Guide to Laws for Pedestrians in California

Pedestrians include not only those simply walking or jogging (or skipping), but also those on skateboards, scooters, wheelchairs or other human powered vehicles (but bicycles are NOT considered pedestrians).1Cal Veh Code Sec 467

1. Jaywalking

Is it illegal to jaywalk in California?

Beginning January 1, 2023, it is NOT illegal to jaywalk – cross the street outside a crosswalk – IF it is safe to do so. California AB 2147 (2022). This is due to a new law known as the Freedom to Walk Act.

Police officers can cite a jaywalker “only when a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of a collision.”

Prior law: Prior to January 2023, you would NOT get a jaywalking ticket for crossing once the countdown has begun, but you must finish crossing before the countdown ends.

How much is a jaywalking ticket?

Jaywalking can subject you to a fine of up to $197.

2. Right of way

When do pedestrians have the right of way?

As a pedestrian, you have the right of way in California (from CA Vehicle Code):

  • when crossing the street on a marked crosswalk2Sec 21950
  • at any intersection, even if the crosswalk is unmarked 3Sec 21950
  • when walking on the sidewalk where a car wants to cross (for example to get into a parking lot) 4Sec 21952

You do NOT have the right of way when you are on any part of the street other than a crosswalk or intersection. 5Sec 21954

What does the “right of way” mean?

It means you have preference of movement, so that vehicles must yield to you and wait for you to walk before they can do anything.

3. Where you can walk

If I have to walk on the street because there is no sidewalk, does it matter which side of the street I walk on?

Yes. In California, you must only walk on the left-hand side of the street.6CA Veh Code Sec 21956. But may we suggest you take a walk on the wild side?

Can I walk in a bike lane?

No, unless there is no way to avoid it.7Sec 21966

Related Pages

Guide to Laws about Scooters in California

Guide to the Law for Drivers in California

Guide to the Law on Public Spaces, Sidewalks, and Parks

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