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Neighborhood Walking Guide

  There are no safe or easy ways to cross the streets in my neighborhood.

Having no safe or easy way to cross a busy street can not only significantly discourage people from walking, but it can be downright dangerous. Do any of the following problems exist in your neighborhood? If so, click on the appropriate problem to find out what you can do to address these specific situations.

No crosswalks or other ways to cross the street exist
• Request a marked crosswalk
• Can a traffic signal be helpful?
• Other ways to cross the street — considerations for over- and underpasses

Drivers do not yield to pedestrians using crosswalks
• Insist that the police enforce the pedestrian right-of-way law
• Make pedestrian crosswalks safer

When trying to cross the street, the view of traffic is blocked by parked cars, bushes, trees or other obstacles


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No crosswalks or other ways to cross the street exist
You may think that no crosswalks exist in your neighborhood, but crosswalks can either be marked or unmarked, and crosswalks exist at all public street intersections where the sidewalk crosses the street. For a crosswalk to exist at a midblock location, it must be marked. Pedestrians have the legal right to cross in marked or unmarked crosswalks.

Marked crosswalks are used as a guide to tell pedestrians the best place to cross, to serve as a warning to motorists of pedestrian crossing activity, and to remind motorists to yield to pedestrians. They are also helpful at complex intersections to show exactly where to cross the street. Marked crosswalks are not as commonly used on local streets inside neighborhoods except when installed as part of a "Safe Route to School Plan" for children although some cities regularly mark crosswalks at most locations. Crosswalks are often marked at busy intersections, near schools or universities, at transit stops, and commercial or retail establishments.
    Request a marked crosswalk
    While marked crosswalks have been shown to be successful in encouraging pedestrians to cross at a specific location, the results are mixed with respect to getting drivers to drive slower or safer, or to be more courteous to a pedestrian. On higher speed and busy, multi-lane streets, more substantial facilities are usually needed to provide safer crossings for pedestrians. These measures can include a raised median (pedestrian refuge) island, parking restrictions, advanced warning signs or pavement markings, brighter nighttime lighting, or other devices that can slow traffic down at the crossing or improve driver expectancy of the crossing. A zebra, ladder, or continental crosswalk marking pattern makes crosswalks more visible to motorists.

    To request a marked crosswalk at a crossing, you need to contact your city or town officials, most likely your city or town traffic engineer, or your city or town council. Before approaching your city or town officials, it's a good idea to acquaint yourself with the literature on crosswalks, links for which are available below. Factors that go in to the decision as to whether or not to mark a crosswalk usually include the roadway and traffic conditions as well as the number of pedestrians who cross the street. Some of these factors are outlined below:

      Intersections with existing traffic signals
      Marked crosswalks should normally be installed at traffic signals where pedestrians are expected to cross. Pedestrians should be expected to cross from every corner of an intersection unless there are extraordinary and extenuating circumstances that make a part of the intersection unsafe. Marked crosswalks will encourage pedestrians to cross at the traffic signal and discourage motorists from blocking the walking path for pedestrians in the crosswalk. The city may have to install pedestrian crossing signals (if they do not currently exist) and should use highly reflective material for the crosswalk lines. In some cases pedestrian push buttons may also be needed. Crosswalk lines should be maintained in good condition. Report any instances where crosswalk lines are worn, faded, or have not been replaced after street resurfacing.

      Intersections with existing STOP signs
      It is helpful to install a marked crosswalk at a crossing controlled by a stop sign, especially when there is a moderate to high number of pedestrians that use the crossing or if the crossing is near a school or in a business district. Crosswalk markings help discourage stopping vehicles from blocking the walking path across the intersection and they help remind motorists of the presence of pedestrians. Highly reflective material should always be used for the crosswalk lines. Crosswalk lines should be maintained in good condition. Report any instances where crosswalk lines are worn, faded, or have not been replaced after street resurfacing.

      Locations without traffic signals or STOP signs
      Installing crosswalks lines alone may not be enough to improve pedestrian safety at mid-block areas and intersections without a stoplight or STOP sign (also known as an "uncontrolled crossing"), especially at wide, high speed streets.

