Rules of the Road

Rules of the Road: Why not ticket drivers running red lights?

A bicyclists walks across a decorative crosswalk at the intersection of North State Street and East Holly Street. Downtown Bellingham drivers have a reputation for sometimes running red lights, endangering pedestrians, even those in a marked crosswalk.
A bicyclists walks across a decorative crosswalk at the intersection of North State Street and East Holly Street. Downtown Bellingham drivers have a reputation for sometimes running red lights, endangering pedestrians, even those in a marked crosswalk. The Bellingham Herald

Question: This is less of a question than a concern, but I’m not sure who else to address. I work in the downtown core of Bellingham and walk all over the place, and I can’t even count the number of times I’ve nearly been hit by a driver running a red light while I’m crossing in a crosswalk on the walk sign. I have this happen, or see it happen, practically every day: Drivers speed up when their light turns red, thinking it’ll only take an extra couple seconds for them to get through the intersection. This is a serious safety concern, and I can’t imagine it won’t end up with a pedestrian being injured or killed sooner or later.

It seems the city has an abundance of traffic police enforcing the parking meters downtown, so why do they have nothing in the way of actual traffic patrols in the area? (I have written to the city about this and received no response.) I’m finally writing to you because today a car came within a foot of hitting me as I crossed (on the walk sign) at Forest Street on Holly Street.

Thanks for any help you can give.

Answer: Thank you for the observation. The parking enforcement officers are only able to enforce the parking ordinances for the city of Bellingham. As for the abundance of them, there are only three for the entire city.

The patrol officers and the traffic officers for Bellingham would be the ones able to enforce the actual violations of the traffic code to include the red light violations, failure to yield to the pedestrian, etc. The only answer I can provide is continue to be alert to poor drivers, continue to follow the pedestrian walk signs, and I will pass your comments on to the Bellingham Traffic Unit.

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 serves 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.

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