Crosswalks are marked or painted street crossings where an engineering study has determined it is safe to cross. The Traffic, Parking and Transportation Department now maintains 2,016 crosswalks throughout the city.
There are two kinds of crosswalks: controlled and uncontrolled.
Crosswalks within an intersection controlled by a traffic signal are called "controlled crosswalks." To learn more about controlled crosswalks, please click here.
Most of our crosswalks are uncontrolled. The law requires all vehicles and bicycles to stop for any pedestrian in an uncontrolled crosswalk. You can read the full text of the crosswalk law here.
Despite the law, it is important to take steps to protect yourself at uncontrolled crosswalks. For the safest experience:
- Stand at the bottom of the wheelchair ramp and face on-coming traffic to make it clear that you intend to cross
- Try to make eye contact with the driver or cyclist.
- When it is clear that the driver and/or the cyclist sees you, understands that you intend to cross, and it slowing down, take a step into the crosswalk.
- On a two-way street, check that vehicles have also stopped in the opposite direction before finishing your crossing. Remember to look for bikes approaching from the other direction as well, which may be difficult to see behind a stopped car.
- On a street with two lanes going in the same direction, be absolutely sure that vehicles in both lanes have stopped. A vehicle in the lane closer to you often blocks your view of on-coming vehicles in the other lane.
All Cambridge crosswalks are inspected annually. Crosswalks that have faded, have been damaged by utility cuts, or removed due to repaving, will be repaired or replaced as part of our pavement marking program. To learn more about the pavement marking program, please click here.
Can You Add a New Crosswalk?
In some cases, we can. First, our engineers will conduct a study to determine if the location is safe for a pedestrian crossing. The location may not be safe if either end of the proposed crosswalk lack sufficient visibility from the travel lanes. Common visual obstructions include buildings, hills, curves and vegetation.
Next, we would contact the Department of Public Works regarding the construction of new wheelchair ramps. Crosswalks are more than just white paint. In order to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every new crosswalk must include accessible ramps at both ends. These ramps must be designed and constructed before TP&T can add the new crosswalk paint.
Crosswalks, along with any new markings, are added as part of our pavement marking program. To learn more about the pavement marking program, please click here.
If you have any questions about crosswalks, please click here.