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What does failing to yield look like?

Earlier this month Wello worked with We Bike etc., a bicycle and pedestrian safety consulting company based out of Ashwaubenon, to provide training for the law enforcement officers that participate in Wello’s “Frogger” operations as part of our Yield to Your Neighbor campaign. This year, in response to growing community interest, we also made the training available to community members. Having sat in for the three sessions (one for the community and two for the law enforcement partners), there were two items that spurred a lot of discussion. Given the interest in those topics on the part of both law enforcement and community members, we thought it made sense to share them here!

Before we dive into those topics, I first want to remind you of the yielding law that our “Frogger” operations are raising awareness around. Wisconsin State Statute 346.24 (1) reads, “At an intersection or crosswalk where traffic is not controlled by traffic control signals or by a traffic officer, the operator of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian or personal delivery device, or to a person riding a bicycle, electric scooter, or electric personal assistive mobility device in a manner which is consistent with the safe use of the crosswalk by pedestrians, that is crossing the highway within a marked or unmarked crosswalk.” 

Simply put, motorists must yield to a person trying to cross in a crosswalk. 

With that being said, the first topic that garnered discussion was “what constitutes whether a vehicle failed to yield?”

The statute answers that question by adding that “in order for a motorist to have a duty to yield under this section, the pedestrian must be ‘crossing’ within the crosswalk as provided under sub. (1) and not have entered in such a manner as to make it difficult for the motorist to yield.” In other words, a person cannot be standing a few feet from the crosswalk and expect traffic to yield or when they dart unexpectedly into the crosswalk without giving motorists the time to react. Now that we have established that a pedestrian needs to allow time for traffic to yield, the failure to yield occurs when the pedestrian's ability to walk through the crosswalk is impeded. If the pedestrian had to slow down their walking speed in order to not be struck by the vehicle passing, or had to bring themselves to a complete stop to avoid a vehicle, that vehicle demonstrated a failure to yield.  

The second topic of interest was how does a motorist yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk with two lanes of traffic in the same direction in a way that is safe for both the pedestrian and driver? This is referring to a vehicle in the lane closest to the curb yielding and as a driver not knowing if the second lane of traffic will yield to the pedestrian.

The solution for this is to come to a stop 15-30 feet before the crosswalk. By slowing down earlier and creating this buffer zone, this gives vehicles traffic behind the yielding vehicle the signal that they need to start slowing down (prevents getting rear-ended). This 15-30 foot space also allows the pedestrian to safely enter the crosswalk and have vision on the second lane of traffic to ensure the vehicle in that lane can see them and yield as well.  

Thank you to the community members and officers that attended the training to help play a role in supporting a safe, accessible walking, biking and rolling community for all. And remember to yield to your neighbor. It’s safer. It’s courteous. It’s the law. 

 

This story ran as Wello's May 2024 Green Bay Press-Gazette column.

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