Dear Matthew Alice: The other day I was walking across the street when this guy in his little yuppiemobile practically kneecapped me as he drove by. I gave him my best glare, and he yelled back, “No crosswalk.” I wasn’t jaywalking. There just wasn’t a crosswalk painted on the street. Don’t cars have to yield to pedestrians who are crossing streets legally, even if there’s no painted crosswalk? — Pedestrians Have Rights Too, Normal Heights
An inquiry close to my heart. Matthew Alice is a confirmed walkaholic. Sitting on my can in front of a computer all day is like being buried alive. But as a full-disclosure know-it-all, I must admit my career is tarnished with two jaywalking tickets; by comparison, I have acquired exactly zero traffic tickets. Apparently I’m no threat behind the wheel, but let loose on foot, I become some witless wanderer, a danger to myself and others. If my word has any validity, given that shameful record, here’s your answer.
Paragraph 21950(a) of the California Vehicle Code states, “The driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or within any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection....” Judgment in favor of us pedestrians, seems to me. Paragraph 21950 also talks about how both driver and pedestrian must exercise “due care” for the pedestrian’s safety (a case-by-case judgment call). You can’t leap out from between parked cars and expect drivers to come to a screeching halt. As a side note, if you’re crossing the street on a foot-powered scooter, you’re still a pedestrian. But Paragraph 21200 ofthe same CVC says, “Every person riding a bicycle upon a roadway...is subject to all the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle....” Stop at stop signs, don’t ride against traffic, yield to pedestrians, give directional signals — all those things most bike riders usually don’t do. Even San Diego’s muni code says skateboards and scooters and Big Wheels on sidewalks have to yield to us walkers. So the pedestrian is king. As it should be.