      A national study on whether it is safer to have a marked or unmarked crosswalk at a crossing where no traffic signal or stop sign is present was recently conducted for the Federal Highway Administration. This study involved analysis of 5 years of pedestrian crashes at 1,000 marked crosswalks and 1,000 matched unmarked comparison sites. The study results revealed that on two-lane roads, the presence of a marked crosswalk alone at an uncontrolled location was associated with no difference in pedestrian crash rate, compared to an unmarked crosswalk. Furthermore, on multi-lane roads with traffic volumes above about 12,000 vehicles per day, having a marked crosswalk alone (without other substantial improvements) was associated with a higher pedestrian crash rate (after controlling for other site factors) compared to an unmarked crosswalk. Recommendations and guidelines are provided in the report on the placement of marked crosswalks and other crossing measures. The full study can be found here (http://www.walkinginfo.org/rd/devices.htm#cros1), on walkinginfo.org.

      However, when combined with other pedestrian improvements, properly designed crosswalks at uncontrolled crossings may increase pedestrian safety. For instance, the same study mentioned above found that raised medians provided significantly lower pedestrian crash rates on multi-lane roads, compared to roads with no raised median. Accordingly, properly designed crosswalks should employ a combination of the following design features to maximize pedestrian safety:
      • A raised mid-block median or crossing island (also known as a refuge island);
      • Add a traffic signal with pedestrian signals when warranted;
      • Curb extensions or other roadway narrowing devices that can narrow the distance a pedestrian must travel across the street;
      • Raised crosswalks;
      • Adequate nighttime lighting;
      • Advance stop lines; and
      • Pedestrian warning signs and flashing signals or lights.
      By being aware of these measures and suggesting them, you can help your city or town officials consider other measures to aid pedestrian travel. When used, crosswalk lines should be maintained in good condition. Report any instances where crosswalk lines are worn, faded, or have not been replaced after street resurfacing.

    Can a traffic signal be helpful?
    Traffic signals are an important means of traffic control. When used properly (and where warranted) they can help improve safety, manage traffic effectively, and make it easier to cross the street. However, a number of factors need to be considered before a traffic signal is installed.
    • If the street is relatively narrow and motor vehicle traffic on the cross-street is moderate to low, the signal can result in more pedestrian delay while waiting for the WALK signal.
    • Often times, pedestrians will cross against the light, resulting in crashes, and motorists may also run the light.
    • Other potential pedestrian crashes may result from right-turn on green or left-turn on green vehicles (when motorists are supposed to yield to a pedestrian in the crosswalk).
    • Improperly placed traffic signals can result in an even higher numbers of crashes, can waste fuel, and can create more traffic congestion and air quality problems.
    • Traffic signals are expensive to build (costing $100,000 or more to build), operate, and maintain.
    Despite these concerns and considerations, where warranted, traffic signals (with pedestrian signals) can benefit pedestrians in certain situations.

    The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), published by the Federal Highway Administration, provides conditions when the advantages of a traffic signal may outweigh the disadvantages of a signal. There are two warrants, or reasons, that specifically or partially apply to pedestrians: the Pedestrian Volume Warrant, meaning there is a large number of pedestrians that would benefit from the installation of a traffic signal, and the School Crossing Warrant, meaning there is a good opportunity to improve a crossing for children near a school.

    Even if these conditions apply, an important additional consideration is traffic signal spacing. When signalized locations are too close together, they could create more congestion, and may create gridlock conditions. In the core of a downtown area, it may be common to have traffic signals spaced one block apart, and traffic progression may be maintained by having one-way streets. In outlying areas, traffic signals should generally be spaced further apart. Because of the high cost of traffic signals and possible negative safety implications, it may be best to evaluate other measures in lieu of a signal, including raised median islands, reducing the number of lanes, improved lighting, improved warning signs or pavement markings.

