The Watchdog | Don’t get crossed up by the rules of the crosswalk

The problem

When it’s speeding car vs. human on foot, The Watchdog doesn’t like the human’s chances.

Neither does Bert Braud, who lives in midtown’s Southmoreland neighborhood and runs frequently on the Trolley Track Trail, which stretches from the Plaza south through Brookside and Waldo. That’s why he always waits for traffic to clear before entering the trail’s crosswalk on Volker Boulevard.

But Braud wonders if he should have to wait, because the crosswalk is clearly marked on the street and by signs for both eastbound and westbound traffic on Volker. His reading of the Missouri Driver Guide tells him the vehicles should stop.

“Admittedly, this is a heavy traffic area, and perhaps the signs are improvidently placed, but they are there, and everyone ignores them.”

The answer

Indeed, the Missouri Driver Guide says, “You must yield to pedestrians in or about to enter a crosswalk.”

However, that instruction is part of a passage that deals with motorists who are stopping for a sign or a signal at an intersection.

Capt. Steve Young of the Kansas City police said this city ordinance covers the situation on Volker: “When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.”

That means drivers need to yield to pedestrians already in the crosswalk, but they don’t need to stop for someone waiting to enter the crosswalk.

The Watchdog would prefer to wait on the cars even if that weren’t the law. He envisions sudden stops, rear-end accidents and cars maiming the handsome hound. When you’re dead, it’s hard to gloat about being right.