Community Post

Hey You in the Prius!

20th and Union ~ 8:15am –

 When you see people standing at the intersection, an intersection with a marked cross walk no less, stop your fricken car! You do know that by braking you can replenish the stored energy in your vehicles batteries right? Or are you just another poser in a Prius, “Hey! Look at ME! I’m green!”?

 I had my eyes on you the whole time. I saw you brake coming down the hill and thought it was a gesture to follow WAC 132E-16-040 – Pedestrians—Right of Way. Your sudden deceleration and your poorly tuned brakes that caused you to swerve left and right dramatically proved me wrong. Yelling at me from behind the windshield telling me to watch where I was going was classic. Rolling down the window to continue to berate me was even better.

Did you spill your extra hot/double/halfcaf/2 pump vanilla latte in your lap? Leave a little skid mark in your shorts? I’m sorry. Well, OK. Maybe not.

43 thoughts on “Hey You in the Prius!

  1. All Seattle drivers (and pedestrians) should read this:
    RCW 46.04.160


    “Crosswalk” means the portion of the roadway between the intersection area and a prolongation or connection of the farthest sidewalk line or in the event there are no sidewalks then between the intersection area and a line ten feet therefrom, except as modified by a marked crosswalk.

    WAC 132E-16-040

    Pedestrians — Right of way.

    (1) Stopping for pedestrian. The operator of an approaching vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk unmarked or marked when the pedestrian 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 further info on Seattle’s Pedestrian law go here:

  2. HA! Someone calling themselves Fez Whatley asking others about their perceived self importance?
    Good one!

  3. Hey random guy on the sidewalk! I’m just driving down the road, trying to enjoy my extra hot/double/halfcaf/2 pump vanilla latte. How am I supposed to know you want to cross the street? I frequently stop for pedestrians in accordance with WAC 132E-16-040. Often the random person standing on the sidewalk doesn’t want to cross the street at all! They just happened to pick a crosswalk adjacent section of sidewalk to stand on and smoke or talk on the phone or do nothing at all.

    For some reason Seattle pedestrians expect all drivers to just know exactly what they are doing and when they are going to do it without signaling their intentions in any way. Next time please just step into the crosswalk, this way your intentions are clear and your expectations of me are clear. If you are scared or there doesn’t seem to be enough room to do it safely, then just do a little hokey pokey action and put one foot out.

    My extra hot/double/halfcaf/2 pump vanilla latte came through the ordeal just fine. Thank you for your concern.

  4. Or just Passive / Aggresive…this rant gains you what – a soapbox? especially with the extreme stereotyping, that part is great.

  5. prius driver said: “How am I supposed to know you want to cross the street

    Hmmmm. Let’s see here. You admit you didn’t know whether the pedestrian was going to cross or not, yet you decided not to stop until you could make sure? Even though you KNEW that if he was crossing you might hit him?

    You’re a very bad driver. Keep it up and you will most certainly hurt and/or kill someone.

    I hope McMullet got your license number.

  6. Interesting/entertaining stuff here, on both sides.
    As a runner, on a daily basis I have to determine whether drivers are going to stop or are paying attention at all. Eye contact is where it’s at – both as a driver and as a pedestrian. Let’s all do our part to make the streets safe. Waiting for the pedestrian to cross or waiting for the car to go by if you’re not sure they’ll stop is worth the extra few seconds.
    For what it’s worth, I’m a Prius driver who stops. Sometimes even for those people who are standing on the side with no intention of ever crossing (which is kinda annoying…).

  7. No need to stereotype. I’m assuming you are a fat hippy and that’s wrong of me.

  8. that episode is hilarious. one of their best I think. the San Francisco part just slays me every time.

  9. Yeah, I stop my car all the time for people who are just hanging out on the corner, because I’m not sure whether they are going to cross or not. Cellphone talkers are the worst about this.

    Sure it pisses me off, but at least I’m not going to hit someone.

    Apparently Prius Driver would rather save those precious few seconds of their very important time and take that risk of hurting or killing a person.

