I have successfully represented too many bicyclists who were initially blamed by police or insurance companies for riding their bicycles in the crosswalk. The law in Arizona is clear – bikes can lawfully ride in the crosswalk (in either direction).
There is no state statute that prohibits a bicycle from riding in the crosswalk. In fact, the Arizona Supreme Court decided this issue long ago in Maxwell v. Gossett, 126 Ariz. 98, 612 P.2d 1061, (1980). In that case, a ten-year-old boy was riding his bicycle in a crosswalk when he was struck by a car turning right at the intersection. The case held that bicycle riders in crosswalks have the same rights as pedestrians.
The other misconception is that a bicyclist is restricted to traveling on the right side of the roadway while in a crosswalk. This is also incorrect. Bikes can ride in either direction in crosswalks, because under Arizona law a crosswalk is not a roadway. “This statute does not apply because it governs the rider of a bike in a ‘roadway,' which is defined as ‘the paved, improved, or proper driving portion of a public highway *101 **1064 designed, or ordinarily used for vehicular travel.' RCW 46.04.500. A crosswalk is not a roadway.” Maxwell v. Gossett, 126 Ariz. 98, 100-01, 612 P.2d 1061, 1063-64 (1980) citing Crawford v. Miller, 18 Wash.App. 151, 152-53, 566 P.2d 1264, 1265-66 (1977) (Emphasis added).
One loophole in Arizona law that needs to be addressed by the legislature is that bicycles are not adequately protected in crosswalks from cars that fail to yield to them. I have seen police rely on a narrow reading of Arizona Revised Statute § 28-792. Right-of-way at crosswalk, which seems to only protect pedestrians from getting hit by cars.
The statute reads:
Except as provided in section 28-793, subsection B, if traffic control signals are not in place or are not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right-of-way, slowing down or stopping if need be in order to yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is on the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger. A pedestrian shall not suddenly leave any curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close that it is impossible for the driver to yield.
Since only pedestrians are specifically mentioned in the statute, bicyles, scooter riders, skateboards, tricycles, wheelchairs, baby carriages and toy wagons are left vulnerable under Arizona law. Arizona law needs to add protections for more than just pedestrians. Once a bicyclist is in a crosswalk, it is practically impossible for a bicyclist to yield to motor vehicles, because a bicyclist cannot anticipate which vehicles may make unsafe turns into a crosswalk. And, even if a bicyclist perceives a threat from a motor vehicle, simply yielding does necessarily stop the bicyclist from getting hit. Bicyclists are typically not able to take evasive action to avoid being run over. In every legal scenario, motor vehicles must yield to the more vulnerable. Cars and trucks are able to yield to bicyclists in crosswalks; not the other way around.