Prioritize pedestrians at your crosswalks, Part 2
Posted in: Highways
Pedestrian travel is becoming more common in urbanized environments, and municipalities are looking for more ways to increase pedestrian safety. In Part 1 of this article series, I discussed how curb extensions and geometric reductions and visual cues can promote pedestrian safety. Today, I have two more tools that will help keep your pedestrians safe while crossing intersections.
Pedestrian head starts
A relatively cost-effective way to provide safety for pedestrians is to give them a chance to start walking before the traffic signal turns green. Adding a 5- to 10-second walking phase while all vehicle lights are red allows additional time for pedestrians to cross the road safely while increasing their visibility to drivers. Adding pedestrian countdown signals can also improve safety by notifying pedestrians of the available time to cross.
Protected left turns
A 2012 New York Department of Transportation presentation reported that left turn deaths outnumber right turn deaths by three to one. Allowing left turning drivers to yield on green puts pedestrians at risk, especially if the turning vehicle is more focused on finding a clearing in the incoming traffic. One solution is to create protected left turn phases, giving left-turn drivers the ability to make a turn with no oncoming traffic. This allows the driver to focus on pedestrian traffic rather than having their attention split.
As more municipalities look to update their multi-use intersections, having multiple solutions to fit a variety of cost and traffic factors is important for engineers and planners. These are just a few intersection improvements that can help your community become a more pedestrian-friendly place.
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