    I hope that McMullet got his license number.

  10. We witnessed this transaction and find it amusing that it is posted here. At any rate you both were totally jammin’ with your tunes and were oblivious of your surroundings. Prius, turn down the tunes, you’ll hear and see more of everything. Angry crosswalk guy, unplug and take it down a notch. You both were in your own worlds and unaware of everything going on around you and now have to create this wah-fest here. I guess it’s OK though since I get to join in on the wah-fest myself.

  11. how any criticism of drivers brings out the comments… Only shootings and murders seem to get more “air play”…..

    I’m with McMullet and Jen B. drivers need to slow down and pay more attention, when they don’t they run over little old ladies and firemen.

    And learn the GD traffic laws – Don’t freaking scream at me for not crossing in a crosswalk when I am clearly crossing at an intersection which means that I am IN A CROSSWALK whether or not there are white lines painted on the ground. (not to mention you had to stop at a RED LIGHT at the end of the block, so your having to actually pay attention and slow the freak down didn’t even cause you to lose a fraction of a second of your life that wasn’t already gone…. in fact I walked past you and got the light before you did…) It just shows the world how truly ignorant you are. Oh and also….either register your car here or go back to Oregon…freeloader…

  12. I’m all for the idea of the Prius and other green technologies but the Prius, in particular has a problem. The problem with the Prius is….the driver.

    I do agree that it is hard to determine if some people are trying to cross the street or just hanging out at a street corner for some reason. I often stop a half a block from the intersection for those people who seem certain they are going to be run down. Regardless of the paranoia, it is a pedestrian right to cross the street. I walk quite a bit also and appreciate those who actual pay attention to what they are doing while behind the wheel.

  13. Did you spill your extra hot/double/halfcaf/2 pump vanilla latte in your lap?

  14. Eric,
    Welcome to wah-fest!
    Were you part of the couple behind me at the cross walk? The ones who didn’t step off the curb and attempt to cross the street? Or where you across the street in the cafe? Maybe one of the few people waiting for the bus? Or possibly the guy headed West on the scooter? Oh but you said we…so not that one. Hmm sounds like I was pretty aware of my surroundings. I had headphones on yes, but jamming to tunes I was not. Don’t assume I was in my own world and unaware of things going on around me. I know I can pay with my life that way while trying to cross the street.
    But yes, I was an idiot for getting myself sucked into a shouting match with an inattentive driver. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. Uh, yeah but they already did the face-to-face part in the form of a constructive stupid rant shouting match.

    any way you slice this – the driver was in the wrong for failing to yield to a ped., which is the law. Prius Driver admitted in their post they weren’t sure whether the ped. was crossing or not.

    So if you aren’t sure that someone’s going to cross or not, YIELD AND MAKE SURE before you drive on.

  16. I live on 20th near Union and cross Union many times a week. This encounter aside typically takes 3-5, (often more) cars zooming by before anyone stops for me … while I am at the edge of the crosswalk with my dog NOT talking on the phone. Probably 1/3 of the time a driver coming from the other direction will actually drive through the crosswalk while I’m in it.

    I try to make eye contact which isn’t always possible, I stand in the street, I thank drivers who stop … what else do we need to do? .. if someone is trying to cross, stop, if you are in doubt, stop and for chrissakes if someone is in the crosswalk STOP!

  17. People in cars are very important and their time is more important than yours. Since walkers and bikers are slower, it follows that they are not as important and they should stay out of the way of the very important people whose time is extremely valuable.

  18. I come here to read about people getting robbed and stuff, not to listen to someone who had trouble crossing the street.

  19. I waited for 3 min one time for someone to cross who was at a corner. They stared at me dumbfounded as I waved them to cross. They never did cross and I sure did get a honking at by the driver behind me. Have some respect for drivers. While waiting for someone to stop Mc please kick anyone else at the corner loitering in the balls for me and the rest of the drivers, thanks!

  20. CD Human – it must have been very traumatic for you to get honked at like that, and waste 3 precious minutes of your important time.

