There were a lot of confused looks on Dec. 10, as pedestrians and motorists noticed the increased Bellevue police presence at the intersection of Bellevue Way Northeast and Northeast 8th Street.
The busy intersection had both cars bustling by and numerous people on foot at about 11 a.m. when police began to pull cars and people aside. It was an effort to educate drivers and pedestrians on the laws surrounding crosswalks, and one piece of a larger effort to decrease traffic collisions in the city.
There were five officers on motorcycles, two officers monitoring pedestrians, one major watching from a building above, and a sergeant giving direction over the radio.
When drivers turning failed to give pedestrians all of the lane they were in, plus one lane in the opposite direction, they were pulled over and given a warning. And pedestrians who entered the crosswalk as the red-hand signal began to flash were educated on the law but also the dangers of disobeying the rules.
This year in Bellevue there has been five total traffic fatalities. Two involved pedestrians on foot. Two others were cyclists. And the fifth a single vehicle.
“One traffic fatality is too many,” said Meeghan Black, spokesperson for Bellevue Police Department. “Five this year in Bellevue is unprecedented for us.” Last year the city had a total of two, she added. And in 2017, it was also two.
“Five is definitely an alarming number,” she said.
Maj. Andrew Popochock, head of the patrol division at the Bellevue PD, told officers to prioritize enforcement on the three leading causes of collisions in Bellevue — speeding, distracted driving and failing to yield. That includes ramping up DUI patrols.
“Our officers are out here ensuring that drivers and pedestrians are being safe here in the city of Bellevue… so that everybody can share these roads and no one gets injured,” Popochock said.