Marked Sidewalks

What are the official guidelines?

The City of Huntington Beach follows State policies and the California Vehicle Code (CVC). The Code requires us to follow the national guidelines outlined in the State Traffic Engineering Manual. Traffic control devices include signal lights, traffic signs, and paint markings. The State Manual covers all aspects of the placement, construction and maintenance of every form of approved traffic control. The guidelines prescribe five basic requirements for all devices. They must:

The State Manual emphasizes "uniformity" of traffic control devices. A uniform device conforms to regulations for dimensions, color, wording and graphics. The standard device should convey the same meaning at all times. If you're a licensed driver, you may recall questions about traffic sign colors and sizes on your license examination. Consistent use of traffic control devices protects the clarity of their messages. As stated in the State Manual, "uniformity" must also mean treating similar situations in the same way.

What is a crosswalk?

Crosswalks are either "marked" or "unmarked". The California Vehicle Code defines a "crosswalk" as the portion of a roadway at an intersection, which is an extension of the curb and property lines of the intersecting street or is any other portion of a roadway that is marked as a pedestrian crossing location by painted lines.

A "marked crosswalk" is any crosswalk, which is delineated by white or yellow painted markings placed on the pavement. All other crosswalk locations are therefore "unmarked".

How are crosswalks used?

At any crosswalk (marked or unmarked) drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians (CVC Section 21950). Crosswalks are marked mainly to encourage pedestrians to use a particular crossing.

Studies conducted on the relative safety of crosswalks support minimal installation of marked crosswalks.

The City of San Diego studied intersections at which there were both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The results were surprising. Although 2 1/2 times as many people used the marked crosswalks, 6 times as many accidents occurred in the marked crosswalks. A pedestrian safety study in Long Beach, reported 8 times as many accidents in marked crosswalks compared to unmarked crosswalks. Similar studies in other cities have confirmed their results.

Such research suggests that a marked crosswalk can give pedestrians a false sense of security. At all crosswalks, both unmarked and marked, it is the pedestrians' responsibility to be cautious and alert while crossing (see CVC Section 21950).

Where are crosswalks normally marked?

Crosswalks are marked at intersections where there is substantial conflict between vehicle and pedestrian movements, where significant pedestrian concentrations occur, where pedestrians could not recognize the proper place to cross, and where traffic movements are controlled. Examples of such locations are:

These examples follow the philosophy of marking crosswalks as a form of encouragement. In the first case, we are encouraging school children to use a crossing, which is normally being monitored. In the second case, we are encouraging all pedestrians to avoid a prohibited crossing. It is the City's policy not to paint crosswalks at mid block locations where traffic is not controlled by stop signs or traffic signals. Crosswalks in these locations are not expected by motorists and thus create an element of surprise for the driver. This element of surprise leads to pedestrian - vehicle accidents. Painted crosswalks should only be used where necessary to direct pedestrians along the safest route.

What are special school crosswalks?

When a marked crosswalk has been established adjacent to a school building or school grounds, it shall be painted yellow if either the nearest point of the crosswalk is not more than 600 feet from a school building or grounds.

Crosswalks should be marked at all intersections on the "safe route to school", which you can obtain from your local school. They should also be marked where there is high conflict between vehicles and students (while crossing), where students are permitted to cross between intersections, or where students could not otherwise cross.

The best safety measure for school ate children is to educate them on how and where to safely cross the street. The "safe route to school" map for your area is the best way to show your children the safest way to and from school.

If you have questions, requests or suggestions concerning traffic, please call the Traffic Engineering Division at (714) 536-5487.

Did you know?

Planning Commission meetings are held on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of each month. Meeting Agendas, Action Agendas, and Minutes are available to view online.


Contact Information

City of Huntington Beach
Public Works Department
2000 Main Street
Huntington Beach, CA
Phone: (714) 536-5431
Fax: (714) 374-1573
Email:  
Staff Directory

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