An Intersection Database Enhances Blind Pedestrians’ Access to Complex Signalized Intersections: Stage 2 Analysis & Database Development

A growing number of U.S. intersections and crosswalks pose significant barriers to pedestrian travel for individuals who are blind. Although a blind individual may be able to use public transit options such as buses, subways, and light rail, these services are not very useful if his or her continued travel is effectively blocked by inaccessible intersections. As intersection design has evolved, transportation professionals have unintentionally created significant barriers to blind and low vision pedestrians' access to the information they need to safely and efficiently cross streets. This project builds on an earlier research and development (R&D) project in which the team conceptualized and developed an “intersection database” that makes detailed information about individual intersections and crosswalks available to blind pedestrians. The database is designed to provide general intersection descriptions as well as specific crosswalk descriptions (from each end of a crosswalk). The database was purposely not designed to be device specific, and is applicable to many contemporary approaches to nonvisual information delivery. Objective 1 of the 1-year project involves conducting and reporting a detailed analysis of archival data about the effectiveness of the intersection database for improving the safety and efficiency of nonvisual street crossing at complex, signalized intersections. Objective 2 involves enhancing the intersection database to accommodate a broader range of intersections and intersection characteristics. Objective 3 involves conducting a pilot study of the enhanced database. For Objective 1, the team will conduct and report safety and efficiency analyses of archival data collected with 20 blind pedestrians at 6 crosswalks in Portland, Oregon. The principal statistical analyses will compare safety and efficiency data from the “database” and “no database” conditions at each of the 6 crosswalks. For Objective 2, the team will expand the capabilities of the database by applying it to complex signalized intersections in Kalamazoo, Michigan as well as incorporating features of other intersection configurations known to the team but not able to be tested in Kalamazoo. For Objective 3, the team will conduct a pilot study of the enhanced database in Kalamazoo. The content of the database comprises information known to be important to the safety and efficiency of nonvisual street-crossing, as well as known to be frequently unavailable to blind pedestrians. Through iterations and evaluations of the database at intersections with different characteristics, the more general applicability of the intersection database can be determined, as well as how it can be enhanced by adding or removing entire fields of information and/or by modifying the language used to convey the information. The project team believes that the continued development and dissemination of the broadly applicable intersection-database approach is likely to inspire others to adopt the same approach, particularly other researchers and product developers. The proposed project directly addresses two Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities (TRCLC) themes; namely, Theme 4: Behavioral and cultural research that address all users of the transportation system, including drivers, bicyclists, pedestrian, elderly, and people with disabilities; and Theme 1: Integrating public transit systems with the different modes of transportation (walking, bicycling, and cars).


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $78794
  • Contract Numbers:

    DTRT13-G-UTC60 TRC-1701

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology

    University Transportation Centers Program
    Department of Transportation
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Managing Organizations:

    Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities

    Western Michigan University
    Kalamazoo, MI  United States  49009-5316
  • Project Managers:

    Dunn, Denise

  • Performing Organizations:

    Western Michigan University

    1903 W. Michigan Avenue
    Kalamazoo, MI  United States  49008-5241
  • Principal Investigators:

    Kim, Dae

    Guth, David

    Ponchillia, Paul

    Barlow, Janet

    Rodegerdts, Lee

  • Start Date: 20170815
  • Expected Completion Date: 20180831
  • Actual Completion Date: 20180831
  • USDOT Program: University Transportation Centers
  • Subprogram: Research

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01646002
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Center for Livable Communities
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC60 TRC-1701
  • Files: UTC, RiP
  • Created Date: Sep 14 2017 1:18PM