5 Low-Cost Options to Improve Pedestrian Safety
A pedestrian is struck and killed every two hours in the United States, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA).
The responsibility of improving pedestrian safety falls on the shoulders of local governments and transportation officials who must foresee potential problem spots and implement the right safety solutions.
But as budgets tighten and urban populations expand, communities find themselves with limited resources and serious pedestrian safety problems to solve.
Which means some of the proven pedestrian safety improvements - Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacons (RRFBs), LED-Enhanced Signs and Beacons - aren’t always fiscally practical. Leaving local officials searching for solutions that fit within their budget.
Here are five low-cost options cash-strapped communities should consider to improve pedestrian safety:
1. Marked Crosswalks
First and foremost, make sure there are clearly marked crosswalks at uncontrolled crossings before implementing other pedestrian safety enhancements.
If there isn't a clear path for pedestrians to cross the street, jay-walking through oncoming traffic will become the norm and pedestrian safety will inherently decrease.
2. Parking Restrictions
Cars parked too close to intersection crosswalks greatly decrease the visibility for both pedestrians and motorists. The Manual on Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires at least 20 feet of space be kept open between crosswalks and designated parking areas, however additional space in encouraged to improve pedestrian and driver sight distance.
Eliminating street parking may cause community push back in highly trafficked areas. So if road parking space is at a premium, options 3-5 may be right for you.
3. In-street Signs
Perfect for two-lane, low-speed side streets (school zones!), in-street signs make the crosswalk more noticeable and increase driver yielding. In-street signs should be installed in the crosswalk or on a median without altering the pedestrians intended path of travel.
The most common types of in-street signs that improve pedestrian safety are "Stop For" and "Yield To" signs. Both can be permanently installed in the street or mounted on a portable base to allow them to be moved as needed.
4. Advance Stop or Yield Lines
Advance stop or yield lines are a simple yet effective way to increase both pedestrian and motorist visibility to avoid multiple-threat collisions, where the pedestrian and oncoming vehicle are blinded by the stopped vehicle at the crosswalk. When installing advance stop or yield lines be sure to place proper signage at the new marking.
5. High-Visibility Safety Apparel
Equipping crossing guards and police officers with proper high-visibility safety apparel as they assist pedestrians crossing dangerous intersections heightens visibility and alerts motorists of pedestrians in the crosswalk.