The OWH and OPD needs to brush up on Chapter 60 of the Nebraska State Statutes. Many of this year’s pedestrian victims have been labeled as at fault for their own death or injury when they were fully within their rights under the law.
• Section 616 clearly states that any intersection where sidewalks are present on opposing legs are “crosswalks” even if they aren’t “marked crosswalks” (those with paint/signage) and that a pedestrian has the right-of-way whenever in these spaces unless the traffic signal and/or crossing signal (if present) is red.
• As of two months ago, Section 6,109 requires 3’ of clearance when passing a pedestrian walking or jogging in the roadway.
• Section 6,124 clearly states that a pedestrian can be in the signalized crosswalk even if the signal indicates DON’T WALK, if they initiated the crossing beforehand.
• Section 6,153 clearly explains that a pedestrian may enter an unmarked crosswalk even if a car is in view, so long as there is ample time for the car to stop. This also justifies pedestrians entering unmarked crosswalks where there are poor sight lines, as other sections indicate it is the drivers responsibility to drive at a speed in which they can react to hazards.
• Section 6,154 gives pedestrians the right to cross at a midblock location so long as the adjacent intersections are not traffic controlled. These pedestrians must yield to other vehicles; however, this does not excuse excessive speed or reckless driving on the part of the driver.
• And based on legal precedence: “Violation of a statute is not negligence per se, but is merely evidence of negligence.” Vanek v. Prohaska, 233 Neb. 848, 448 N.W.2d 573 (1989). In some cases a pedestrian may in fact violate these laws because they have little other option but to. For example when a sidewalk or trail is under construction without detour or when no sidewalk exists, or when no legal crossing point is provided without going more than 1/2 mile (more than 10 minutes) out of the desired course of walking as is often the case on major suburban arterials.
• And on that last point 10minutes may not seem like a long time, but remember: 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity is considered a daily workout; these individuals may be elderly or disabled making it more like 20-25minutes; and Omaha prides itself on being a 20minute commute city so adding 10minutes to someone’s commute is a big deal.
David M Nelson
Project for Public Spaces
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