Crossing Between Intersections

Question

Harry asked: Is it legal for a pedestrian or bicyclist (who is riding on the sidewalk) to cross Norvell Bryant Hwy between the signalized intersections of Ottawa Ave. and Forest Ridge Blvd. in Citrus County? ( https://goo.gl/maps/andZDgvsff52 )

Section 316.130(11), Fla. Stat. forbids a pedestrian from crossing a road between adjacent signalized intersections unless a mid-block crosswalk has been provided: “<i>Between adjacent intersections at which traffic control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk</i>”

There are no mid-block crosswalks, but I don’t know if the two “roads” between the signalized intersections where vehicles can turn on or off the highway create intersections. One “road” connects to a County waste treatment facility and the other is the entrance to a private residential community. Does an intersection exist at either of these locations?

“<i>INTERSECTION.—(a) The area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curblines or, if none, then the lateral boundary lines of the roadways of two highways which join one another at, or approximately at, right angles; or the area within which vehicles traveling upon different highways joining at any other angle may come in conflict.</i> § 316.003(31), Fla. Stat.

“<i>ROADWAY.—That portion of a highway improved, designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel, exclusive of the berm or shoulder. . .</i>” § 316.003(64), Fla. Stat.

Answer

You have quoted the applicable laws except for this one:

s. 316.2065Bicycle Regulations

(9) A person propelling a vehicle by human power upon and along a sidewalk, or across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk, has all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances.

I believe both “roadways” and “intersections” meet the definition of same.

I would venture a guess that the answer for pedestrians, including those walking their bicycles, depends on the meaning of “adjacent”, which Webster’s says is “near or close”.   Are the two intersections close or near each other? It doesn’t look like it to me.

Keep in mind that when a bicyclist leaves the sidewalk and enters the roadway, the statute above no longer applies except at a crosswalk.  Rules of the roadway would guide the actions of the cyclist.

Posted in Ask Geo, Sidewalks & Crosswalks
10 comments on “Crossing Between Intersections
  1. The Florida Uniform Traffic Control Law’s definition of “Street or Highway” (s. 316.003(53)) defines the term very broadly, making no distinction between “street” and “highway”. It is based on the definition in the Uniform Vehicle Code. Although in everyday speech we attach different meanings to “street” and “highway”, in urban settings the distinction is often not clear cut; a major street may have a highway route number or, even without any route designation, may exhibit characteristics of a “highway”. Defining the two terms to be interchangeable avoided confusion about the applicability of provisions that referred to “street” or to “highway”, but not both.

    The definition of “Intersection”, quoted in the original post, requires that “roadways of two highways… join one another…”–not necessarily cross one another–at such a location. Thus, a T-intersection (side street connection) would still count as an “intersection”.

    In any case, the provision that prohibits pedestrian crossing “between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation” (s. 316.130(11)” becomes impractical to apply in a segment where the nearest signalized intersections in both directions are spaced so far apart that one or both may not even be visible to a pedestrian or, if both visible, are nevertheless sufficiently distant it may be difficult to judge whether another “intersection” lies between them.

    This provision of Florida’s traffic code was based on s. 11-503 of the Uniform Vehicle Code, which has been in the UVC since at least the mid-20th century (oldest edition of the UVC searchable in Google Books is the 1956 edition, which contains the provision). As automobiles became increasingly common in the early 20th century, ordinances to regulate pedestrian street crossing were adopted by many US cities in the late 1920s, and “became the norm by the 1930s” (http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26073797 ); the rule prohibiting pedestrian crossing between adjacent signalized intersections may well date from that time.

    Authors of the rule likely had in mind signalized intersections at both ends of a conventional city block, one or the other of which would be sufficiently close that a pedestrian could reasonably be expected to walk to one of them to cross the street.

    As Geo mentioned, a cyclist who leaves a sidewalk to enter the roadway (outside of a crosswalk) ceases to be subject to pedestrian regulations; ordinary road rules would apply.

  2. HarryB says:

    Dwight’s explanation seems reasonable and the history lesson helpful, so permit me to drill down a little deeper before I discuss the two situations which caused me to ask my initial question.

