Rules of the Road

infographic on pedestrian traffic accidentsAs communities are getting greener, incentives and urban design are beginning to favor bikes and pedestrians. However, there seems to be confusion about things like right-of-way and road-sharing laws.

As you know, a few secondsconfusion can lead to an accident. So can breaking a law that you were unaware of.  

So, weve compiled some of the oft-confused laws where we can finally set the record straight.


Though technically illegal throughout Washington, its really just enforced in Seattle, where officers are vigilant with citing jaywalkers.

Theres the (somewhat) famous story in 1978:

Patrick Fitzsimmons came into town to interview for the police chief position. He was looking out the window of his Belltown hotel, when he started excitedly calling his wife over, Ogla, you gotta see this! Its pouring rain, its Sunday morning, and they are waiting for the light to crosswe are staying here!

Jaywalking law is officially as follows, Pedestrians who are between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation must not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.

A lesser-known fact: once the walksignal disappears and the marker starts to count down, its technically jaywalking.

It carries a $56 ticket in Seattle, and people could be cited in other cities. Officers are strict about it due to the amount of deaths theyve seen caused by jaywalking.

Marked and Unmarked Crosswalks

Pedestrians have the right-of-way for both marked and unmarked crosswalks at intersections. Yes, you are legal to cross the road, even if a crosswalk does not have lines. An important note for drivers and cyclists – you can resume driving once the pedestrian is in the other half of the roadway.

When a pedestrian is crossing an unmarked crosswalk, and not at an intersection, that person needs to yield to the vehicle.

Pedestrians are never allowed to cross a road diagonally, unless instructed by a police officer.

Bicyclists Must Comply With Road Laws

We see so many cyclists run stop signs and blaze through red lights, like perhaps being on a bike exempts them from road laws. This is not true!

If you are on the road, you are subject to the same laws as everyone else, and thus you face the same punishments as everyone else.

Drivers Must Be Mindful, Too

Cyclists do have exclusive rights, namely when a bike lane is present. You may find yourself waiting to make a right turn, yet theres a stream of cyclists approaching you in the bike lane. The law states that first, you must wait until the cyclists have passed, and second, you cannot use the bike lane as a turn lane. True, this may greatly aid traffic flow, but it puts the cyclists at risk.

Please understand that any confusion on traffic etiquette can result in a dangerous situation. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a pedestrian or cyclist, even ones that may seem minor, we encourage you to contact us at Philbrook Law and take advantage of our free advice.

Recent Posts

Leave a Comment