What is a Crosswalk? Easy Guide to Marked & Unmarked [2023]

what is a crosswalk

What is a Crosswalk Exactly?

I sometimes ask this question “What is a crosswalk? Are you sure you know?” It seems there is a bit of confusion around this subject so I’m hoping to make some sense today.

What Is A Crosswalk?

Marked Crosswalks at Intersections

what is a crosswalk

I am sure we can all agree that this here is a crosswalk. But this is just one type of crosswalk. This is a marked crosswalk at an intersection (check out my complete guide to intersections to learn more about them in general). As in, it’s literally marked. Omg, I used the word literally the right way. This is pretty obvious and I think most people get that vehicles are legally required to stop for pedestrians here. How many crosswalks are in this picture, though? 

Marked Crosswalks Not at Intersections

In my experience, these are less common, but they do exist; in a crosswalk not at an intersection. I.E. a Crosswalk located in the middle of a block or in the middle of a long stretch of road that does not have an intersection. Again, I think these are obvious places where drivers usually know that they are required to stop for pedestrians as long as it is safe to do so.

marked crosswalk not intersection

Marked Crosswalk in a Lane (Back Alley)

Somewhere in Coquitlam…

marked crosswalk in a back alley
marked crosswalk british columbia
crosswalk with path
crosswalk with walking path
crosswalk sign
What is a Crosswalk? Easy Guide to Marked & Unmarked [2023]

What is a crosswalk? Unmarked Crosswalks at Intersections

This is where some drivers seem to be confused. According to the definition above, basically, any intersection is an unmarked crosswalk where drivers are required to yield the right-of-way. There are a few exceptions of course. One example is intersections where a sign prohibits pedestrians from crossing.

Did you know there are 4 unmarked crosswalks in this picture? There are no markings, but drivers are still required to yield to pedestrians here.

unmarked crosswalk

When stopping for pedestrians here, try to stop with advanced notice to the traffic behind you and around you so that others can tell what you’re doing. These can be dangerous as some drivers can’t see the pedestrians and assume you’re turning without a turn signal, and then try to go around you.

This of course is setting up the pedestrian for a bad day. Be aware of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to honk to alert others if need be. Check out my epic guide to Hazards While Driving to learn more about hazard preparations.

Avoid Blocking Intersections

When you stop at these intersections try to avoid stopping in the middle of the intersection.

stop for pedestrians

Crosswalk Warnings

These X’s on the pavement indicate there is a crossing soon. Usually a pedestrian crosswalk, but could also be some other type of crossing, like one that refers to a train perhaps.

Crosswalk X on pavement

Yellow Signs

Remember that the colors of signs mean different things. Yellow signs warn us of upcoming hazards, etc. This is a warning telling you that there is a crosswalk coming soon:

crosswalk soon sign

White and Black Signs

White and black signs are regulatory signs, meaning if we disobey then we are technically breaking the law. These signs mean there is a crosswalk right here, right now.

pedestrian crosswalk


Jaywalkers should yield to vehicles. Jaywalking is when a person is walking across the road mid-block at a place other than a marked crosswalk.

This cat is totally jaywalking:

avoid jaywalking

BC Motor Vehicle Act

Rights of way between vehicle and pedestrian

179  (1) Subject to section 180, the driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to a pedestrian where traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation when the pedestrian is crossing the highway in a crosswalk and the pedestrian is on the half of the highway on which the vehicle is travelling, or is approaching so closely from the other half of the highway that he or she is in danger.

(2) A pedestrian must not leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle that is so close it is impracticable for the driver to yield the right of way.

(3) If a vehicle is slowing down or stopped at a crosswalk or at an intersection to permit a pedestrian to cross the highway, the driver of a vehicle approaching from the rear must not overtake and pass the vehicle that is slowing down or stopped.

Crossing at other than a crosswalk

180  When a pedestrian is crossing a highway at a point not in a crosswalk, the pedestrian must yield the right of way to a vehicle.

Duty of driver

181  Despite sections 178, 179 and 180, a driver of a vehicle must

(a) exercise due care to avoid colliding with a pedestrian who is on the highway,

(b) give warning by sounding the horn of the vehicle when necessary, and

(c) observe proper precaution on observing a child or apparently confused or incapacitated person on the highway.

Preparing for your ICBC road test? Be sure to check out my epic article: ICBC Road Test Tips For Classes 5 & 7 [Instructor Gets Deep].