National Academies Press: OpenBook

Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals (2023)

Chapter:Chapter 1 - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26898.
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Suggested Citation:"Chapter 1 - Introduction." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2023. Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26898.

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1   Introduction The midblock pedestrian signal (MPS) treatment operates as a coordinated-actuated vehicular traffic control signal at a midblock crossing. Figure 1 is an example of an MPS installation in Los Angeles, CA, where the MPS has been used for more than 40 years. Previously, the MPS displayed a flashing red indication to motorists rather than a steady red indication during the pedestrian walk and clearance intervals. Recently, the city of Los Angeles modified the signal cycle so the MPS displays a steady red to motorists during the pedestrian walk interval and a flashing red to motorists during the pedestrian clearance (i.e., flashing DON’T WALK) interval. Other cities do not include a flashing red indication for motorists during the signal cycle for their MPSs. Some overhead MPSs have a green arrow for motorists rather than a steady green ball (see Figure 1). Los Angeles has many MPSs and has integrated them into its urban street network. With block spacing of about 600 ft, the MPS provides a pedestrian crossing opportu- nity approximately every 300 ft. Recent statistics on pedestrian crashes are causing concerns. A 2020 study reported 6,721 pedestrians were killed on United States roads in 2020, up 46% from the number of pedestrian fatalities in 2010 (1). These statistics are even more alarming when compared to a much smaller increase of 5% for all other traffic deaths. Several reasons have been suggested for the increase in pedestrian fatalities, including an increased number of pedestrians and drivers on the roadways, cell phone use distractions, and higher vehicle speeds. With the growing pedestrian crash numbers, there is a need to use a data-driven safety analysis pro- cedure to identify the safety performance of pedestrian treatments. This project focuses on conducting such a safety analysis of the MPS. Research Objective The objective of this research was to summarize the effectiveness of MPS installations and propose language suitable for inclusion in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD; 2). Organization of Report This report provides information on the safety analysis of the MPS in the following chapters: 1. Introduction: gives an overview of MPSs, project objectives, and the organization of the report. 2. Literature Review: summarizes the literature on the safety effectiveness of pedestrian treatments that include a signal controller and on how pedestrian volume at a signalized intersection can be estimated. C H A P T E R 1

2 Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals 3. Survey of Public Agencies: presents the results from a survey developed to gain greater under- standing of the state of the practice for pedestrian crossing treatments at intersections and midblock locations. 4. Safety Analysis—Database Development: describes the identification of potential study sites and the building of the database to be used in the safety evaluation. 5. Safety Analysis—Findings: presents the findings from the safety analysis that investigated changes in crash frequency by crash type due to the presence of the MPS. 6. Conclusions and Recommendations: provides a summary of the findings and discusses future research needs. Figure 1. Midblock pedestrian signal example.

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Midblock pedestrian signals (MPSs) provide safety benefits and support “complete streets,” a transportation policy and design approach that calls for roadways to be designed and operated with all users in mind: bicyclists, public transportation users, drivers, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities.

The TRB National Cooperative Highway Research Program's NCHRP Research Report 1030: Safety at Midblock Pedestrian Signals presents a state-of-the-practice guide to midblock pedestrian crossing treatments, summarizes the safety effectiveness of MPS installations, and proposes language for consideration in future updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for MPSs.

Supplemental to the report is a Memo on Implementation of the Research Findings.

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