Step by Step: Walking Safely on Long Island

January is a time for new beginnings. Whether you’ve resolved to improve your mental or physical health this year, walking will always help you reach your health goals. This is the perfect time to start a walking routine— January is Walk Your Dog Month. Don’t have a dog? Celebrate Take a Walk Outdoors Day on January 20 instead.


There are endless reasons to get out there and walk. Before you head out to get your steps in, check out these tips for walking safely on Long Island.


Know the Law


There are a number of New York State laws in place that are meant to protect pedestrians. It’s important to know these laws, as they essentially outline your rights as a pedestrian.


Cross Safely


Motorists have the right of way at most locations, except for marked crosswalks. Marked crosswalks indicate a safe place for pedestrians to cross the street, as drivers are required to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk by law. Pedestrians also have the right of way when cars are pulling out of driveways over sidewalks, in parking lots, and some other locations that are not considered marked roadways. Never cross mid-block or outside of a crosswalk, and always obey pedestrian signals.


Use the Sidewalk


When possible, always use the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk available, pedestrians are required by law to walk against traffic. This allows for pedestrians to make eye contact with drivers, making them more visible and reducing the chance of a pedestrian injury or fatality.


See! Be Seen!


Speaking of visibility, it’s vital to both “See!” and “Be Seen!” as a pedestrian. “See!” by looking left, right, left again, and over your shoulder for turning vehicles before crossing. Pay attention—avoid texting and walking and make sure to watch out for vehicles backing out of parking spaces and driveways.

“Be Seen!” by staying visible after dark and in bad weather with light-colored or reflective clothing. Again, make eye contact with drivers so they see you. Don’t step suddenly in front of traffic—buses and trucks take even longer to stop than other vehicles.


Where You Walk Matters


It’s important to choose a safe place to walk, especially on Long Island where sidewalks and other pedestrian safety enhancements can be few and far between. Find a location where you know there are sidewalks and pedestrian signals. If there are no sidewalks, always walk facing traffic and make eye contact with motorists when possible. Parks and trails are also a safe bet. Browse scenic places to walk on the Long Island Health Collaborative website.

New York State law prohibits pedestrians from walking on highways, access roads, expressways, and interstates. Should you find yourself in a position where you have a flat tire or your vehicle is broken down on a highway, make an effort to get off of that busy roadway as soon as possible.


For More Information


Walk Safe Long Island – Pedestrian Vehicle & Traffic Laws

Long Island Health Collaborative – Walking Opportunities on Long Island

PSA: New York State Laws for Pedestrians featuring Cynthia Brown, Executive Director, NYCTS

New York State Department of Health – Pedestrian Safety: It’s No Accident

New York State Pedestrian Safety Action Plan

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – Pedestrian Safety

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