How to Use a Crosswalk

Walk SignalOne of the major television stations from Vancouver broadcast a news story this past week about pedestrians as a follow up piece for a report on a family that was struck down in a newly marked crosswalk. The footage showed a pedestrian standing on a sidewalk facing the street as traffic drove by without slowing or stopping. In fact, it appeared to my eye that the speed of the video had been increased slightly so that the cars appeared to zoom by. The commentary by the news reader lamented that the drivers just weren't stopping as they were supposed to. The trouble was, at least according to the law, he was not correct and this could reinforce improper expectations between drivers and pedestrians.

Drivers and cyclists are not required to yield to a pedestrian using a crosswalk until the pedestrian physically occupies the crosswalk. That means stepping off of the sidewalk and onto the road. It's a lesson from one of my first visits the courtroom that I will not forget. I had written a traffic ticket to a driver for failing to yield to a pedestrian who was waiting patiently on the sidewalk for her turn to cross. It didn't take the judge long to dismiss the ticket for want of evidence that the driver had been required to yield.

Oddly, marked crosswalks are dangerous places as over half of pedestrian collisions occur at intersections. More markings are not better than fewer markings. The Pedestrian Crossing Control Manual for British Columbia states "As pedestrian control issues are often emotionally charged, there can be a tendency to assume that using more traffic control devices will resolve pedestrian safety problems. However, experience has shown that the overuse of devices may reduce their effectiveness..."

The manual also says "Pedestrian crossing safety relies on the judgement exercised by pedestrians and drivers. To interact safely requires an exchange of information between the pedestrian and the motorist." Never simply assume that you have the right of way as a pedestrian or a driver. Right of way is something that is given, not taken.

Using a crosswalk is simple. First, look both ways for approaching traffic. If it is safe to step into the crosswalk, do so, if not wait until it is. As we teach children to do, point your way across by holding your arm up and pointing to the far side. This reinforces in the driver's mind that we intend to cross and are not just passing the time of day. Make eye contact with the driver and insure that they come to a complete stop. Step out to the edge of that vehicle and repeat the sequence at each successive lane making sure not to enter it until after traffic is stopped.

For the driver, there is always the onus of having to exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who is on the highway. Most of us would immediately think that this would only apply if the pedestrian is using an area where vehicles normally drive. This would be incorrect, as by definition places such as the shoulder and sidewalks are part of the highway. We must pay attention to the travels of people on foot to yield the right of way as required by law and to prevent a collision through anticipation of what might happen.

If we approach the act of driving and walking with an attitude of sharing the road together chances are that we will avoid difficulties. It is when we become selfish and insist on being first that the problems begin, particularly for the pedestrian as they are the ones with the most to lose regardless of whether they are right or wrong.

Other articles on this site related to pedestrians.

Comments

Maybe

I can't tell if the have sped up the video in the first part, but at the end when it's dark the cars are still speeding by, and to top it off it's now raining. Parked vehicles which makes pedestrians almost invisible to passing vehicles as they approach the crosswalk makes me shake my head at the speed they blow through a crosswalk, without a clear view they should be slowing down as approaching the crosswalk, pedestrians could very well be "IN" the crosswalk already and not be seen, not that they should just walk out infront of an oncomming vehicle, but the drivers should be more prepared just in case.

I think speed limits in residential areas should only be 30 km/hr anyways.

The first thing to do is to understand what a "Crosswalk" is

Most drivers know that they must "yield the right of way to a pedestrian..... when the pedestrian is crossing the highway in a crosswalk......"

BUT, how many know what a crosswalk is ?

Class1 Driver says "without a clear view they should be slowing down as approaching the crosswalk"

Are you aware that EVERY intersection is a crosswalk ?  So drivers should be slowing down approaching every intersection ?

The Motor Vehicle Act of BC does not differentiate between "marked crosswalk" and "unmarked crosswalk".

Those same TV stations that are harping away at crosswalk safety, frequently mention pedestrian accidents "at a marked crosswalk" as though running over a pedestrian in a "marked crosswalk" is more serious.   It's the same ticket. The motorist has the same duty and responsibility to stop, lines on the roadway or not.