    As he wrote, an intersection exists where the roadways of two highways join one another, and this includes a “T” intersection. And because an unmarked crosswalk exists on all sides of an intersection, it is generally accepted that a “T” intersection has three crosswalks whether marked or not: “CROSSWALK.—(a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway.” § 316.003(15), Fla. Stat.

    However, § 316.003(31)(b) informs us: “Where a highway includes two roadways 30 feet or more apart, every crossing of each roadway of such divided highway by an intersecting highway shall be regarded as a separate intersection. . .”

    But what about a “T” intersection which joins a divided highway where the two roadways are more than 30 feet apart—the “side street connection” does not cross the highway, it only joins one roadway. Wouldn’t an intersection exist only where the two roadways join, but not on the roadway on the other side of the median?

    And if that is the case, would an unmarked crosswalk still extend across both roadways even though an intersection exists at only one roadway?

    The distance between the roadways at the two locations I mentioned in my initial post appears to be greater than 30 feet (I haven’t measured it, but Google Maps’ measuring tool [which seems to be remarkably accurate] claims there’s at least 50 feet between the roadways). So, would a crosswalk extend from one side of the highway to the other regardless of the distance between the two roadways at a “T” intersection?

    Please consider these examples of where I sometimes ride because I am trying to understand my legal rights and duties:
    GPS: 28.899143, -82.455068
    GPS: 28.893359, -82.462774

    Would I be crossing the highway in an unmarked crosswalk if I made a 90 degree turn off the shared-use path (sidewalk) at those locations and crossed the highway to the sidewalk on the other side?

  3. Geo says:

    Harry,

    I think the term “intersection” describes the entire meeting of the roadways and not just one part.

    My guess, and that is all it is since I don’t have the intent or case law to back it up, is that the area crossing the main road at the residential community does not satisfy “the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway” because they meet at 90 degree angles and would not be an unmarked crosswalk.

    The only crosswalk would be across the side road. To avoid a possible violation, I suggest walking the bike across the main road and the median at that intersection when leaving the community. The left turn lane could be used when entering the community from the opposite travel lane.

    It appears the crossing at the waste facility has a roadway across both sides of the main road and the following would apply:

    s. 316.090 – Driving on Divided Highways
    (1) Whenever any highway has been divided into two or more roadways by leaving an intervening space or by a physical barrier or clearly indicated dividing section so constructed as to impede vehicular traffic, every vehicle shall be driven only upon the right-hand roadway unless directed or permitted to use another roadway by official traffic control devices or police officers.
    (2) No vehicle shall be driven over, across, or within any such dividing space, barrier, or section, except through an opening in such physical barrier or dividing section or space or at a crossover or intersection as established, unless specifically authorized by public authority.

    I would not count on anyone recognizing that an unmarked crosswalk exists there, if in fact it does. I think it probably does not since there is no connecting line to a sidewalk on the opposite side.

    Due to the above and previously quoted statutes, it would not be legal to ride across the roadway and median at any other location, so walking the bike across would be advisable.

  4. HarryB says:

    Geo,

    I’ve been thinking more about this, and it seems to me that IF the two locations we’ve been discussing are “T” intersections, then three crosswalks do exist at each location.

    Permit me to first back up a little: My understanding of the history of our traffic laws is that at one time pedestrians and drivers had equal rights (and reciprocal responsibilities) to use the highway. Over time our society has statutorily ceded most of the highway to motorized vehicles (roadways) and relegated pedestrians to the shoulder or narrow sidewalks, essentially creating two separated public ways.

    Where the two separated ways cross, the statutes give priority to pedestrians (and bicyclists who are riding on the sidewalk) by requiring motorists to yield unless the crossing is at a signalized intersection where priority is assigned by the traffic signals. Or to put it another way, the right of a pedestrian to continue to travel in the direction he or she is going across a roadway (to reach a sidewalk on the opposite side of the road) is superior to the right of a motorist to continue to travel on the roadway across the extension of the sidewalk (the crosswalk).

    It is in this context that I understand the statutory definition of crosswalk to mean that if a pedestrian (or bicyclist in my situation) continues traveling in the direction he or she is going across the divided highway, and eventually reaches a sidewalk on the other side of the highway, he crossed the roadway in a crosswalk: “CROSSWALK.— (a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway. . .” § 316.003(15), Fla. Stat.

