Ask a Trooper: Pedestrian safety is a two-way street

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, March 18, 2015

By Sgt. Troy Christianson

Ask a Trooper

Minnesota State Patrol

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Question: What is the law regarding motorists moving over when meeting a person walking on the roadway? I often walk my dog on the side of the road (but not in the gravel shoulder or grass.) I walk against traffic so the vehicle I’m meeting is very close to me and rarely moves over when the other lane is open and rarely slows down, even to the point of spitting rocks at us. Am I right, are motorists legally supposedly to move over if they can do so safely and slow down? Or am I supposed to quickly get on the shoulder out of fear that they could hit us? Or is it not the law in Minnesota and just myself and some others do it for walkers and bike riders as a courtesy?

Sgt. Troy Christianson Ask a Trooper Minnesota State Patrol

Sgt. Troy Christianson
Ask a Trooper
Minnesota State Patrol

Answer: Pedestrian safety is a two-way street. Each year in Minnesota, approximately 35 pedestrians and 6 bicyclists are killed as a result of collisions with motor vehicles. Fifteen percent of those pedestrians killed were not using or crossing the roadway properly.

Minnesota law states: “Pedestrians when walking or moving in a wheelchair along a roadway shall, when practicable, walk or move on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder giving way to oncoming traffic. Where sidewalks are provided and are accessible and usable it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk or move in a wheelchair along and upon an adjacent roadway.”

“Sharing the Road” is covered extensively in the Minnesota driver’s manual. As a reminder, pedestrian traffic walks facing the direction of oncoming traffic, while bicycles must ride in the same direction as traffic. If you must walk near oncoming traffic, step onto the shoulder and move over as far as possible. With that said, I would also encourage motorists to be courteous by giving pedestrians room and slowing down when possible.

Each of us, whether motorist or pedestrian, must pay attention and be alert in order to reduce traffic-related fatalities on our roadways.

If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at, Twitter: MSPPIO_SOUTH