Dear Street Smarts,
Q: With regard to the crosswalks going across Stockton Avenue into the village in Capitola, I had an incident a couple of weeks back.
As you may be aware, is an extremely busy section of street with both cars and pedestrians. A few weeks back, I was headed home and was proceeding very cautiously through the village towards Capitola Avenue. When I approached a crosswalk at 5 mph or slower, I noted pedestrians coming close but not at a crosswalk. I proceeded very carefully over the crosswalk toward the stop sign. At the moment I crossed the lines, two to three pedestrians entered the crosswalk. I looked at them as I passed, unable to stop in time — even while going slow. It appeared they had entered the crosswalk after me and were not concerned; however, an overzealous motorcycle cop decided to light me up and pull me over. I gave license, registration and insurance to him expecting to hear a warning and be able to plead my case regarding the foot traffic in the village and the obvious way that folks follow cars into the crosswalk so they get across between cars. No such luck. The officer wrote the ticket, handed it to me and let me know it would be around $250.
Is Capitola that hard up for cash that they hand out such tickets like candy?
Because of this, I have been overly careful since then. What I have noticed on numerous occasions since then is that pedestrians will almost always step into a crosswalk when a car is passing. If there was a cop at every intersection in town, every minute of the day, they could write thousands of this kind of ticket.
Is it fair? Probably not. Is there some responsibility to the pedestrian to wait for a car to pass? Ever? I was in the middle of the intersection before they even got there.
$250 Poorer (soon?)
A: “We frequently get complaints from citizens about crosswalk violations, specifically vehicles violating the right of way of pedestrians,” said Sgt. Matt Eller of the Capitola Police Department. “As you know, the foot traffic in the village during summer months is very heavy. In response to citizen complaints and in an effort to reduce pedestrian collisions, officers will issue citations to violators. If the pedestrian is in the crosswalk, he or she has the right of way. The person who was issued the citation has the right to contest the citation in court.”
Meanwhile, check out these links to the Department of Motor Vehicles for more information about rights and responsibilities concerning pedestrians and motorists: