Tuesday, March 20, 2012

But is it Jaywalking?

Yesterday, Shira and I were jogging through Pentagon City, and were crossing a large intersection. We had the light, but hadn't hit the walk button so Don't Walk was lit up in red. As we ran across the street, a motor cycle cop stopped and waited for us. I thought that was nice that he yielded to us. As we ran by, I expected a friendly "good afternoon!" but instead he said something like: "the sign says Don't Walk." At first my brain didn't register what he was saying, and then parsed it: he was suggesting we shouldn't be crossing the intersection because the pedestrian light said we couldn't.

This got me wondering, was what we were doing technically illegal? Was crossing with the light, but without a Walk Sign, jaywalking?

Like most things law related, it's hard to say. But I did find Code of Virginia: § 46.2-925. Pedestrian control signals. . Which says:

Whenever pedestrian control signals exhibiting the words, numbers, or symbols meaning "Walk" or "Don't Walk" are in place such signals shall indicate and apply to pedestrians as follows:

Walk. - Pedestrians facing such signal may proceed across the highway in the direction of the signal and shall be given the right-of-way by the drivers of all vehicles.

Don't Walk. - No pedestrian shall start to cross the highway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed his crossing on the Walk signal shall proceed to a sidewalk or safety island and remain there while the Don't Walk signal is showing.

In other words, the Don't Walk sign isn't there just for a convenience - it does appears as though ignoring it is breaking the law. If there's no walk signs around, it does appear that cars have to yield to pedestrians in almost all cases.

So there you have it, your law lesson for the day. Stay safe and don't forget to hit the walk button.

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