Midblock Pedestrian Signal (MPS) Warrants and Operation

The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) Signals Technical Committee (STC) has reviewed treatments for several types of midblock pedestrian crosswalks that include highway traffic signals or beacons and has developed research recommendations for a new Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) chapter in Part 4, titled "Midblock Pedestrian Signals" or MPS. The MPS would operate similarly to a standard vehicular traffic control signal at a midblock crossing, except that it would (1) use the same pedestrian crossing volume guidelines as are used for the HAWK Signal/Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) and (2) display a flashing RED indication in place of a solid RED indication during the pedestrian clearance interval. The MPS supports the concept of “complete streets,” a transportation policy and design approach that calls for roadways to be consistently designed and operated with all users in mind: bicyclists, public transportation users, drivers, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. In today’s world of longer-spaced blocks and wide, high-speed suburban arterials, pedestrians frequently find themselves in a predicament when needing to cross these roads to access transit stops, medical facilities, businesses, and residences. With no easily accessible signalized crossing, they are forced to chance a crossing with no guarantee of safety or visibility from other roadway users. Moreover, increases in lower-density “sprawl-like” development mean that these crossings rarely happen in such a concentrated manner as to justify a midblock signal based on conventional signal volume warrants described in MUTCD, Chapter 4C. The proposed MPS is intended to further expand the available options to improve safety at midblock crossings, while reflecting modern pedestrian crossing needs and roadway contexts. The MPS concept has been used for more than 40 years in several cities, including Los Angeles, to protect pedestrian crossings, and previous FHWA studies have reported this type of operation to have a very high driver compliance. The MPS will also reduce delays experienced with the traditional MUTCD-approved solid RED indication, by incorporating a flashing RED interval, like the PHB. The requirement of a solid RED indication at midblock signals has generally been one of the limiting factors for their use, since this can result in excessive delays to motorists if the crossing is not being actively used by a pedestrian. The new concept will allow a motorist to proceed after yielding on a flashing solid RED indication and will reduce excessive delays. Such an operation has been in use in various cities, especially Los Angeles, since 1975. Full pedestrian traffic control signals are often considered to remedy pedestrian safety crossing issues. If a full pedestrian traffic control signal is not justified or warrants are not being met, agencies require additional traffic control tools, such as PHBs or the proposed MPS, to improve pedestrian safety while maintaining efficient traffic operations. Many agencies have successfully used the HAWK Signal or PHB; however, some agencies have expressed a desire to use a device that looks more like a conventional traffic control signal with standard three-section RED-YELLOW-GREEN signal faces that rest in a green indication. Accordingly, the MPS is proposed as an additional traffic control device for non-intersection crosswalks. The MPS operates very similar to a traffic control signal at a midblock location, with the exception that it displays a flashing RED, instead of a steady RED, during the pedestrian clearance time. As with the PHB, the flashing RED reduces unnecessary delay. The objectives of this research are to (1) document the benefits of the Midblock Pedestrian Signal (MPS) and develop language for a new section of the MUTCD (including definitions for the MPS, warrants, and operations guidance, including at driveways and minor side streets). The work will provide a comprehensive review of MPS locations and procedures for their use to reduce pedestrian crashes at midblock crossings. This project is the natural extension of the work in the field of pedestrian traffic control signal systems and would create a reference that would be used by all agencies in the United States through the MUTCD.


  • English


  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $125000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-141

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Project Managers:

    Derr, B

  • Start Date: 20200520
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01739651
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-141
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: May 18 2020 3:05PM