If There Is No Sidewalk, What Should a Pedestrian Do?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle August 18 2022 7:37 pm

If There Is No Sidewalk, What Should a Pedestrian Do?

By Pyle Law, Reviewed by E. THomas Pyle August 18 2022 7:37 pm
If There Is No Sidewalk, What Should a Pedestrian Do?

Kansas law prohibits pedestrians from walking on the road when there’s an adjacent sidewalk available. But when there’s no sidewalk, pedestrians are expected to walk as far as possible from the edge of the roadway.

Navigating areas without sidewalks can pose risks for pedestrians, especially in busy residential or commercial areas. But with the right knowledge and precautions, you can stay safe while walking where there are no designated pedestrian paths.

Pedestrians face exposure to all kinds of harm while walking in urban areas or even more rural locations because they do not have any of the kinds of protection that are inherent to occupants of motor vehicles. The result is that when a pedestrian is involved in any kind of accident, they are inevitably at risk of suffering severe injuries that may be life-threatening.


What Pedestrians Should Do With Sidewalks

Kansas Statute § 8-1465 defines a sidewalk as the portion of a street between either the curb lines or lateral lines of roadways and adjacent property lines intended for use by pedestrians.

Kansas Statute § 8-1537 establishes that when a sidewalk is provided, and its use is practicable, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along an adjacent roadway. If a sidewalk is not available, then a pedestrian walking along a highway must walk only on the shoulder, walking as far as possible from the edge of a roadway.

When neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, a pedestrian walking along and upon a highway must walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, when they are on a two-way roadway, they must walk only on the left side of the roadway. Any pedestrian upon a roadway must always yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Know the Basics—Pedestrian Safety

First, it’s crucial to understand the basics of pedestrian safety. Always walk facing traffic, as this allows you to see oncoming vehicles and react accordingly. If there’s no shoulder or it’s too narrow, walk as close to the edge of the road as possible. 

Wearing bright or reflective clothing, especially at night or in low-light conditions, can also help drivers spot you from a distance.

Avoid distractions while walking, such as using your phone or wearing headphones. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times. If possible, choose routes with lower traffic volumes and better visibility for both pedestrians and drivers.

What Can a Pedestrian Do If There is No Sidewalk? 

Head Up, Phone Down 

Many people own cell phones, and pedestrians are at a high risk of distracted walking accidents.  By using phones while walking along a road, people can lose focus on the surroundings and put their safety on the line.

Pedestrians can minimize the risk of accidents by stopping the use of phones while walking, especially if there is no sidewalk. You could also avoid using headphones while walking to enhance your alertness and awareness of your surroundings.


Walk in Well-Lit Areas

Walking in poorly-lit areas exposes pedestrians to an increased risk of accidents. When it is dark, motorists rely on street lights and headlights to see the road, obstacles, and signs.

Poor visibility makes it much more difficult for drivers to see pedestrians in time to avoid a crash. Pedestrians should, therefore, walk on well-lit streets, ensuring they’re visible to drivers to reduce the risk of accidents.


Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Impairment can affect pedestrian safety, both of drivers and people walking without sidewalks. Here are a few statistics on alcohol-related pedestrian deaths:

  • Alcohol involvement was reported in 49 percent of pedestrian deaths in the U.S.
  • A third of the fatalities involved a drunk pedestrian
  • Two-thirds of fatalities involved a drunk driver
  • Among pedestrians aged 25 to 34 years old who died in car crashes, half were alcohol-impaired

While the law sets a legal limit for driving, alcohol can affect anyone using the roads, including people walking alongside it. If a pedestrian is over the legal limit, behavior changes caused by alcohol can lead to substantial cognitive and physical impairment.

Consequently, people experience decreased reasoning ability, peripheral vision, and depth perception, crucial in safe driving and walking. Ultimately, drunk pedestrians are more likely than sober pedestrians to suffer severe or fatal injuries in a vehicle crash.


Educate Your Kids

If your child walks to school every day, it may be time to give them a refresher on pedestrian safety and what it means for them, especially if they will not have sidewalks the entire way. Teaching a kid about road safety can help them stay safe, increase their alertness, and avoid fatal injuries.

Here are a few important lessons for your kids:

  • Teach your kid to look left, right, and left again before crossing a street. Remind them to continue checking oncoming vehicles until they’re safely across.
  • Teach kids to make eye contact with the driver before crossing a street.
  • Children under ten years should cross a road with an adult. While many kids are gifted differently, most kids are unable to judge the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles until the age of 10.
  • If kids are walking in the dark, encourage them to stay alert and wear visible clothing that signals oncoming vehicles. They may wear light, brightly colored, or reflective gear.
  • Teach kids to avoid running into streets or crossing between parked vehicles.
  • Teach your kids— mostly teenagers— to put their phones, headphones, and other devices away when crossing a street. If they must use their cell phones, teach them to stop walking and find a safe area to use their device.


