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A crosswalk is that area of a roadway where pedestrians have the right-of-way. Crosswalks may be "marked" or "unmarked." A "marked crosswalk" is any crosswalk which is delineated by white or yellow painted markings placed on the pavement. All other crosswalk locations are therefore "unmarked."

Under the California Vehicle Code, crosswalks exist at all intersections, extending across the street from the corner curbs, or on other parts of the street designated as pedestrian crossing locations by the painted lines, unless signed otherwise.

Q: How are crosswalks used?

A: At any crosswalk (marked or unmarked) drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Crosswalks are marked mainly to encourage pedestrians to use a particular crossing. Studies conducted on the relative safety of crosswalks support minimal installation of marked crosswalks.

Q: How and where are crosswalks normally installed?

A: Crosswalks are installed at intersections where there is substantial conflict between vehicle and pedestrian movements, where significant pedestrian concentrations occur, where pedestrians could not otherwise recognize the proper place to cross, and where traffic movements are controlled. Examples of these locations are as follows:

  • Approved school crossings
  • Signalized and four-way stop intersections

These examples follow the philosophy of marking crosswalks as a form of encouragement. We are encouraging school children to use a crossing which is normally being monitored. In the second example, we are encouraging all pedestrians to avoid a prohibited crossing.

Q: When are crosswalks not installed?

A: It is the City of Eureka’s policy not to paint crosswalks at mid-block or other locations where traffic is not controlled by stop signs or traffic signals. Painted crosswalks should only be used where necessary to direct pedestrians along the safest route.

Q: What causes accidents at marked crosswalks?

A: Research suggests that marked crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security. Pedestrians often step off the curb into the crosswalk expecting drivers of vehicles approaching the crosswalk to stop. However, drivers frequently fail to stop and cause an accident. At all crosswalks, both marked and unmarked, it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to be cautious and alert before starting to cross the street.

At crosswalks on multi-lane roadways, another frequent factor in causing accidents involves the driver of a vehicle in the lane nearest to the curb stopping for a pedestrian that is waiting to cross or who is already in the crosswalk. The driver of a second vehicle traveling in the lane next to the stopped vehicle tries to pass the stopped vehicle and hits the pedestrian, even though it is illegal for drivers to pass a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk. Pedestrians should be very cautious when walking in a crosswalk, especially when their visibility is limited by vehicles already stopped at the crosswalk.

Q: What are special school crosswalks?

A: When a marked crosswalk has been established adjacent to a school building or school grounds, it shall be painted yellow. Other established marked crosswalks may be painted yellow if either the nearest point of a crosswalk is not more than 600 feet from a school building or grounds.

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