Motorists are required by law to stop for a pedestrian waiting at a pedestrian crossing only if he indicates his intention to cross by giving a clear hand-signal or placing one foot on the crossing. It’s never safe to assume that you have the right of way as a pedestrian crossing in Spain, particularly in cities, where motorists are very reluctant to stop.
At a pedestrian crossing with pedestrian lights, pedestrians are supposed to wait for a green light (or green man) before crossing the road (sometimes they must press a button), irrespective of whether there’s any traffic. The green light may be accompanied by an audible signal, which may be a few short bleeps just before the light changes to red.
A blinking green light means don’t cross unless you’re already on the crossing (note that the light for motorists may change to green when you’re half way across the road even when you started to cross on a green light, so always look out for traffic). You can be fined for crossing the road at the wrong place or ignoring pedestrian lights and crossings.
Usually, pedestrians must share footpaths with bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, assorted animals and the occasional moped and at the same time keep an eye out for broken paving stones and open manholes and drains.
Paving stones and tiles can be slippery when wet, and in country areas many roads have loose gravel and stones on which it’s easy to lose your footing. Many towns and cities have pedestrian streets ( zona peatonal) barred to traffic and some have roads barred to pedestrians (shown by a sign).
Pedestrians must use footpaths where provided or may use a bicycle path when there’s no footpath. Footpaths are generally rare outside towns, although there may be a narrow ‘hard shoulder’. Where there’s no footpath or bicycle path, you should usually walk on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic.
However, on narrow country roads it’s advisable to walk on the side of the road which affords the best view of oncoming traffic, as many roads have blind corners and drivers often drive close to the edge of the road at high speed.
This article is an extract from Living and Working in Spain.
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