Safety Tips for Drivers

Drivers are responsible for driving in a way that promotes the safety of passengers. Here are a few safety tips for drivers:

  • Do not drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Look out for pedestrians at all times, even when there are no sidewalks or crosswalks
  • Use extra caution when driving in low visibility conditions, e.g., at night or during bad weather.
  • Do not pass another vehicle at a crosswalk; there may be a crossing pedestrian you can’t see.
  • Slow down and be ready to stop when about to turn or enter a crosswalk
  • Follow prescribed speed limits, especially around pedestrians on the street, near schools, and in neighborhoods with children
  • Give the right-of-way to pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Stay alert by avoiding distracted driving

A lack of a sidewalk does not mean a driver should not watch for pedestrians. If a driver hits someone walking along the shoulder or in a parking lot, they can still be liable for a pedestrian’s serious injuries. Anyone injured should consult a Kansas pedestrian accident attorney. 

Keep Safe Your Kids While They Walk

If you’re walking with children, take extra precautions to ensure their safety and prevent pedestrian accidents. Hold their hands or have them walk in front of you so you can watch them. Teach them to listen for approaching vehicles and stay aware of their surroundings. 

Consider using a stroller or wagon for younger children to prevent them from wandering on the road. Explain the importance of following pedestrian safety rules and set a good example by practicing them yourself. Children learn best by observation, so model the behavior you want them to adopt.

Pedestrian Laws and Regulations in Kansas

In Kansas, the traffic laws provide guidance on pedestrian rights and responsibilities. 

For instance, Section 8-1535 requires drivers to exercise due care to avoid colliding with pedestrians and give warning by sounding their horns when necessary.

According to Section 8-1534, pedestrians must follow the right-of-way to vehicles when crossing outside of a marked crosswalk or an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. And § 8-1532 also says that pedestrians must follow all traffic signals and signs unless a police officer tells them to do something different. 

Additionally, Section 8-1537 prohibits pedestrians from walking on the roadway where a sidewalk is available, and Section 8-1536 requires pedestrians to use crosswalks when available.

Other Kansas Pedestrian Laws

Under Kansas Statute § 8-1509, whenever special pedestrian-control signals exhibit the words walk or don’t walk or the symbols of a walking person or upraised palm, the signals indicating a flashing or steady walk or walking person mean that pedestrians facing these signals can proceed across the roadway in the same direction of the signal and must be given the right-of-way by vehicle drivers.

A flashing or steady don’t walk or upraised palm means that no pedestrian should start to cross a roadway in the direction of such signal, but any pedestrian who has partially completed crossing on a walk or walking person signal can proceed to a sidewalk or safety island while a don’t walk or upraised palm signal is showing.


No sidewalk for a pedestrian what to do

Kansas Statute § 8-1532 states that a pedestrian must obey the instructions of any official traffic-control device specifically applicable to pedestrians – unless otherwise directed by police officers.


Under Kansas Statute § 8-1533, when traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a motor vehicle needs to yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping to yield to any pedestrian crossing a roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway a vehicle is traveling on, or when a pedestrian is approaching so closely from an opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.

No pedestrian can suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a motor vehicle close enough to constitute an immediate hazard. Whenever any motor vehicle is stopped at a marked crosswalk or any unmarked crosswalk at an intersection to allow any pedestrian to cross a roadway, the driver of any other motor vehicle approaching from the rear cannot overtake and pass the stopped vehicle.

Between adjacent intersections where traffic-control signals are operating, pedestrians cannot cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk. No pedestrian is allowed to cross roadway intersections diagonally unless they are authorized to do so by official traffic-control devices, and when they are authorized to cross diagonally, pedestrians must cross only in compliance with the official traffic-control devices pertaining to these crossing movements.


Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Kansas Personal Injury Lawyer

Have you or your loved one suffered any kind of serious injuries in a pedestrian accident in Kansas? Pyle Law can valiantly fight to help you recover all of the financial compensation that you are entitled to.

Our firm knows how to help victims in these cases, and we take great pride in being able to help our clients get some measure of justice for the negligence of motorists. You can call 620-241-9000 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation that will really let us sit down with you and go over everything you are now dealing with, so we can have a better understanding of the seriousness of your case and begin formulating a professional legal strategy.

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Pyle Law was founded in 1999 with a commitment to fewer clients and better service. We believe that each and every client is important and everyone is entitled to justice and equal protection under our laws. We make every case a priority and are committed to keeping each client informed about the status of their case. We do not guarantee results, but we do guarantee effort.


This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by attorney E. Thomas Pyle who has more than 20 years of legal experience as a practicing personal injury trial attorney.