I used to walk everywhere.

In my younger days before I had a driver's license, I literally walked everywhere. I lived right in downtown Portland and didn't really need a car. I lived a 15 minute walk from where I worked, so it just never seemed that important. When my wife and I moved further out of town, it became necessary to get a license.

Man walking dogs down sidewalk

I was 36-years old when I finally started driving. Seems kind of crazy, but that's how long I got away without needing to drive a car. So I feel kind of a special connection to people who either prefer to walk, or do so out of basic need. But as crazy as it seems, there are times when someone walking on foot can actually break the law here in Maine.

Use the sidewalk, dang it!

As much kinship as I feel towards my fellow walkers, I also get super annoyed when I'm driving down a crowded street, and for some reason people occasionally choose to skip the perfectly good sidewalk and and walk right in the road. We've all sworn at these folks. We've all probably even secretly flipped them the bird at some point. Well, believe it or not, the law is on the driver's side... Well, kind of.

This heavy duty truck shows off a sturdy bumper, grill, and headlight.

As Maine law reads, if you're walking down the road and there's a sidewalk, you're lawfully obligated to walk on the sidewalk. Much the same way a car is lawfully obligated to stay on the road. Are you going to get arrested? Probably not. But you'd certainly be giving up a lot of your legal rights, if there were an accident.

Can you ever legally walk on a road?

Absolutely. In Maine, if there's no sidewalk and you must walk down a road that's not posted against pedestrian traffic, you just have to walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. This is the opposite of how you're supposed to ride a bike in the road. A bike goes with traffic, a pedestrian goes against it.

Police Officer Writing Ticket

There are rules for walkers in both directions, so it's good to be familiar with what those are. It's not always about whether you get in trouble with the law or not, sometimes it's just about protecting your legal rights. If you break the rules and are hit by a car, you'd be the one that had to prove it was their fault. Just something to keep in mind, even if it is a little odd...

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