It's the law: All intersections are crosswalks, marked or not. Drivers must yield to walkers attempting to cross properly.
St. Paul police and pedestrians emphasized that message Tuesday beside a busy stretch of Kellogg Boulevard where a woman was killed in March as she tried to cross at Mulberry Street. The event was one of 34 crosswalk safety events planned in St. Paul this year, part of a Stop For Me campaign aiming to curb pedestrian crashes.
"On average, we're seeing a bike or pedestrian crash every other day in St. Paul," said St. Paul Police Sgt. Jeremy Ellison. "And it's unacceptable. These crashes have lifelong impacts on the people in our community and it's time for them to stop."
Police ticketed a number of drivers during the event for not yielding to walkers crossing Kellogg. The citation comes with a hefty $186 fine and fees.
Walkers participating in the operation stepped into the street while cars still had more than 193 feet to stop — a measurement based on the space needed to stop at 40 miles per hour. Police cited drivers if they did not stop.
A decision hasn't been made on filing charges against the driver who hit and killed 24-year-old Shelby M. Kokesch in March. Another driver in the right lane had stopped to let Kokesch and her mother pass, but the driver in the left lane continued driving and hit them both. Her mother was later listed by Regions Hospital in good condition.
"When you see a car stopped at an intersection, whether or not you can see why … do not pass them without first looking for pedestrians crossing in the street," said Kyle Mianulli, a Stop for Me organizer.
The March crash was similar to one in October that left an 11-year-old boy severely injured, when one car stopped for him in the crosswalk and another did not.
There have been 47 crashes between vehicles and pedestrians in St. Paul this year, 22 of which resulted in someone going to the hospital. St. Paul police said drivers' failure to yield the right of way was a contributing factor in 25 of those crashes.
Road design is another important factor for a safe walking environment, said Chuck Marohn, president of Brainerd-based Strong Towns, a nonprofit that encourages smarter city planning. He was in the crowd Tuesday before speaking at a subsequent Stop For Me event. Marohn, formerly a practicing engineer, said the wide lanes and designated turning lanes on that stretch of Kellogg Boulevard signal to drivers that it is acceptable to drive fast.
"Here you have highway geometries applied to what is essentially a local street," Marohn said.