Ask a Trooper: Do pedestrians have to use the sidewalk?

In 2020, 45 pedestrians died on Minnesota roads.

Sgt. Jesse Grabow

Question: Does a pedestrian have to use the sidewalk or can they walk in the street?

Answer: Pedestrians are required to use a sidewalk if one is available.

When it comes to rural areas where sidewalks might not be as prevalent, pedestrians or those in a wheelchair should walk or move on the left side of the roadway or its shoulder giving way to oncoming traffic.

Pedestrians should:

  • Make it easy for drivers to see you — dress in light colors and wear retro-reflective material.
  • Carry a flashlight when it’s dark.
  • Avoid using cell phones and other distractions, and keep your eyes up and on the road.
  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs as they can impair your ability to walk safely, just like they do for motorists behind the wheel.
  • Use extra caution when crossing multiple-lane, higher-speed streets.
  • If possible, walk with a friend.

Preliminary numbers indicate there were 45 pedestrian deaths on Minnesota roads in 2020, compared with 50 pedestrian deaths in 2019. Pedestrian safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Drivers should:


  • Scan the road and sidewalks ahead for pedestrians. Drive attentively and at safe speeds. Remember, pedestrians can be difficult to see, especially in bad weather or at night.
  • Anticipate pedestrians especially in urban areas, around schools and colleges.
  • Before making a turn, look in all directions for pedestrians.
  • Look carefully behind your vehicle before backing up, especially for small children.
  • Watch for people in wheelchairs and motorized carts, who may be below eye level.
  • Stop for crossing pedestrians at every intersection, even those without crosswalks or stoplights. Stop far enough back so drivers in other lanes can also see the pedestrian in time to stop.
  • Do not block crosswalks while stopped, and don’t pass other vehicles stopped for pedestrians.

Let’s all work together by driving and walking smart to save lives on Minnesota roads.
Send questions concerning traffic-related laws or issues in Minnesota to: Trp. Jesse Grabow – Minnesota State Patrol , 1000 Highway 10 W., Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Follow him on Twitter @MSPPIO_NW or reach him at

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