Dear Street Smarts,
Q: I enjoy your column and the energy and enthusiasm you put into it. I’ve been meaning to write with my pet peeve — so here it is: Please let your readers know that if they walk on a street without sidewalks, they should do so facing traffic so that they are able to see oncoming vehicles. This is even more important now that we have e-cars that can move without making any noise. I often walk and drive on S. Navarra in Scotts Valley – not far from the Sentinel office – and am amazed at how many people don’t seem to know this basic safety rule.
Thanks for your help,
Chris Miller via email
A: Thank you Chris for reading Street Smarts and for the rule of thumb about walking on streets with no sidewalks. Doing so can be tricky and dangerous.
Lt. John Hohmann of the Scotts Valley Police Department said “one of the worst crashes” he ever worked involved a woman walking facing traffic along a blind curve on Glenwood Drive near Canham Road “in the serpentine turns.” A bicyclist had come along and hit her head-on.
“Legally they were both complying with the law,” he said.
However, had the woman been walking on the right side of the road, she would have been able to see around the corner ahead of her.
“Officers have discretion to cite or not cite,” Hohmann said of situations like these. Had he seen someone walking on the right side of a sidewalk-less road during his patrols, “I would not cite someone who technically violated the law as a result of not placing themselves in a dangerous situation,” he said.
According to California Vehicle Code Section 21956, “(a) No pedestrian may walk upon any roadway outside of a business or residence district otherwise than close to his or her left-hand edge of the roadway; and (b) A pedestrian may walk close to his or her right-hand edge of the roadway if a crosswalk or other means of safely crossing the roadway is not available or if existing traffic or other conditions would compromise the safety of a pedestrian attempting to cross the road.
Meanwhile section 21966 provides that “No pedestrian shall proceed along a bicycle path or lane where there is an adjacent adequate pedestrian facility.”
As for your observations about where pedestrians should walk on S. Navarra Drive, “I agree with your reader that if I were walking on S. Navarra Drive, I would definitely be facing traffic to see what is coming ahead,” Hohmann added.