Now that school has started and more children and adults are using crosswalks, the Missoula Police Department is conducting ‘Pedestrian Crossing Emphasis’ patrols, to help enforce crossing laws in the city.

Sergeant Greg Amundsen said one of the methods used will be having volunteers cross the streets with police nearby.

“Starting this week we’ll be doing some pedestrian crossing safety enforcement, said Amundsen. “We’ll have volunteers crossing the street, and we’ll be sitting there watching from a good vantage point to make sure that vehicles are yielding to them.”

Amundsen noted that it doesn’t matter is there is no official crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian always has the right of way.

“That applies to every intersection, whether the crossing is painted on or not,” he said. “They call it an ‘implied crosswalk’. The pedestrian cannot just step off the curb and start walking across the intersection. They must step off the curb and wait for traffic to see them before crossing. You have to give the driver enough time to be able to react, stop and yield.”

Amundsen said there are specific rules for bicyclists, as well.

“If they’re on a bicycle on the sidewalk and come up to a crosswalk, if they stop like a pedestrian would, roll out into the street a little bit and then cross at the pace of a pedestrian, they would be considered a pedestrian, but if they just want to shoot across the street, they’re not a pedestrian and the cars don’t have to yield.”

Amundsen had one more tip for drivers at stop signs and right-on-red intersections to slow down and glance to the right to make sure there are no pedestrians or bicyclists trying to cross at the same time.

Amundsen said the patrols will offer a combination of education and enforcement action when appropriate.

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