by Beth Brainard
Executive Director of NPC
While there is much attention given to traffic laws pertaining to motorists and bicyclists, little is said about the laws governing pedestrians, a category that includes walkers, joggers and runners.
Some may surprise you. For example, did you know that if there is a sidewalk, pedestrians must use it, and if they choose to walk in the street they are breaking the law?
HERE ARE SOME OTHERS:
- Pedestrians must obey traffic signs and signals, which means if you cross at an intersection, say at 5th Avenue S and 8th Street, when the pedestrian signal is red – you are breaking the law.
- Upon legally entering a crosswalk, pedestrians have the right of way over vehicles including bicycles. However, it is illegal for a pedestrian to suddenly move into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
- Pedestrians crossing the street at any point other than a marked crosswalk or intersection must yield to vehicles including bicycles.
- It is illegal to cross an intersection diagonally, except where indicated by signals.
- Pedestrians walking in the street must walk against traffic. It is the opposite for bicyclists who must legally ride with traffic.
- It is illegal for pedestrians to stand in a roadway to solicit a ride, employment, or business.
- And just for good measure, it is illegal for pedestrians to jump or dive from a publically owned bridge.
LAWS VS. COMMON SENSE AND COMMON COURTESY
Sidewalks are a shared space, regardless if they are private ways in your development or public thoroughfares downtown. No one group owns them, so while there is no law against a cranky pedestrian playing chicken with an oncoming mom pushing a stroller, common courtesy calls for the pedestrian to give way.
It is illegal for motorists and bicyclists to wear headphones or ear buds when operating their vehicles, but it is not illegal for pedestrians to wear them as they walk or jog down the street oblivious to everything around them. It should be illegal.
A mounting body of research points to the dangers of distracted walking. According to a report by The Ohio State University,accidents involving pedestrians using mobile devices have more than tripled since 2004. Common sense dictates that if you don’t want to get hit by a car or run over by a bicycle, you need to pay attention to your surroundings. Groove with your ear buds while you layby the pool.
If you want to learn more about bicycle and pedestrian laws you can find the Complete Florida Statutes text at: www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes. Look forTitle XXlll, Chapter 316.