It's best to stick to crosswalks

I understand the crosswalk rules. However, if I safely walk across the street with the pedestrian-control device but walk one foot outside the crosswalk, am I breaking any laws? Jaywalking is legal in Oregon, right? What about downtown Ashland? I understand that jaywalking by local ordinance in downtown Ashland is prohibited. Correct?

— Jerry K., Ashland

Jerry, whether you're walking or driving, Sgt. Dace Cochran of the Jackson County Sheriff's Department is your man when it comes to roadway rules. So here's his insight on the subject:

"If you walk when the walk signal is showing and walk outside the crosswalk by a foot, then you may be in technical violation, but I seriously doubt that you're going to be cited for it," Sgt. Cochran said. "The same could be said for people who drive 56 mph in the 55 mph zones. Technical violation, yes, being cited for it, no."

He also notes that there are no state (Oregon Revised Statutes) laws against jaywalking. Unless otherwise regulated by local ordinances (see below), you can cross in mid-street, but should be aware that you, as the pedestrian, no longer have the right of way; that now belongs to the cars on the road. You have to cross at intersections, marked or unmarked, to retain the right of way.

The city of Ashland municipal code (Section 11, vehicles and traffic, under the subsection for pedestrians) notes that if there is a sidewalk available, it must be used. It also says that when pedestrians cross a street, they must cross at right angles to the sidewalk to get across the street in the shortest distance. In Ashland, pedestrians must use crosswalks in blocks with marked crosswalks. Sgt. Cochran says he understand that to mean that if there is no marked crosswalk in the block or vicinity then a pedestrian may cross the road (at a right angle) and not be in violation.

If there are no crosswalks, then the ORS codes would apply (Vehicle Code, Chapters 801 to 822), but since downtown Ashland does have readily available crosswalks, it's likely that crossing the street in any other location would be a violation of its local ordinance.

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