Q I would like to see a column every six weeks dedicated to us pedestrians. We have to walk among cars, etc. I haven't had a vehicle since 1987 and enjoy walking and taking transit.

John Walker

San Jose

A Many do, and today is the first of two columns devoted to pedestrians. And here is the No. 1 question I field about rules of the road for pedestrians and motorists.

Q I've been reading your column in the Oakland Tribune, and it occurred to me that you might have the answer to an issue that I've debated with friends: Where a road is divided, whether by a planted island or just a concrete strip, and a pedestrian steps out into the crosswalk, are drivers on the far side of the strip required to stop until the pedestrian gets all the way across the street? Or does their obligation to provide right of way start once the pedestrian gets to the strip and starts to cross on their own side of it? I don't recall any mention of this in a driver's manual.

Gail Weininger

Alameda

A And ...

Q My sisters and I have not been able to figure out the rules for stopping at a crosswalk that covers multiple lanes of two-way traffic. If I have a green light and I'm trying to make a left turn onto a four-lane, two-way road, do I have to wait for pedestrians to clear all four lanes before I can complete my turn? It seems silly to have to wait for someone to walk across four lanes if I want to turn into the lane farthest from them.

Diana Tashjian

A Anyone else? Silly question.

Q My sister was driving in a way that annoyed me. We had a green light and were making a right turn when a pedestrian across the street of a four-lane road stepped into the crosswalk. It would be five or six seconds before he would be in the lane we were turning into and we could make the turn and be on our way long before he got close, but my sister would wait until he was all the way across the street before making the turn, saying that she would not want to violate the right of way of the pedestrian.

If she made the turn while any pedestrian was in the crosswalk, no matter where, she might get a ticket, she said. My driving habits have always been to give them the right of way and not interfere with their crossing, but if you could turn right and not impede their crossing, then it was OK to make that turn. Who is right?

Pete Antoniak

San Bruno

A The California Vehicle Code doesn't expressly address the question of whether a motorist on a very wide street must wait until a pedestrian is all the way across before starting, or whether a driver needs to wait if a pedestrian steps into a crosswalk on the other side of the road. But police and safety advocates almost all agree that if a pedestrian is on the far side of the crosswalk, then a driver can proceed if it's safe to do so.

Added Liz-the-Cop: "You do not have to wait for the pedestrian to finish crossing all of the lanes before you drive on. Once the pedestrian is safely and completely past your car and there is no danger of you hitting them or scaring the heck out of them, you may drive through the crosswalk and continue on your way."

However, some officials view this differently. I spoke to a group at a Cupertino middle school recently and the woman heading up their traffic safety group was ticketed for not waiting for a pedestrian to finish crossing all lanes. And I've heard from parents whose teens flunked their driving test because they did not wait until a pedestrian crossed all lanes of traffic.

Go to www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/hdbk/right_of_way.htm for the rules on this.

Q Gary, what is your advice on when a motorist should stop for a pedestrian who may be several lanes away? What do you do?

Wendy Dillon

Concord

A Here is Roadshow's advice:

On a road with one lane in each direction, I wait for all pedestrians.

On a street with two lanes each way, I usually wait for all pedestrians.

On a street with three or more lanes each way and I see a pedestrian anywhere near the middle of that intersection, I yield because I fear the driver behind me might not see the person crossing the street, may think they can beat the pedestrian or are not aware that other pedestrians are coming. A few seconds of waiting is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of the person on foot.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335. The fax number is 408-288-8060.