During the meeting of Conshohocken’s Borough Council on January 20th there was a discussion of the crosswalks along Fayette Street and the safety of pedestrian. This was an offshoot of the conversation on traffic and the alleys, which we detailed in a recent article.
It is a state law that pedestrians have the right-of-way at intersections where there is not a light. Vehicles are supposed to yield to pedestrians when they are within the crosswalk. A good break down of pedestrian laws can be found here.
While that seems pretty clear, it leaves up to the judgement of the pedestrian when he or she believes it is safe to walk into an intersection based on how far and fast the vehicles approaching are moving. Here is how the law, which is part of Title 75 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statues, reads:
Section 3542. Right-of-way of pedestrians in crosswalks.
- (a) General rule.— When traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.
- (b) Exercise of care by pedestrian. — No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute a hazard.
So as Section 3542 (b) reads, pedestrians have to judge the situation to be safe before crossing. There is the possibility that if a pedestrian enters the crosswalk and is struck by a vehicle, the pedestrian could still be at fault, even though the pedestrian had the right-of-way.
Fayette Street is a a state road, which somewhat limits what the Borough of Conshohocken could do to make the road safer. A few ideas that were discussed was a more active police presence, placing of electronic signs along the road that display the speed of vehicles and removing the signs at crosswalks which state that the pedestrian has the right-of-way (as show in photo above).
The majority of the discussion was about the right-of-way signs, which Council member Robert Stokley (R, Ward 5) stated he believed should be removed because they encourage the pedestrians to use the crosswalks at intersections without a light. What he was basically saying was just because pedestrians have the right-of-way, doesn’t mean they should use it. It is safer to cross where there is a light. We know of three incidents of pedestrians being struck by a vehicle along Fayette Street in the past 12 months. There is no requirement for the existing signs.
No decision was made. Stay tuned for more on what will be done to help make Fayette Street safer.