November 7, 2011

Strange Laws

Law makers try their hardest to make confusing sounding laws, or at least it seems that way. For instance, a "sidewalk" is defined as*:

"Sidewalk" means that portion of a street between the curb lines, or the lateral lines of a roadway, and the adjacent property lines, intended for the use of pedestrians. 

I incorrectly interpreted the “portion of a street between the curb lines” to mean the crosswalk but no, it likely means the shoulder. But wait! There is specific mention of where to walk when no sidewalks exist:

(B) Where a sidewalk is not available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk only on a shoulder, as far as practicable from the edge of the roadway.

(C) Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway, and, if on a two-way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.

Why the hell is there all the confusing language in the sidewalk definition? Couldn’t we define “sidewalk” to mean the concrete sidewalks that most people refer to as? Here’s another interesting rule that is Columbus specific (2171.05(d)):

No pedestrian shall cross a roadway at a place other than a crosswalk except in cases where crosswalks are an unreasonable distance apart.

What is unreasonable?

Finally, a rule which has no local equivalent, the prohibition of earbuds/earphones while operating a motor vehicle. Note that this means bicyclists can use earbuds/earphones which is a shocker to me. Another shocker is that safety personnel are exempt from this rule. Couldn’t they wear only one earbud/earphone in order to hear traffic noises?

Overall, it would be a positive thing if the laws be revised to make it more interpretable to laypeople and, when possible, a separate page of notes should be added to detail the intended purposes of the rule. That way, I cannot say that I couldn’t walk 10’ because the crosswalk was an unreasonable distance away.

Next time: Please don’t let the bicycle paths go into disrepair

Cool link of the day: Heads Will Roll!

*Unless otherwise noted, all of my examples are taken from the Ohio Revised Code and has a Columbus municipal code equivalent.


  1. I don't understand why we even need to define sidewalk. I think the rules could just use the term without needing to define it.

  2. I kind of agree with that. "Shoulder" is not defined in the rules so I doubt we would lose much if "sidewalk" was no longer defined.


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