    Certainly justifies your threat of assault, right?

    Violence is the answer!

  21. It’s a community blog…anyone can post. That means sometimes it’s news, sometimes it’s brilliant journalism, sometimes it’s invitations to community events, and sometimes it’s posts from a pedestrian who was almost hit by a car. Hyperlocal blog! That’s what this is.

  22. that crosswalk at 20th & union (A REAL ONE, WITH WHITE LINES NO LESS!) is often more dangerous than an unmarked corner. i use it a lot, for the bus stop (and katy’s) and it can be a death trap, with cars zooming east on union down that hill. amazing how few people actually stop. when i’m driving i try really hard to be the driver who always stops. no one’s perfect, but being aware is a start.

  23. I dare anyone to try to cross 23rd (say, at Marion) in any of the unmarked crosswalks (yes, unmarked crosswalks at intersections are the same as marked crosswalks and cars are required to stop) and get back to me.

  24. People do this all the time. Some of us drivers even stop for them!

    That said, it’s not a very good idea during heavy traffic times, because even if one driver stops, the others may not. Like anything else, just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

  25. If it is so dangerous perhaps the speed limit needs to be lowered and the traffic laws require a period of rigorous enforcement… Or maybe we just need more stop lights on 23rd…. so that if you want to get to something directly across the street you don’t have to walk several blocks to get to a controlled intersection….

    To say that cars are dangerous so its just not a good idea to cross a busy street is a completely *lame* excuse to allow car drivers to be careless, thoughtless and brainless when they drive. 23rd Ave is basically a residential neighborhood. Drivers should *expect* people to be crossing the street. It’s not a limited access highway. Slow down, pay attention, obey the traffic laws (and don’t give me any BS about how other people don’t obey them – it’s annoying when someone jay walks, it’s deadly when a motor vehicle fouls up, while the jay walker shouldn’t do that, it’s still not the same thing)

  26. @CARnage – all that is true, and when I am the driver, I try to comply with what you are advocating. But as the pedestrian, at busy traffic times I bow to experience and reality and assume, usually correctly, that the drivers will not comply. I will challenge them up to a certain point, but not at the cost of my life and safety.

    Yes, we need more enforcement, but mostly we need an attitude shift on the part of drivers, including buses and bicyclists. Maybe together we can come up with some ways to “encourage” such an improvement, beginning with modeling the correct behavior ourselves.

  27. As I’ve made it to the ripe old age of 40 and don’t drive if it is avoidable, it’s fairly obvious that I don’t advocate or recommend simply stepping out in front of moving vehicles…

    I’m sorry but I think it is sunshine, fairies and hokum to think that by being a “good” pedestrian that you will be encouraging people to be responsible drivers. Driver’s won’t be encouraged to clean up their act until it is more difficult to get a license, more difficult to keep a license and the penalty for destroying a life with a car is more than a $42 ticket…. My behavior is already correct. I don’t cross against lights, I don’t cross in the middle of the block (though that is actually not always illegal). I do expect that given a reasonable distance the cars should stop for me when I’m crossing the street. I’m not willing to stand there and wait until there is a big enough space that no one has to actually bother to apply their brakes so that I can cross the street. Being “good” simply encourages them to ignore you further.

  28. It’s amazing how contentious this conversation has become … stopping for pedestrians is one of the most basic urban driving rules. It’s part of the pact we have with one another and it’s one of the things that makes living in the city enjoyable and safe. Drivers should happily stop for pedestrians, whose walking does neighborhoods so much good. Streets friendly to walkers keep down crime and knit neighbors together, creating communities.

    I both drive and walk, and believe that walking more has made me a more considerate driver.

  29. I don’t have time to copy and paste the rules. But, for the 4 lane 23rd Avenue the rules are different than on E. Union, which is never a 4 lane street. On E. Union pedestrians always have the right-of-way on all intersections except the ones where there are the lights. On lighted intersections, laws require pedestrians heed the traffic lights. I gave a presentation to a sight-impaired group today and as an understatement bicyclists’ behavior did not get high marks from them. Drivers should remember that their license is a privilege and rules are there to help all, and bicyclists should be reminded that they are as obligated as any other vehicle to obey vehicle laws.

