To Scoot Over or to Not Scoot Over: Do You Know the Rules of the Road?
To scoot over or to not scoot over. That is the question that I am sure a lot of people think about while driving and they see a runner on the shoulder of a street with no sidewalks. Some, unfortunately, do not feel the need to scoot over a bit, nor slow down. You may also be currently asking yourself, why is Cheyenne throwing such a hissy fit over this? Well. Let me tell you why.
Last night my dog Emmy Lou and I were minding our own business on a run (we may or may not have been in the area of 74th and Englewood, where there is not a sidewalk) while walking up the hill. So as we were walking, I noticed an oncoming car in the distance (yes, I was on the left side of the road), so I tightened up Emmy Lou's leash and I held it right above the claps to ensure a firm grip on her. I scooted as far left as I could before I would fall down the embankment, and what do you think didn't happen next? I'll tell you -- the driver in the oncoming RED SUV did not scoot over not even one inch, and sped by me. However, the car that followed was kind enough to move over about half a lane, giving me enough room to feel comfortable. So I gave this wonderful lady a smile and wave -- so she knew I appreciated it.
This situation ruffled my feathers all night and into the morning so I took to my law-enforcement friends.
Deputy Sheriff Thompson from the Kittitas County Sheriff's Office said that I should look into RCW 46.61.250 (Pedestrians on Roadways), which states:
(1) Where sidewalks are provided it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or otherwise move along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are provided but wheelchair access is not available, disabled persons who require such access may walk or otherwise move along and upon an adjacent roadway until they reach an access point in the sidewalk. (2) Where sidewalks are not provided any pedestrian walking or otherwise moving along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk or move only on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction and upon meeting an oncoming vehicle shall move clear of the roadway.
In layman's terms, this RCW is saying that pedestrians must yield to oncoming traffic, HOWEVER! RCW 46.61.245 (Driver's Exercise Due Care) states:
Every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
By state law it is both the drivers' and the pedestrians' responsibility to stay safe on a road with no sidewalks. Deputy Sheriff Thompson also advised that I should check with a YPD officer to see if the city of Yakima has any municipal ordinances regarding that situation. So I did -- I reached out to retired Patrolman (and all-around good guy) Steve Davis of YPD, who told me, "Both car and walker have to use unwritten courtesy rules."
Circling back around to the rude car who didn't bother to move over while I was walking on the shoulder, I practiced due care on my part. The SUV driver, however, did not. Because if they had I wouldn't be writing this.
Moral of the story? It is everyone's job to keep walking/joggers/runners/ and bicyclists safe on the roads. Move over when you can, and if you can't, at least slow down.
(In a deep and commanding voice): Slow down and move over -- it's the law.