walkinginfo.org Logo Go to contents of page
APS home go to front of Accessible Pedestrian Signals
Go to Front page Background section Travel by Blind
Rules & Regulations
Technologies and Features section Types
Walk Indications
Other Features
Choosing and Installing section Where to Install
Designing Installations
New Construction or Reconstruction
Retrofitting an Intersection with an APS
Installation Specifications
Field Adjustments
State of Practices section Case Studies
International Practice
Devices section Manufacturers
Selection Tool
Product Matrix
Downloads section Full Guide
Rating Scales
Field Adjustments

APS where pedestrian timing is not pushbutton actuated

Pedestrian timing
When pedestrian timing is pre-timed, on-recall, or is called by passive pedestrian detection, pedestrians do not need to locate the pushbutton at the intersection.

Disadvantages of pushbuttons
When an APS pushbutton is added, pedestrians who are blind must sometimes deviate from their course of travel to push the button. They then lose some of the orientation gained as they approached the intersection. Orientation must be re-established using other, sometimes less reliable or efficient, clues before they are prepared to cross the street. This is so time-consuming in some cases that blind pedestrians are not ready to cross at the onset of the Walk interval.

Also, the pushbutton and locator tone may indicate to blind pedestrians that they must push a button to call a pedestrian phase, when this is, in fact, not required.

New construction
Draft Public Rights of Way Accessibility Guidelines require audible and vibrotactile indication of the WALK. Vibrotactile indication is available only on pushbutton-integrated APS. For newly constructed or reconstructed intersections, the pushbutton pole should be properly located and the audible and vibrotactile indications should be installed so pedestrians who need vibrotactile information can wait for crossing with a hand on the vibrator.

See New Construction or Reconstruction for installation requirements.

When retrofitting an intersection with an APS, strict adherence to the guidelines may require extensive construction. Many downtown areas with wide sidewalks have pretimed pedestrian phases. Poles are rarely located in optimal locations for installation of pushbutton integrated devices with audible and vibrotactile indications of the Walk.

Installation of such devices in poor locations may provide misleading and dangerous information.

Other options
It may be appropriate to consider other options when the addition of the APS is the only change planned at an intersection with pretimed signals. Unless there is good justification for using a pushbutton from an engineering perspective, a pushbutton at intersections with pretimed phasing is not necessarily desirable from the perspective of pedestrians who are blind. If a pushbutton cannot be installed in a location where the vibrotactile information associated with the pushbutton is usable, it makes little sense to install a pushbutton with vibrotactile indications.

A pedhead mounted APS without a pushbutton or locator tone may be more appropriate. Walk message and volume levels should be carefully determined to avoid confusion to pedestrians and to prevent disturbance to neighbors. Unless audible beaconing is determined to be necessary, the APS speaker should be oriented toward the waiting location of the pedestrian. Use of a small mast arm to locate the APS optimally over the crosswalk location should be considered.
The mast arm is used in this installation in Toronto Canada to position pedestrian signal head and speaker closer to the crosswalk.

Recommended characteristics - APS at pretimed inter-sections where beaconing is not needed
APS installations at pretimed intersections where beaconing is not needed should have:
  • No locator tone;
  • Quiet walk signal 2-5dBA above ambient sound;
  • Either pushbutton-integrated APS, or a pedhead-mounted APS aimed down toward the waiting location
Recommended installation at pretimed intersections with no beaconing
  • Precise location of APS is very important to prevent ambiguity about which crosswalk is being signaled.
  • Sound source for either pushbutton-integrated or pedhead-mounted APS on the same corner should be a minimum 3m (10 ft) apart.
  • Pedhead mounted APS must be above the waiting location of the crosswalk being signaled (See drawings and discussion).
topup arrow

  << previous page  |  next page >>
spacer image
This site was developed under the sponsorship of the National Cooperative Highway Research Program.