(From the Motor Vehicle Act)

"crosswalk" means
(a) a portion of the roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs or by lines or other markings on the surface, or
(b) the portion of a highway at an intersection that is included within the connection of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on the opposite sides of the highway, or within the extension of the lateral lines of the sidewalk on one side of the highway, measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway;

How many thought that a crosswalk was only "(a)" above ?

Yes, I am very aware.

You sound like you disagree with my comment, is that the case?
Class1 Driver says "without a clear view they should be slowing down as approaching the crosswalk"

"Are you aware that EVERY intersection is a crosswalk ? So drivers should be slowing down approaching every intersection ?"

Absolutely you should be slowing down for every intersection you don't have a clear view, is there a reason you believe you shouldn't have to?

Hmmm

I read my5cents comment twice now and it sounds like he is agreeing with your first comment as far as I can see. Why do you think they disagree?

With the 2 questions to my comment.

Is what makes me think they are disagreeing.

My comment: Class1 Driver says "without a clear view they should be slowing down as approaching the crosswalk"

my5cents 2 questions to my comment: "Are you aware that EVERY intersection is a crosswalk ?  So drivers should be slowing down approaching every intersection ?"

Maybe it's just me reading it wrong as I read it several times as well, it just seems like they are asking that I am actually suggesting slowing down for all intersection that don't have a clear view.

OK, I See...

The trouble with this format is there is no face to see and tone of voice to hear.

I agree with you, if you can't see, you can't go and need to exercise caution rather than just say "I have the right of way" and carry on through. Often enough drivers are mistaken about the right of way.

LOL, I know, EH

That's why I was asking, but seeing as they were questions after my comment, is what made me wonder.

Yes many drivers think just because it's a green light or a 2 way stop that they aren't facing a stop sign, they don't need to slow down if there isn't a clear view, they just assume they have the right of way, there are way too many variables to just blindly proceed if you have no clue what is coming, even if the other drivers have stop signs or red lights.

I hope we find out :-)

Submitted by E-mail

What is needed is a standardized education. One that teaches drivers, cyclists, boarders and pedestrians exactly the same thing. Crossing guards also need a tune-up. There is nothing wrong with making school children wait a moment so as to phase their crossing with the nearest traffic light.

Submitted by E-Mail

Interesting! I wouldn't have thought it either.

However, I do have a possible query. The new flashing crosswalks! Surely if the lights are flashing, vehicles both motorized or cycles are required to yield to pedestrians waiting but not actually on the crosswalk?

Perhaps your advice could confuse some people in these situations.

Answer

That did run through my mind when I was writing the article, which is why I linked it to other related articles here on the site.

A flashing yellow light means that you must exercise caution and yield as necessary:

Flashing lights

131 (3) When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) the driver of a vehicle facing the flashes of yellow light may cause it to enter the intersection and proceed only with caution, but must yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection or an adjacent crosswalk, and

(b) a pedestrian facing the flashes of yellow light may proceed with caution across the roadway, in a marked or unmarked crosswalk.

(4) When rapid intermittent flashes of yellow light are exhibited at a place other than an intersection by a traffic control signal,

(a) the driver of a vehicle approaching the signal may cause the vehicle to pass the signal only with caution, and must yield the right of way to pedestrians in the roadway or on any crosswalk in the vicinity of the signal, and

(b) a pedestrian may proceed across the roadway with caution.

Reading closely, it speaks of on the roadway or in the crosswalk, not approaching the crosswalk.

A pedestrian approaching a crosswalk has a duty as well:

Rights of way between vehicle and pedestrian

179 (2) A pedestrian must not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.

So, we are really back to what the article says, we've just added an announcement to the mix by using the flashing light instead of pointing our way across with an arm signal.

More information needed

Media reports state this accident occurred about 6 pm on Feb 2, 2016.  It was dark outside and the rain further worsened visability.