    So, in one of the examples I provided (GPS 28.893359, -82.462774 ), a pedestrian or bicyclist who is leaving the private residential community on the sidewalk (if the developers had cared enough to provide paved sidewalks) and continues across the two roadways will reach the sidewalk (shared-use path in this case) on the opposite side of the highway. Consequently, I believe a total of three crosswalks exist at that location even though the County didn’t care enough about pedestrians’ safety to mark all of them.

  5. NE2 says:

    Whether one or three unmarked crosswalks exists at a T intersection is something that different state courts have ruled differently about. I believe Arizona changed their law to clarify that yes, there are three, after the court said there’s only one. But another state (Kentucky?) said there are three when interpreting the same part of the UVC.

  6. HarryB says:

    My original question was an attempt to get a better understanding of crosswalk laws because of two situations I encountered which involved crossing a highway while not driving a motor vehicle. One situation affects me directly (although not frequently), so I’ll ask about it first.

    Recently I was eastbound on the shared-use path (“trail”) which parallels Norvell Bryant Hwy when I came upon a plastic barricade in the middle of the trail with a sign “SIDEWALK CLOSED – CROSS HERE” and an arrow pointing toward the road. The precise location is: GPS 28.899143, -82.455068 .

    The sign is rectangular in shape with a white background and black letters. Wouldn’t that make it a regulatory sign and the instruction a legal requirement rather than a mere suggestion? (The trail is indeed closed further along because it has been torn up.)

    There is a strip of grass between the trail and the curb, and the County has not provided a curb cut at this location, nor any crosswalk markings on the road. Does the County really consider crossing the road in this manner at this location to be safe for the intended users of the trail, including people in wheelchairs? (People who have dealt with our County regarding pedestrian or bicycle issues will understand the rhetorical nature of the question.)

    If Geo is correct that an unmarked crosswalk does not exist at this location, what am I to make of this sign? Does its regulatory nature create an unmarked crosswalk where one normally does not exist?

    For the record, I did cross the highway at that location but no, I did not walk my bicycle because I have a visceral reaction to any suggestions or recommendations that I need to dismount from my bicycle and walk across a public way.

  7. Per the MUTCD 1A.08 P03, “All regulatory traffic control devices shall be supported by laws, ordinances, or regulations” (http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009r1r2/part1/part1a.htm#section1A08 ). The presence of the SIDEWALK CLOSED – CROSS HERE sign Harry saw certainly supports that the sidewalk-maintaining agency viewed the location, at least, as a legal one for pedestrian crossing–but does it recognize the location as an unmarked crosswalk (i.e., that a crossing pedestrian has priority)? I think a case could be made that it does but, if so, how much could I (as a crossing pedestrian or cyclist) rely on such unmarked crosswalk status to be recognized by drivers and to elicit driver yielding at this location?

    At an unmarked crosswalk, in principle any approaching through or turning driver should “yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within [the] crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger” (s. 316.130(7)(c)). Have approaching drivers been observed consistently so to yield on this 45 mph (posted) highway, at this or similar unmarked locations? My own experience and observation in Florida have taught me not to count too much on driver yielding at such locations.

    • HarryB says:

      Dwight,

      You give the “sidewalk-maintaining agency” (the county’s engineering division) too much credit—frankly I would be surprised if they even know about unmarked crosswalks based on discussions I’ve had with them about other non-motorized transportation related issues. The fact that they did not even bother to provide a paved connection (3 feet long?) between the trail and the road, nor a curb cut tells me all I need to know about how much planning they put into this. This is a long term detour and they provided adequate lane closure information for motorists—but trail users…who cares?

      I’m confident this arrangement does not comply with the MUTCD Section 6D.01, P04: “If the TTC (Temporary Traffic Control) zone affects the movement of pedestrians, adequate pedestrian access and walkways shall be provided. If the TTC zone affects an accessible and detectable pedestrian facility, the accessibility and detectability shall be maintained along the alternate pedestrian route.” The trail appears to be mostly ADA compliant if one doesn’t look too closely, so the accessibility requirements also apply at this crossing.

