Last Updated on July 28, 2021 by Lawrence Berezin
How do you recognize an unmarked crosswalk in NYC?
Unmarked crosswalk conundrums. I remember arguing a case in municipal court many years ago and losing big time. The judge issued his decision from the bench and found my client guilty; despite the fact, no facts connected the defendant to the crime. Certainly, there was only circumstantial evidence. The judge waxed philosophically, stating (and I’m paraphrasing):
“If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it’s a duck.”
Wow! I lost my case because of a duck. I
In short, how does an unmarked crosswalk “quack?”
The definition of an unmarked crosswalk
The NYC Highway and Traffic Rules, 4-01 Definitions state:
“Unmarked crosswalk. That part of a roadway, other than a marked crosswalk, which is included within the extensions of the sidewalk lines between opposite sides of the roadway at an intersection, provided that (A) the roadway crosses through the intersection rather than ending at the intersection, and/or (B) all traffic on the opposing roadway is controlled by a traffic control device.”
Clear as mud, right!
Meanwhile, let’s look at the definitions in other jurisdictions to shed some light on the crosswalk mystery. For example, the California Vehicle Code section 275 provides:
“Crosswalk” is either:
(a) That portion of a roadway included within the prolongation or connection of the boundary lines of sidewalks at intersections where the intersecting roadways meet at approximately right angles, except the prolongation of such lines from an alley across a street.
(b) Any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.”
How does a crosswalk quack in Minnesota?
According to Minnesota Statute 169.011:
“Crosswalk” means (1) that portion of a roadway ordinarily included with the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at intersections; (2) any portion of a roadway distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface.”
Here’s a California engineer’s take on unmarked crosswalks
“…As we move to CVC §275(a), the concept of the unmarked crosswalk is found. This concept begins with the premise that the location of an unmarked crosswalk must be at an intersection. There cannot be an unmarked mid-block crosswalk. Further, the unmarked crosswalk is defined by the prolongation or connection of sidewalk areas. Consequently, there cannot be an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection between roadways without sidewalks. Next, the intersecting roadways must meet at approximately right angles and cannot include an alley (see CVC §110 for the definition of an alley). Lastly, signs can be posted, which eliminate an unmarked crosswalk where there otherwise would have been one.” [ “Jaywalking and the Elusive Unmarked Crosswalk” By Matthew Manjarrez, PE].
“Splitting Hairs on Crosswalks”
For example, Reuben Collins tosses his invisible hat into the ring and writes in “Streets Mn”:
“We know there is an unmarked crosswalk across the west leg of the intersection because we can identify the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of the trail (please set aside the question of whether a trial is a sidewalk or a sidewalk is a trail – we will not split that hair today). As I mentioned earlier, the cul-de-sac has no sidewalks. And this being a T-intersection, there are no east/west running sidewalks east of the county roadway. There are no lateral lines of sidewalks to connect across the county roadway, thus no unmarked crosswalk.
Of course, I’m no lawyer. If others can interpret this statute differently, I’d love to hear about it in the comments (can anyone provide a legal definition of ‘ordinarily’?).”
Meanwhile, this brings us back to doe…
In my humble opinion:
A: The dotted green lines designate an official unmarked crosswalk because it is:
- The portion of the roadway
- Between the extensions of the sidewalk lines
- Between opposite sides of the roadway
- At an intersection
- The unmarked crosswalk is not at a T intersection, and/or
- Traffic on the opposing roadway is not controlled by a traffic control device
B: Major roadway- is not an unmarked crosswalk because the connecting roadways form a “T” intersection. Any traffic control devices do not regulate the traffic on the larger highway type of roadway. However, a duck-type official unmarked crosswalk extends between the two corners of the minor roadway, even though there is no paved sidewalk. Under NYC rule, a sidewalk is a duck regardless of whether or not it is paved:
A “sidewalk” shall mean that portion of a street, whether paved or unpaved, between the curb lines or the lateral lines of a roadway and the adjacent property lines intended for the use of pedestrians. Where it is not clear which section is intended for the use of pedestrians, the sidewalk will be deemed to be that portion of the street between the building line and the curb [See, NYC Highway and Traffic Rules, 4-01 Definitions].
C: Same answer as “B.”
D: The dotted green lines represent official unmarked crosswalks
Wowzers. Can you stop your car in an invisible, unmarked, NYC crosswalk?