According to media reports, the family of four was in the crosswalk when a car struck the 4-year-old girl, the 6-year-old boy and the mother.  The children sustained serious injuries, with one having critical injuries.  The mother had minor injuries.  The father was not injured.

There was no mention of the clothing worn by the members of this family.  Did they wear bright, reflective clothing that could be easily seen by motorists?

There was no mention as to whether a parked vehicle near the crosswalk obstucted the visibility of oncoming motorists.

There was no mention as to who entered the crosswalk first.  Did the children, or one or both of the parents go first?  The fact that the children received the most serious injuries suggests that the children entered the crosswalk first and/or were much slower getting out of the way.  An adult should have entered the crosswalk first to ensure that oncoming vehicles were slowing and stopping before the children entered the crosswalk.

The detailed information should be revealed in the RCMP investigation.  But will it result in any real changes?  Will it result in a law that pedestrians on roadways need to wear bright reflective clothing, and need to make eye contact with oncoming motorists before using a crosswalk?  And, if so, would the police inforce such laws?

I avoid driving after dusk, especially when it is raining, because too many pedestrians wear dark clothing and are not paying attention.  Some are focused on their cell phone or other electronic device as they enter a crosswalk, apparently assuming that motorists will see them and stop in time.  Some do not use a crosswalk when crossing a busy roadway.  Often they wear dark clothing at night when it is raining.  Motorists face the ongoing challenge of observing and avoid hitting pedestrians who are not paying attention and/or who wear dark clothing in dark, wet conditions.

It's Typical

The police aren't going to release details until their investigation is complete and the media are usually on to some other topic by then and are not interested. Chances are good that the public will never hear the whole story, particularly what will likely be ongoing health issues for the children.

I have seen in past that pedestrians tend to get off lightly when it comes to receiving a ticket for misbehaviour. Officers tend to look at it that the person has already suffered sufficiently for their mistake and issuing a ticket is just adding insult to injury, literally.

Looks like it was dry at the time.

If you watch the video when the white vehicle that hit them and the police and ambulances are there, it sure looks dry to me.

And wondering how you get eye contact with the driver at night? Unless it has allready slowed and come to an almost complete stop. Even if the driver wasn't speeding, as they say they weren't, I just can't see the driver paying attention and expecting anything to happen as it approached an intersection, which also leads me to belive there was a parked vehicle there, otherwise it becomes even more likely the driver was on a phone or texting or distracted from their job of driving, as how do you miss 4 humans otherwise at a lighted crosswalk/intersection, certainly from not paying attention.

But the other side of the coin, why would the family walk infront of a moving vehicle? I don't even step into a controlled crosswalk on a green light showing me a walk light unless I know all traffic is stopping or stopped, if it's bigger than you it has the right of way, even if it's running a red light, being "dead right" just doesn't fit into living another day.

Submitted by E-Mail

I think there should be proper education on how to use a crosswalk.

In Ontario, from where I moved 7 years ago, from the time crosswalks came into effect, pedestrians were instructed how to use them. Don't step into the crosswalk until you hold your arm straight out in front of you with your hand pointed to the other side and don't walk until you have made eye contact with the drivers on either side of the crosswalk and they have come to a full stop - it is just common sense.

I have never heard of so many pedestrians being injured or killed in crosswalks, especially in Vancouver. It is such an unnecessary tragedy.

We are all pedestrians

Interesting, isn't it.  Most of us are drivers, all of us at one time or another are pedestrians. 

Yes there should be education but, should it be limited to "use of a crosswalk" or on how to cross the road ?

As motorists some of us are "high and mighty" because we "know the rules" it's those darn pedestrians that don't know what they are doing.   But as I said we are all pedestrians at some time or another.

OK here's a short quiz....

What is "J  Walking" ?  (most will get this one wrong)

Is "J Walking" illegal everywhere in BC or just in cities, or just in some cities. 

When "J  Walking" is illegal, what type of law covers that ?  ie, The Motor Vehicle Act of BC, or a local Municipal By Law.

When a pedestrian activates a pedestrian crossing light, if the light is red and the pedestrian has crossed, can we then drive through the red light ?  If so, in all cases or just some cases ?

