Warrants for a Pedestrian Traffic Control Signal and for Other Pedestrian Traffic Control Devices

Greater uniformity throughout the country with respect to pedestrian crossing treatments can be achieved when criteria are available regarding when to use a class of pedestrian treatments. The different classes of pedestrian treatments can range from no treatment, to pavement crosswalk markings and a sign (side or in-roadway mounted) to yellow flashing devices (e.g., rectangular rapid flashing beacons, border LED warning signs, in-pavement warning lights, etc.) or devices that display red indications (e.g., pedestrian hybrid beacons or traffic control signal). In particular, the current Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) warrants for a pedestrian traffic control signal currently do not permit consideration of additional pedestrians that would likely begin using the crossing if a signal were present. For example, pedestrians may avoid a crossing because they do not feel safe in attempting to cross a road at that location (resulting in using a less direct route or mode, such as car). A warrant that is based primarily on the existing number of crossing pedestrians limits the ability to adequately account for demand that would be expected if a safer crosswalk treatment were present. Given the physical limitations of some pedestrians, such as the very young, very old, or persons with disabilities, should the warrants better address the needs of these groups? Should the pedestrian signal warrant not be based on number of pedestrians but rather on the characteristics of the land uses, such as type and size, represented on either side of the street? Should it incorporate equity considerations of long spaces without safe crossings of large, high-volume, high-speed roadways? There is a growing interest from agencies in having information that guides them in choosing from the increasing variety of pedestrian crossing treatments to have a better understanding of the characteristics of each treatment and how they might be beneficial for a given location. In addition, as more agencies and programs promote walking and walkable communities, the interest (and need) for such guidance is growing. Issues of the standard of care in the logical and prudent progression of pedestrian crossing treatments (rather than a cumulative assembly of all treatments anywhere) is a growing local agency need. Guidance on treatment selection will provide practitioners with the ability to more confidently provide an improvement to a crossing with reduced concern about over-treating or under-treating those crossings or introducing unintended effects from a treatment or multiple overlapping treatments. If the project is not performed, agencies will continue to approach the selection of treatments with the same information currently available, which can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another or commonly not exist, leading to inconsistent application of treatments and less expectancy by drivers and pedestrians and a less safe outcome. The objective of this research is to develop MUTCD warrants for pedestrian traffic control devices, especially for the pedestrian traffic control signal. Characteristics that could be considered include vehicle volume, operating speed, available gaps in the vehicle stream, pedestrian demand (including forecasted demand), crossing distance, posted speed limit (target vehicle speed), pedestrian walking speed, and neighboring land use. Additional characteristics will likely need to be considered based upon the reviews and surveys of practice. As part of this project, guidance will be developed to provide explanations on how to use the procedure to identify the appropriate treatments for the conditions present at the location. There is a growing interest from agencies in (1) having information to guide them in choosing from the increasing variety of pedestrian crossing treatments and (2) having a better understanding of the characteristics of each treatment and how they might be beneficial for a given location. In addition, as more agencies and programs promote walking and walkable communities, the interest (and need) for such guidance will grow and be more regularly used if available. Guidance on treatment selection will provide practitioners with the ability to more confidently provide an improvement to a crossing with reduced concern about over-treating or under-treating those crossings or introducing unintended effects from a treatment. Currently, the approach to selection of treatments can vary widely from one jurisdiction to another or may be largely nonexistent, leading to inconsistent application of treatments and less expectancy by drivers and pedestrians. Without this guidance regarding the prudent progression of safe pedestrian crossing treatment, overlapping devices will continue to be installed with unintended consequences and increased risk and liability to public agencies and private roadway owners. 

Language

  • English

Project

  • Status: Proposed
  • Funding: $600000
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 03-143

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

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

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Harwood, Leslie

  • Start Date: 20210525
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 0

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01772213
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 03-143
  • Files: TRB, RIP
  • Created Date: May 24 2021 3:13PM