GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Police Department will soon be cracking down on motorists who fail to yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
According to a press release issued by Gallipolis Police Chief Clint Patterson, the police department has been receiving complaints about vehicles failing to stop and yield to pedestrians in crosswalks. Because of this, officers will now begin to enforce this practice within the city.
“In order to encourage drivers to comply with these requirements, the police department will begin to issue warnings to motorists in an effort to educate them. Soon after, enforcement through the issuance of citations will begin,” Patterson said. “I hope we don’t have to resort to writing citations and that we are able to gain compliance voluntarily by educating the community.”
The Gallipolis city ordinances and the Ohio Revised Code dictate that drivers are required to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks except when traffic control devices direct otherwise. Vehicles must stop before they cross the line, or if no lines exist, before they enter the crosswalk.
During a recent Gallipolis City Commission meeting, Gallipolis City Manager Randy Finney also addressed this issue, stating that it may take time before the public is educated about the practice of yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks. But he added that it is a problem that needs to be corrected in the city.
“I think the crosswalks have been highly ignored within the city. People try to cross the streets around here and can’t get across, especially in front of the justice center. It’s marked very plainly that you are supposed to stop and yield to pedestrians, and maybe 10 percent of the cars may stop, if you’re lucky,” he said. “So, we just need to get awareness program out there. We are going to start warning people about these violations. Basically, if you’re at any intersection, you must yield to a pedestrian, whether there’s a crosswalk marking or not. If anyone tries to cross the street, once they are off the curb, then they are in a crosswalk and you have to yield to those people.”
While enforcing the proper use of crosswalks in the city may lead to additional rear-end collisions, it will prevent serious injury among the walking public along the city streets, according to Finney.
“It’s going to take some education from everybody to make sure they understand that, but I think it’s something that we need to do and start enforcing to make sure people are safe crossing the streets,” he said. “We may have a few more accidents — rear-ends and things like that — but it needs to be done, I think.”
The police department further advises that the movement of pedestrians at intersections is controlled by pedestrian-control signals, or, where none are present, by the same traffic light that directs vehicles. The pedestrian-control signals will tell pedestrians whether to “stop” or “walk” and are timed to allow walkers to get across the street in time. At traffic lights where these signals do not exist, pedestrians must follow the directions of the light and cross with the traffic light.
While many of Gallipolis’ crosswalks are at intersections controlled by a stop light, most of them are at intersections controlled only by stop signs — and many of these are unmarked. All intersections are considered to have a crosswalk whether or not there are markings on the road, according to the police department. At these intersections, the pedestrian in the crosswalk always have the right of way. Once the pedestrian has stepped off the curb and into the road, they are considered to be in the crosswalk.
It should also be noted that Gallipolis has several crosswalks that are not at intersections. The first one is located at the city park on First Avenue and is in the middle of the block. Other non-intersection crosswalks are located where the O.O. McIntyre Bike Trail crosses streets on Sycamore Street, Olive Street and Fourth Avenue.
Another non-intersection crosswalk is in front of the Gallipolis Justice Center on Second Avenue. The Ohio Department of Transportation has erected signs here warning of the presence of a crosswalk and directing vehicles to stop for pedestrians.