So maybe there should be education for motorists and pedestrians.

my5cents???

Does this mean you are ignoring my question to your first comment you made on this topic??

Sure would like to hear your point. You were making a point, correct?

Yes it does mean I was ignoring your question

"You sound like you disagree with my comment, is that the case ?"

I didn't disagree or agree.  The comment didn't seem to make a whole lot of sence.  Conditions change from location to location, many variables.  If there is poor visability a driver should already be travelling at a slower rate, hazards don't just appear at intersections.

The speed limit is intended as the upper limit, for times when all conditions are ideal, traffic congestion, pedestrian traffic, weather, lighting, visability and lots of other conditions.

The concept of slowing at a crosswalk, then resuming a higher speed and slowing at the next crosswalk, was either a poorly chosen comment or you didn't realize that every intersection is a crosswalk.

 

 

So you do disagree,,, Thank You.

Poorly chosen comment?

Here is your original questions: "Are you aware that EVERY intersection is a crosswalk ? So drivers should be slowing down approaching every intersection ?"

Then my comment: Absolutely you should be slowing down for every intersection you don't have a clear view, is there a reason you believe you shouldn't have to?

Now your answer confirming that I thought you had disagreed with my clearly stated answer :  "The concept of slowing at a crosswalk, then resuming a higher speed and slowing at the next crosswalk, was either a poorly chosen comment or you didn't realize that every intersection is a crosswalk."

Not a poorly chosen comment at all, in fact it's a very correct statement and the proper way to drive. Your comment suggests exactly what I thought you were thinking, why should you have to slow down at "every" intersection there isn't a clear view.

It makes no difference if it's a 2 way stop that your not facing a stop sign as the cross traffic is, or if your approaching a green light at an intersection, Yes you need to slow down each time at every intersection there is not a clear view, that's not a concept, it's the correct & safe way to drive.

And seeing as you just proved you disagree with my comment by thinking you don't have to slow down each & every intersection with no clear view, may I suggest to you to invest in some proper defensive driving lessons, it may help you avoid a crash.

 

Can't resist a Quiz. Might be able to add something.

 

OK here's a short quiz....

What is "J  Walking" ?  (most will get this one wrong)

Is "J Walking" illegal everywhere in BC or just in cities, or just in some cities. 

When "J  Walking" is illegal, what type of law covers that ?  ie, The Motor Vehicle Act of BC, or a local Municipal By Law.

When a pedestrian activates a pedestrian crossing light, if the light is red and the pedestrian has crossed, can we then drive through the red light ?  If so, in all cases or just some cases ?

So maybe there should be education for motorists and pedestrians.

 

'J Walking'?  I would consider that to be contravening Section 180.  Most people don't realize it, but so long as you don't affect traffic (I would include bicyclists and horses, etc) then you can cross the street anywhere you want in BC, under Provincial law.

'Illegal'?  Well, it may be - but only if a local By-Law has been enacted that prevents it (such as in the City of Vancouver, I think).

'Pedestrian Crossing Light - Red'? These things are weird, eh?  Unique to BC.  Put into use, if I'm not mistaken, back in 1960; their purpose being to provide a mid-block crosswalk opportunity for pedestrians who might otherwise be tempted to dash across the street instead of walking to the nearest corner. Municipal Traffic Engineers have been mis-using them for decades now, placing them all too often at intersections, where they don't belong. Meanwhile, Section 129 governs behaviour at a Red Light. No intersection?  No reason to remain stationary once the pedestrian(s) are out of the way - you can drive through it.

(From the Motor Vehicle Act)

"crosswalk" means

(a) a portion of the roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs or by lines or other markings on the surface, or

(b) the portion of a highway at an intersection that is included within the connection of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on the opposite sides of the highway, or within the extension of the lateral lines of the sidewalk on one side of the highway, measured from the curbs, or in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway;

 

This is actually worthy of our attention.  Apart from anything else, it should make us immediately aware that the vast majority of crosswalks in BC are not marked; they just are.  It would take tanker trucks full of white highway paint to make them visible; and the end result would probably be casualties by the score, as marked crosswalks all too often provide pedestrians with a false sense of security; that's why they don't do this.

