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Effectiveness of Various Mid-block Crossing Treatments

Research Problem Statement


Pedestrians desire to travel from origin to destination in as near a straight line as is possible.  When pedestrian travel involves crossing a street or highway, many pedestrians choose to cross at a mid-block location.  It has been argued that providing signs and markings at crossing locations gives pedestrians a false sense of security.  There is no guarantee that driver is aware of the potential pedestrian crossing or, if aware, will exercise any caution regarding the potential crossing.

According to the MUTCD, mid-block at-grade crosswalks must be marked.  The traditional consensus among traffic engineers is that at-grade mid-block crosswalks are typically undesirable.  However, both pedestrian walking behaviors and public demand can create pressures for the installation of a mid-block pedestrian crossing.  Grade separated pedestrian crossings, can be costly and are often under utilized after construction.


The research should address the following issues:


·                     The relationship of roadway width, the inclination to cross at mid-block, and the safety of crossing;

·                     The relationship between the distance to an intersection (to either a signalized or a non-signalized intersection) and the inclination to cross at mid-block locations;

·                     Land use and mid-block crosswalk relationships: the way that origins and destinations are placed relative to each other (such as placing a major building entry at mid-block, with a parking lot directly across the street) can create a demand for mid-block pedestrian movements; and

·                     The effectiveness of various mid-block crossings treatments (no treatment, marked, activated flasher, continuous flashers, signal, raised table, grade-separated, etc.), both in terms of amount of use, disruption to motorist, and safety.


Literature Search Summary


·                       www.Walkinginfo.org.  - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration developed a methodology to better define the sequence of events and precipitating actions leading to pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes in the early 19702. In the early 1990s, this method was refined and used to determine the crash types for more than 5,000 pedestrian crashes in six states. The results showed that the mid-block events were the second major grouping of crash types and accounted for 26.5 percent of all crashes. Among this group, the most commonly crash type (1/3 of all) was the “mid-block dash” where a pedestrian would run into the street and the motorist’s view was not obstructed. Another 17 percent of these crashes were “dart-outs,” where the pedestrian ran or walked into the street, but the motorist’s view was obstructed until just before the impact.


·                       “Law Enforcement, Pedestrian Safety, and Driver Compliance with Crosswalk Laws,” Transportation Research Record 1485.  Although not targeted solely at mid-block crossings, a Seattle study found enforcement was rather ineffective in getting vehicles to stop for pedestrians.


·                       Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations, FHWA-RD-01-075. A large study based on five years of data at uncontrolled intersections found the presence of a raised median (or raised crossing island) was associated with a significantly lower pedestrian crash rate at multi-lane sites with both marked and unmarked crosswalks. Factors having no significant effect on pedestrian crash rate included: area (e.g., residential, central business district [CBD]), location (i.e., intersection vs. mid-block), speed limit, traffic operation (one-way or two-way), condition of crosswalk marking (excellent, good, fair, or poor), and crosswalk marking pattern (e.g., parallel lines, ladder type, zebra stripes).


·                       A Review of Pedestrian Safety Research In The United States and Abroad, January, 2004 (FHWA-RD-03-042).  Summarized research on pedestrian safety in the United States with a focus on crash characteristics and the safety effects of various roadway features and traffic-control devices.


·                       “Innovative Pedestrian Treatments at Unsignalized Crossings,” NCHRP project 3-71, scheduled for completion in Spring 2006.  Stated objectives include finding new engineering treatments to improve safety for pedestrians crossing high-volume and high-speed roadways at unsignalized locations (particularly, public transportation) and recommend modifications to the MUTCD traffic signal pedestrian warrant.


·                        “Planning, Design, and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities,” NCHRP project 15-20, revised final report delivered to AASHTO and under review by AASHTO committees. The first objective of this project was to compile the most relevant existing information related to the planning, design, and operation of pedestrian facilities, including the accommodation of pedestrians with disabilities. The second objective was to develop a guide for the planning, design, and operation of pedestrian facilities.


Research Objective


The objective of this research is to identify those factors or situations that are either conducive to, or unfavorable for, the safe operation of mid-block crosswalks.  These should include both pedestrian demand and traffic operations considerations.  Planning and land development practices that can reduce demands for mid-block crossings at inherently unsafe locations should be documented. 

The project should include a literature review of previous related research, a documentation of the degree of use, and the safety experience of grade-separated crossings compared to at-grade mid-block crossings.  The final report should include informal warrants for the installation of grade-separated or at-grade mid-block crossings and level of warning (e.g., basic warning signs and pavement markings for crosswalk, pavement markings in advance of crosswalk, crosswalk with median shelter area, continuous flashing lights, activated flashing lights, pedestrian-activated traffic control signal), and other actions to take to both better serve pedestrians and avoid creating unsafe situations.



Estimate Of Problem Funding and Research Period


Recommended Funding:  



Research Period:  

27 months


Sponsoring Committee:AKD10, Performance Effects on Geometric Design
Date Posted:06/01/2007
Date Modified:06/03/2007
Index Terms:Midblock crossings, Midblock crosswalks, Crosswalks, Pedestrian movement, Pedestrian safety, Pedestrians, Origin and destination, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, Traffic engineers, Signalized intersections, Unsignalized intersections, Traffic safety,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Pedestrians and Bicyclists
Operations and Traffic Management
Safety and Human Factors

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