Pedestrians, drivers face fines

Thirty-seven pedestrians were surprised with a $97 fine for failing to yield while crossing the street Wednesday morning.

Students racked up fines crossing near Wightman Street while a red hand signal was displayed, the equivalent of running a red light, police said. Where there are no lights, pedestrians who stepped in front of cars closer than 110 feet received fines, even those carrying orange pedestrian flags.

Although police have conducted several crosswalk stings in the past, this was the first time pedestrians were ticketed along with drivers, police said.

"I think they should be doing a lot more than what they are doing," said Shalyn Nelson, who was running late to class and got a ticket while crossing Wightman Street before the light changed. "I don't know if this going to help."

She said she was "not really" upset with her ticket, however.

"I kind of realized it halfway through the crosswalk that I probably shouldn't have done that," she said.

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Ashland Police Officer Steve MacLennan issues a ticket to a pedestrian during the Wednesday morning sting.

Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings

Most pedestrians were less understanding.

"I think it's ridiculous," said Will Wilberforce, who received a ticket after crossing the street wearing a black hooded sweatshirt and headphones, without looking at oncoming traffic. "When I was walking, there was nobody coming."

Koehl Halliday was angry that he was fined for starting to cross before the pedestrian signal appeared at Wightman Street.

"I just feel like it's not a proper response to the incident," he said, referring to the death of Gladys Jimenez in February after she was hit by a car in a crosswalk. "It's not difficult to walk across the street if you're paying attention."

Officers also cited drivers who failed to yield to pedestrians along Siskiyou Boulevard near Garfield and Palm Streets. A total of 12 drivers earned fines of $242 apiece, police said.

"I think it's excellent," said Todd Hoffman, even though he got a ticket as he was driving his two daughters to school. "I've been personally fed up with this situation."

Campus Public Safety Supervisor Brian Nordahl said ticketing both drivers and pedestrians was necessary, because both add to the problem.

"I think the intention all along was to catch drivers and pedestrians, because both contribute equally to being unsafe on the road," he said. "When I'm working, about 50/50 it's pedestrians with their heads down, not looking both ways, as much as cars not stopping or slowing down."

In previous four-hour stings, about 25 drivers received tickets, said Deputy Chief Rich Walsh. Wednesday's operation lasted from 7:30 a.m. to — p.m., and police issued a total of 49 citations.

"This is a problem, especially with the amount of tickets we're writing," said Deputy Chief Rich Walsh. "Generally speaking, most people know what the laws are, but people are creatures of habit, and a lot of people will just ignore it and walk across the traffic light."

And although pedestrians argued it was unfair to ticket them, the laws apply equally to those on foot and behind the wheel.

"People just need to follow the rules," Walsh said.

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SOU student and Campus Public Safety officer Keith Miller works with Ashland police during Wednesday’s sting on Siskiyou Boulevard.

Thom Larkin | Daily Tidings

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227.

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