We can only understand where crosswalks exist though, if we also understand the meaning of 'sidewalk'.  From memory (because I don't recall where it exists in the mighty Motor Vehicle Act) I believe that it is defined as 'an area improved for the use of pedestrians'.  So, not somebody's front lawn, for instance.  And not at every intersection; because not every intersection has sidewalks on all of the streets that, uh, intersect there.

Education for motorists and pedestrians is a terrific idea, and long overdue.  Include cyclists in that too, please.  It should be included in school curricula from an early age, and made available in the basic ICBC Road User guide; this would be particularly helpful to new Canadians and visitors from around the world.  But try to find anything like that on the ICBC Site and you're wasting your time.

As for me, I'll continue to cross the road in the safest possible place - middle of the block, with a clear view in both directions, more often than not.  Intersections are way too complicated ... and being dead right just makes you right.  And dead.

I have to ask!

So, do I win a prize?

Meanwhile, see what you make of these crosswalks!

 

2 out of 3

Sorry, close but no cigar. 2 out of 3 correct.

“I would consider that to be contravening Section 180 (MVA)”

Sec 180 just says that the pedestrian must yield the right of way to a vehicle. Nothing to do with J Walking.

“J Walking” is crossing a roadway within one block of a traffic control device. There is no section in the Motor Vehicle Act of BC that restricts pedestrians from J Walking, with the exception of being in the vicinity of a Pedestrian Controlled Signal.

Sec 133, states:

Pedestrian controlled signal

133 Where a pedestrian is instructed or permitted by a traffic control signal to enter or to proceed across a roadway, he or she must do so
(a) at an intersection, only in a marked or unmarked crosswalk, and
(b) at a place other than an intersection, in the vicinity of which there is a marked crosswalk, only in the crosswalk.

This section does restrict pedestrians from crossing a street “in the vicinity …… (of a) …… marked crosswalk”, but the heading “Pedestrian controlled signal” would limit this section for circumstances involving Ped Operated signals only.

Kudos for mentioning that the definition of “sidewalk” is very germane to the definition of “crosswalk”, I missed that. The definition of both can be found in Sec 119 of the MVA: http://www.bclaws.ca/civix/document/LOC/complete/statreg/--%20M%20--/47_Motor%20Vehicle%20Act%20[RSBC%201996]%20c.%20318/00_Act/96318_05.xml#section119

Part II you are correct. Places like Vancouver with it’s Street and Traffic Bylaw, restrict “J Walking”

Part III you are also correct. If you stop at a red light, that is NOT at an intersection, if it is safe to do so you can drive through it. I wouldn’t suggest it though, because there are lots of police who do not know or appreciate the fine points of the MVA and who wants to spend a morning in court just to prove you know the MVA better than the cop that wrote you up.

Explanation: As you said Section 129 tells all of us, drivers as well as pedestrians, what to do at a red light. Under subsection (1) (after stopping). “must not cause the vehicle to proceed until a traffic control signal instructs the driver that he or she is permitted to do so”

But subsection (5) in describing what to do at a red light exhibited at a place “other than an intersection”, says a vehicle must stop before entering the nearest marked crosswalk, but it does NOT say must not proceed until a traffic control signal instructs. Thusly you can proceed.

And the prize ? Here’s how to get out of a J Walking ticket in Vancouver.

Definition of “J Walking” in Bylaw 2849 City of Vancouver:
"Jaywalk" means to cross a roadway, not being a lane, at any place which is not within a crosswalk and which is less than one block from an intersection at which traffic control signals are in operation.

Before you touch the curb on the far side of the roadway check for police, if you’ve been spotted, walk back. As long as you don’t touch to other side you did not “cross” the roadway.

Ain't bad, right?

Not to be pedantic, but does the term 'J Walking' (or Jaywalking, which is how I've more often seen it spelled) actually get used in the MVA and/or Regs?