    Drivers see pedestrians on E. Union and speed rudely through intersections any way.

  30. Actually, the rules on 23rd are not different. The road is just designed dangerously and cars will never actually stop for you.

  31. Pedestrians still have the right of way on 4 lane streets. The number of lanes doesn’t change that – it only changes exactly when the car has to stop. The rule is that a car has to stop if the pedestrian is within or within 1 lane of the 1/2 of the street that the car is on. On a 4 lane street that means traffic in the side you step out on should stop in both lanes. Once the you reach the second lane all traffic should stop. After you cross the middle line traffic in the furthest lane can resume. When you reach the farthest lane all traffic on that side should remain stopped, while all traffic on the other side can resume…. probably easier to just wait for someone to get across the street if you ask me.

    [i]RCW 46.61.235

    (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.

    (3) Subsection (1) of this section does not apply under the conditions stated in RCW 46.61.240(2).

    (4) Whenever any vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or at any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to permit a pedestrian or bicycle to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle.[/i]

    As far as crossing mid block goes

    [i]Crossing at other than crosswalks.

    (1) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

    (2) Where curb ramps exist at or adjacent to intersections or at marked crosswalks in other locations, disabled persons may enter the roadway from the curb ramps and cross the roadway within or as closely as practicable to the crosswalk. All other pedestrian rights and duties as defined elsewhere in this chapter remain applicable.

    (3) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.

    (4) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

    (5) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by official traffic-control devices; and, when authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians shall cross only in accordance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to such crossing movements.

    (6) No pedestrian shall cross a roadway at an unmarked crosswalk where an official sign prohibits such crossing.[/i]

  32. It is so confusing… I even just got it wrong. You step out on a 4 lane street. The two lanes on your side have to stop. You reach the second lane all traffic should be stopped. You cross the center line all traffic should remain stopped. You cross into the final lane, traffic on the other side can resume. You reach the sidewalk traffic on the side you have crossed to can resume.

  33. @oliveoyl exactly. studies prove that more walkers = safer streets. i love exploring the neighborhood and recognizing faces. i know driving in the city can be stressful, especially during morning and evening commutes, but this back and forth bickering is getting out of hand. it’s the right thing to do, it’s the law.

  34. Hi I see you are correct the rules are not different. And, as others have already stated it seems to play out a little differently when there are four lanes. I don’t know any drivers who stop along 23rd for pedestrians when it is busy. Many times it seems like it would be dangerous for all. As a pedestrian when 23rd is busy (most of the day, especially Monday thru Saturday)I cross 23rd at the lights. Oddly when a light turns green and the pedestrian light displays is one of the most dangerous moments from cars impatient to turn right.

  35. you’re right, Joanna. That’s why I’m a huge fan of what are called “Leading Pedestrian Intervals” at signals:

    Basically, the walk signal goes for a couple seconds before the light turns green. That way, people walking are already in the intersection and more visible by the time cars try turning.

    This happens at 18th and Madison, for example, and I think it greatly enhances walking safety there. I wish it were the norm at all major walking intersections (if not all signals).

  36. I obey and observe the RCW’s listed above. I’m a pedestrian and a driver. I’ve had close calls both ways and feel bad regardless of my status in a steel cage or not.

    What absolutely bothers me is that parents will walk out into traffic with their children in tow strongly assuming the logical and legal RCW will prevent the effects of physics on the human body. Please be a responsible parent and teach your children to look both ways and cross when it’s safe instead of just where they have “right of way.” Your strident stance on this argument could result in their losing their lives. Oh, and there’s that other side of the argument… survival in states that don’t share our laws.

  37. Even worse, I frequently see adults holding their toddler’s hands and crossing the intersection (especially 18th and Union and also 23rd and Jefferson) AGAINST THE LIGHT! No wonder the elementary and middle school kids do this when they are old enough to cross by themselves!