Safe Routes Scoop

Helping to Tame Multi-Lane Crossings

 

like an easy answer, it is often not enough by itself. Without any other changes, simply lowering the speed limit on a given stretch of road may have little effect on driver compliance. Speed limits, which are set below the speed that most motorists perceive to be reasonable for the given road, should be augmented with additional measures to improve compliance. While there are many things that can be done to help, the following are some design ideas for improving the walking environment.

 

Curb extensions can be a great way to help slow motorists down while shortening crossing distances for pedestrians. Curb extensions narrow the roadway and reduce the crossing distance by extending the sidewalk area into the parking lane. Curb extensions also help to make pedestrians more visible by bringing them out from behind parked cars. This helps both pedestrians and motorists better see each other. Curb extensions can also provide space for curb ramps, help to slow the speed at which vehicles can turn, and prevent motorists from parking on or near a crosswalk.

 

Pedestrian refuge crossing islands also work to help lower speeds and shorten crossing distances. Crossing islands are raised islands located in the middle of a street that narrow the travel lanes at that location and provide an auto free place for pedestrians to stop, mid-crossing. Crossing islands work by reducing

the pedestrian exposure time at a given crossing by breaking the crossing into stages. Crossing islands effectively reduce crossing distance and make crossing easier by allowing pedestrians to focus on one direction of traffic at a time. Crossing islands also make crossing safer and more convenient by providing safe refuge for those who begin crossing too late or who move too slow to cross the entire street in one signal cycle.

 

One of the best ways to reduce the multiple lane threat to pedestrians is to decrease the width of the road and number of lanes that pedestrians must cross through a “road diet.” With a “road diet,” the through lanes for motor vehicle travel are reduced. The center lane can be supplemented by crossing islands with dedicated left turn pockets at some locations. By reducing vehicle travel lanes, often there is enough room to also install bicycle lanes that help to create a sidewalk buffer for pedestrians. Road diets are a great way to create a balanced transportation system by providing benefits for pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, and motorists. While extremely effective, another plus is that they can often be accomplished simply with paint, requiring a relatively small cost and no construction.

 

High visibility crosswalks can help to make crossing pedestrians more visible and to alert motorists to an often used pedestrian crossing.

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