If not, then maybe I get two and a half out of three!  A general Google search provides this, this, and this for instance.  The general - or perhaps generic - meaning being to cross carelessly or heedlessly, so to speak.  But then again, Wikipedia provides "Jaywalking occurs when a pedestrian crosses a roadway where regulations do not permit doing so", which definitely seems to support your definition, I must admit.

There's an interesting contrast between how they look at things in the UK, compared to the US when you look at that last link, and it probably originates from the cultural background along with the development of the automobile.  On this continent, it seems to me that crosswalks being made legally existent at intersections resulted from extension of the corresponding boardwalks back in the days of unpaved streets and around the time that they were figuring out which side of the road people should drive on (in Vancouver, that didn't happen until 1922).

I must admit, I had forgotten Section 133.  Anybody got a definition of  'vicinity'?  I don't think that it's specifically one block ... 

Were you Robbed of a mark ?

No, jaywalking is not mentioned in the MVA or the MVR.

As for the definition, I guess as a society we can define things the way we want, as long as we understand what is meant by the term.  Describing or naming an offense in legal circles is a different matter.

Many legal terms are horribly misued.  Many people would say when they received a ticket for being a pedestrian disobeying a red traffic light ("Ped Red"), that they received a "Jaywalking" or "J Walking" ticket.  Much in line with some of the definitions you have sighted.

How many times have you heard on the evening news :

"There was a robbery last night at the _____ the thieves broke in through a rear door while the _____ was closed and stole....."

This "robbery" was NOT a robbery, a robbery is stealing or trying to steal something with violence or threats of violence.  Breaking into an unoccupied premises is a Burglary.

Or...

"The 7-11 Store at ______ was robbed yesterday afternoon, thieves pointed what appeared to be a shotgun at the clerk and obtained the contents of the cash register."

This "robbery" WAS a robbery, but "thieves" didn't point the gun, "robbers" did.  If you need to use other words to describe the robbers in your story, then use... "culprit", or "suspect", or "assailant".  In our world of TV news with one minutes story segments this is where we're at.

It's common for us to hear when a BURGLARY is discovered "we've been robbed".  And the person or persons who did it are NOT "thieves" they are "burglars".  Who knows, maybe after the B&E (Burglary) they Jaywalked.

The definition I use for J Walking or Jaywalking, comes from the Vancouver Street and Traffic Bylaw.  Since Vancouver has a law against crossing the street within one block of a crosswalk or traffic control device, they had to define the act and call it something so they called it Jaywalking.

I think you are correct, that likely the source of the term came from pedestrians wandering out onto the street without consideration for vehcles and or likely horse drawn implements.

Ironically, in Vancovuer where there is a Jaywalking law, if a pedestrian walked carelessly into the street, as described in some of the definitions of Jaywalking you sighted but wasn't actually crossing the street, they would not be jaywalking even in Vancouver.  They would be in violation of Section 179(2) of the MVA for being a Pedestrian Leaving a Place of Safety.  Because in Vancouver Jaywalking is actually crossing the street, not wandering in it.

I agree, Sec 133 is a nightmare, "vicinity", really ??

On review of your answer to Part I, I have to deny your appeal for half a mark.  Had you answered the other portion "What is J Walking" and provided the definitions you did, I would have had to given you at least the half make and likely a full one.  But you answered the second part "Is J Walking illegal anywhere in BC" and replied with Section 180 of the MVA, which is incorrect.

There's always summer school.  :)

Summer School? Aaaaargh!

Some skills I have, others not so much.  Top of my High School in English Grammar (though you might not guess it from some of my posts).  But only after taking Math 11 for the 3rd time - in summer school - did I finally obtain the credits necessary to graduate.  They told me I wasn't allowed to take Math 12, though - as if!

It's common for us to hear when a BURGLARY is discovered "we've been robbed".  And the person or persons who did it are NOT "thieves" they are "burglars".  Who knows, maybe after the B&E (Burglary) they Jaywalked.

Made me laugh. I think you and I would get along, eh?  

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