Tag Archives: unmarked crosswalk

Pedestrians and unmarked crosswalks

The in basket: Most drivers know they can be ticketed for not stopping to allow a pedestrian waiting to cross the street at a crosswalk. And I learned years ago that pedestrians have the right of way at any intersection, even where no crosswalk is painted on the pavement. Such areas are called unmarked crosswalks.

But I’d never learned if the compunction to stop for a pedestrian poised to step out onto the road or street at an intersection extends to unmarked crosswalks.

So I asked Lt. Pete Fisher of Bremerton police.

The out basket: The answer is that the rules for yielding to pedestrians are the same at marked and unmarked crosswalks, so a driver who sees a pedestrian on the curb, sidewalk or shoulder about to cross can be cited for not stopping.

Pete sent along a copy of the law on this, which reads in part: “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.”

Like a distressing number of our state’s traffic laws, this one leaves room for confusion by addressing only “lanes,” and saying nothing about pedestrians on the shoulder. Pete says it does include the shoulder or sidewalk.

As a personal observation, when I’m a pedestrian, I try not to seem too intent on crossing a street until I have a good space between cars. I can see behind the driver in the approaching vehicle and often would much rather wait for a break in traffic that I can see coming than force the closest driver to stop for me. It makes for a more leisurely and, I think, safer crossing. But the law doesn’t recognize that reality.