Monday, September 20, 2010

NC and SC Law for Running on the Roads

Last week the Charlotte running community had alot of discussion about running on the roads as a result of a club member who was almost cited by an officer. For future reference, here are the facts for both NC and SC. Thank you to Thomas D. Ricks of Alexander Ricks PLLC for the details.

North Carolina
Section 20‑174. Crossing at other than crosswalks; walking along highway.
(a) Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right‑of‑way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(b) Any pedestrian crossing a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing has been provided shall yield the right‑of‑way to all vehicles upon the roadway.
(c) Between adjacent intersections at which traffic‑control signals are in operation pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk.
(d) Where sidewalks are provided, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway. Where sidewalks are not provided, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall, when practicable, walk only on the extreme left of the roadway or its shoulder facing traffic which may approach from the opposite direction. Such pedestrian shall yield the right‑of‑way to approaching traffic.
(e) Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway, and shall give warning by sounding the horn when necessary, and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway. (1937, c. 407, s. 135; 1973, c. 1330, s. 33.)

South Carolina
Section 56-5-3160. Pedestrians on highways.
(a) Where a sidewalk is provided and its use is practicable, it shall be unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon an adjacent roadway.
(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.
(d) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any pedestrian upon a roadway shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles upon the roadway.


  1. I’ve actually run across this issue as a runner and a lawyer. As you can see, the above statute doesn’t really take runners into account. However, by my reading and apparently by law enforcement (at least on occasion), it means where a sidewalk is present, runners must use it.

    Now, I find this just as irritating as anyone. I live in Dilworth, where sidewalks are constantly changing sides, don’t exist or are even dangerous to run on (not to mention the effects of running on hard-ass concrete).

    Enforcement of this statute is rare, but given the rate of car-runner-cyclist incidents, it is likely to increase. My advice, when asked, has always been that runners should respect drivers just as drivers should respect runners. Now, this isn’t a perfect solution, but we don’t live in a perfect world.

    Respect the Loop is a new initiative with a goal of generating respect among riders, runners, drivers, walkers and all types of users of the Booty Loop. Our aim is to use the Loop as a test kitchen and take what we can learn there and apply it to other places. This will include simple education programs (what is the law? how do I pass a runner/rider?), Loop ambassadors, working with the various DOTs to make roads and sidewalks safer, and maybe even lobbying city and state government to incorporate recreational users into traffic laws.

    If you're interested in getting involved, email me at

  2. This also raises the question of how applicable the laws are DURING a race event. I've actually had police officers (those being paid for safety during an event) request runners to remove themselves from the coned off lanes of the race and run on the sidewalk, even though the lanes are clearly marked and blocked. I know it makes their jobs easier but isn't that why the lane is blocked to begin with...? runners can continue on asphalt? Good post, thanks for sharing.