If you are interested in hitchhiking in BC start by understanding the rules of the road. While hitchhiking is not illegal, there are several instances where you could be arrested for the practice. To help you avoid legal issues as a BC hitchhiker we have created a helpful guide outlining the basic practices for requesting a roadside ride.
How to Hitchhike Legally in BC
When you hitchhike in BC start by considering where you will ask for a ride. If you stand in the roadway you cannot legally hitchhike. What exactly is a roadway? According to DriveSmart BC the roadway is defined as a portion of the road designed for traffic. In other words, if a vehicle can go there, a hitchhiker cannot. So how do you hitch a ride in this instance?
Stand on the shoulder of a road if you want to solicit a ride from someone. The shoulder of a road is the grassy or concrete curb that is restricted from vehicle operation. The reason for this is to avoid pedestrians getting struck by passing vehicles. After all, just because you are hitchhiking doesn’t mean that passing drivers will notice you. To protect your safety and to avoid legal trouble, stick to the curb when hitchhiking in BC.
As with all rules, there is one exception:
- You cannot stand on the shoulder of a freeway or Schedule One highway and solicit a ride. Being on the side of a freeway while outside of your vehicle is both dangerous and illegal.
Again, there is an exception to this rule, too:
- The only time you can stand on the side of a freeway is when your vehicle is out of commission and you need emergency assistance.
BC Laws Related to Hitchhiking
To make matters a bit more confusing there are several laws that relate to hitchhiking in BC:
- Motor Vehicle Act
- Safe Streets Act
Motor Vehicle Act in BC
The Motor Vehicle Act stipulates more rules about pedestrians and vehicle operations in BC. It covers every aspect from crossing at pedestrian controlled signals to getting fines for speeding. If you are considering hitchhiking in BC you want to pay special attention to the section about pedestrians walking along a highway.
The law states you must use a sidewalk if available and walk facing traffic. If there is no sidewalk you need to walk along the extreme left of the shoulder. Additionally, the law specifically states you cannot solicit a ride on a roadway except in an emergency situation.
Safe Streets Act in BC
The Safe Streets Act focuses more on the solicitation aspect of hitchhiking in BC. If you are within five meters of a commercial passenger vehicle marker, public toilet, pay phone, or ATM, then you cannot be charged with soliciting a ride.
At the same time, if you are soliciting someone to give you a ride, and they are parked or standing in the roadway, then you both can be arrested. So make sure you understand the Safe Streets Act before you begin hitchhiking in BC to protect yourself legally and in regard to personal safety.