      How difficult could it have been to do it right in the first place? All they had to do was consult the MUTCD, and bingo, they would have discovered a very clear description of how to create a relatively safe detour: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009r1r2/part6/fig6h_28_longdesc.htm

      I plan to discuss this issue at the next Community Traffic Safety Team meeting to see what the County has to say. I know what they will do in response—they will move the sign about 3/4 mile to the west where there is a signalized intersection, something they would have done if they had even the slightest concern for the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists.

      You wrote, “Have approaching drivers been observed consistently so to yield on this 45 mph (posted) highway, at this or similar unmarked locations? My own experience and observation in Florida have taught me not to count too much on driver yielding at such locations.”

      You also give drivers too much credit. My experience, based on cycling five or six days a week (tens of thousands of miles total) on shared-use paths in Florida which have numerous clearly marked crosswalks, is that the driver who does yield unless I force a showdown (which I often do) is a rare one indeed.

      My expectation of drivers yielding at marked crosswalks is essentially non-existent—I can’t even imagine any driver yielding at an unmarked one.

      • Re: “You…give drivers too much credit”. Just to clarify, Harry, I believe the “unmarked crosswalk” classification is virtually unknown to Florida road users; maybe a few dozen people in the whole state could explain the applicable definition and rule.

        Drivers do occasionally yield to pedestrians at intersections without crosswalk markings in residential neighborhoods, but mainly out of courtesy (I suspect) rather than awareness of and compliance with a rule, because the yielding behavior is inconsistent and unpredictable. For example, a driver on an approach with no stop sign will sometimes stop and wave through a cyclist waiting at another approach with a stop sign. Some driivers will yield to a runner, but not to a walker, etc.

        Driver yielding behavior at marked crosswalks in Florida wouldn’t break any records for consistency but seems to vary with various factors–the crossing configuration (major street crossing at intersection, mid-block crossing, side street crossing, etc), type of traffic control (signal, stop sign, yield sign, flashing beacon, etc.), roadway speeds and volume, type of driver movement (through or turn?); and the visibility, assertiveness and timing of the crosswalk user. It also seems to vary in different parts of the state.

        Certainly agree that plunging into a marked crosswalk with blind confidence that any arriving driver will yield (or back up to let one cross) is not a reliable strategy.

  8. HarryB says:

    This message describes the second situation that I recently encountered which caused me to think about crosswalk issues.

    I was in a meeting during which a police officer said he cited a pedestrian for endangering himself because he was crossing the road outside of the nearby crosswalk at the signalized intersection. From what I can gather, he was crossing at this location GPS 28.851806, -82.486844 which I assumed was in an unmarked crosswalk because Rowe Terrace forms a “T” intersection there.

    Nothing was mentioned about him not yielding to oncoming vehicles and there was no implication that he was crossing the road diagonally. Unfortunately I did not ask the officer about the person’s exact movements nor which statute he allegedly violated.

    The person was crossing SR 44 north to south toward the convenience store and walked between westbound vehicles which were stopped for the red traffic signal. Although other traffic conditions were not mentioned, I’m familiar with that crossing and maybe the person understood something about that intersection which the officer didn’t.

    For example, the cycle time at that intersection is long because both highways are high speed, and if pedestrians happen to arrive at an inconvenient time in the cycle they will be waiting for a very long time before they receive a “go” signal.

    Furthermore, once they receive permission to cross the road they need to be on the lookout for westbound vehicles turning right on red and vehicles turning from two directions off CR 491 across their path because the left turn lane has a permissive green. As cyclists and pedestrians know all too well, drivers are seldom looking for pedestrians who may legally be in the crosswalk, and the high speeds increase the chance of things happening quickly.

    If the person crossed the road where I understood he did (even if it is “mid-block” rather than an unmarked crosswalk) the only traffic he would have needed to deal with would be vehicles approaching from only one direction. Unless there were other circumstances which the officer did not mention, I think his actions may have been safer than crossing in the crosswalk.

    I can’t think of any statute which this person could have violated because crossing the road outside of a crosswalk (“jaywalking”) is neither inherently unsafe nor illegal at this location unless the person crossed diagonally.

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