Question: In a previous column, you wrote that the RCW says you must stop for a person in the crosswalk if they are waiting to enter the roadway. Are you sure about this? I have asked two different police officers and they say that until the pedestrian steps off the curb it is not necessary to stop. I stay on the sidewalk to wait for cars to go by in order to save gasoline (theirs) as stopping and starting consumes a lot.
Answer: I also stay on the sidewalk until cars go by, following section 2 of the relevant RCW. If I see someone actively trying to cross the roadway, I will stop so that they can. Perhaps my paraphrasing was not as well worded as it could have been. The rules are spelled out in the RCW 46.61.235 Crosswalks. (1) The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway within an unmarked or marked crosswalk when the pedestrian or bicycle is upon or within one lane of the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For purposes of this section "half of the roadway" means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel, and includes the entire width of a one-way roadway.
(2) No pedestrian or bicycle shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk, run, or otherwise move into the path of a vehicle which is so close that it is impossible for the driver to stop.
Q: You recently answered a question about what happens when the left-turn traffic light won't change for a motorcycle. Does the new law also apply to bicycles, and, when there is only a straight traffic light, how can you wait for it to cycle through when the bicycle is the only vehicle at the intersection and the light isn't cycling at all?
A: Answer: This law applies only to "street legal motorcycles."
RCW 46.61.184 Street legal motorcycle at intersection with inoperative vehicle detection device -- Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the operator of a street legal motorcycle approaching an intersection, including a left turn intersection, that is controlled by a triggered traffic control signal using a vehicle detection device that is inoperative due to the size of the street legal motorcycle shall come to a full and complete stop at the intersection. If the traffic control signal, including the left turn signal, as appropriate, fails to operate after one cycle of the traffic signal, the operator may, after exercising due care, proceed directly through the intersection or proceed to turn left, as appropriate. It is not a defense to a violation of RCW 46.61.050 that the driver of a motorcycle proceeded under the belief that a traffic control signal used a vehicle detection device or was inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle when the signal did not use a vehicle detection device or that any such device was not in fact inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle.
ABOUT RULES OF THE ROAD
Rules of the Road is a regular column with questions and answers on road laws, safe driving habits and general police practices.
Answers come from David Wright, a retired officer from the Bellingham Police Department who is now serving on the Whatcom County Traffic Safety Task Force.
For previous Rules of the Road columns or to ask a question, go to bellinghamherald.com/traffic.