St. Paul police step up pedestrian safety law enforcement

"Stop for Me" campaign
St. Paul City Council aide Mai Chong Xiong, left, and volunteer Kate Herold cross busy Lexington Avenue as a police officer watches traffic for crosswalk violations Thursday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

St. Paul police say they're keeping a closer eye on crosswalks to make sure drivers stop for pedestrians amid an uptick in vehicle-pedestrian crashes.

There have been 38 crashes between vehicles and pedestrians or bicycles this year, police said. That includes Tuesday when a 24-year-old woman was struck and killed on Kellogg Boulevard.

Assistant Chief Todd Axtell compares the effort — called "Stop for Me" — to DUI enforcement.

"People who violate these types of laws have a higher risk of causing great bodily harm and potentially death because of their violations," he said. "And so we really want to make a strong statement to make sure our public is aware that this is the law, and violating this law really puts lives in jeopardy."

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On Thursday afternoon, a group of volunteers took turns crossing busy Lexington Avenue as police watched to make sure drivers stopped at the crosswalk.

"Stop for Me" campaign
St. Paul police Sgt. Jeremy Ellison, left, and Assistant Chief Todd Axtell brief volunteers with the "Stop for Me" campaign at Lexington and Hague avenues on Thursday.
Matt Sepic | MPR News

At Hague and Lexington avenues, Kate Herold was one of several volunteers with the "Stop for Me" campaign who took turns crossing the street as police waited to ticket drivers who failed to yield.

Herold says she was at this intersection last year when a 16-year-old girl was struck and severely injured.

"Typically when I have to cross here I wait until there's a full opening because I don't feel that there's any sense of security for me as a pedestrian that the drivers are going to stop."

Similar enforcement efforts are planned for Monday on St. Paul's east side.