    Other ways to cross the street — considerations for over- and underpasses
    Pedestrian over- or underpasses (tunnels or bridges) are only helpful for busy pedestrian crossings across wide, high speed, or extremely high volume streets where there is no other safe way to get pedestrians across the street. While over- and underpasses can work well to keep pedestrians safe from vehicle traffic since they essentially take the pedestrian out of harms way, they are also very expensive and obtrusive. Additionally, underpasses may involve significant crime, drainage, and maintenance concerns. Overpasses will result in better security, but will result in complaints from nearby homeowners about the loss of privacy and aesthetics. Also, in some locations, pedestrians will not use the over- or underpass if they believe they can save time by dashing across the street. This puts them in greater jeopardy. Over- and underpasses also contribute to the sense that the road is a highway only for cars and that people do not belong. Communities should think carefully about the overall sense of place they want to convey when considering constructing an over- or underpass.

    Since ramps for overpasses (and underpasses) must be gradual enough to accommodate wheelchair users (with a maximum slope of 8.33%), they can be very lengthy and can greatly increase the distance traveled to cross the street. These ramps require a considerable amount of space on both sides of the bridge, which adds to the cost. The construction of underpasses can be very disruptive to traffic for a significant amount of time. Pedestrian underpasses or bridges can cost anywhere from $500,000 to $1.5 million or more. Accordingly, over- or underpasses should only be constructed as a last resort.

    It may be more appropriate to use traffic-calming measures, pedestrian crossing islands, or to install a pedestrian-activated traffic signal. Nevertheless, places that may necessitate an over- or underpass may include busy intersections (where a traffic signal cannot be used) or busy midblock crossings, school or university crossings, busy bike path crossings, or crossings of fast moving traffic such as interstates or state highways.

    To get your city to support the construction of an over- or underpass, read more about the following suggestions:

      Get a sense of how many people will benefit from an over- or underpass
      To get your city to consider constructing an over- or underpass, you need to make a strong argument that a large number of pedestrians will benefit, and that no other alternatives exist. To build your case, consider the following courses of action:
      • Conduct simple and quick surveys of people at the crossing. You and some friends could ask passer-bys how often they would use the over- or underpass if it existed. Getting potential users and nearby business owners and residents to sign a petition would further your cause.
      • Count the number of people who try to cross the street at the crossing location where the over- or underpass is needed. Try to do this at different times during the day since the number of people probably varies depending on the time of day. If more development is going to occur in your neighborhood, estimate how many more people will be wanting to cross the street in the future.
      • Ask your police department if they have any record of motorist-pedestrian crashes that have occurred in the area. Pedestrian crash information may be the most important documentation for elected officials to justify investing significant resources into a pedestrian bridge or tunnel.
      • Work with neighborhood or community groups, businesses, and other citizen groups to build support for the under- or overpass project and to prevent potential opposition. Show area residents photos of what the under- or overpass would look like and where it would be placed. Get the support of the adjacent property owners who would be most affected, especially for a pedestrian overpass.
      These surveys, counts, and petitions would help provide City support and justification for funding for an under- or overpass project.

      Timing helps
      Perhaps the best way to get an over- or underpass constructed in your area is to coordinate the timing of your request with proposed roadway construction, new development, or redevelopment projects. For example, if your community is planning to tear up the road to lay new utility lines or to repave the street, contact your city officials and suggest they consider installing a simple underpass at the same time. Better yet, if a canal or stream passes underneath the roadway at a given point and the city is planning to work on the channel, it is an ideal time to consider building a concrete path adjacent to the canal or stream. Major developers may also be a source of funding for a new over- or underpass if it can be shown that their development will create a substantial crossing problem or will greatly benefit from the crossing. These development or redevelopment projects may include university or hospital campuses.

      Consider the scale and setting of the project
      A low cost underpass may be nothing more than a tunnel composed of large concrete or corrugated metal pipes to create a simple walkway. More complicated underpasses involve more sophisticated designs that may include lighting, drainage facilities, ramps, and handrails to allow a large number of pedestrians and bicyclists through at the same time.

      Overpasses work best when the topography allows for a structure without ramps (e.g., overpass over a sunken freeway). Underpasses work best when designed to feel open and accessible. Ramps are required to make the underpass or overpass useable to people in wheelchairs. The ramps can be quite extensive and require a sizable area of land on each side of the bridge. This can also be quite expensive. Lighting, drainage, graffiti removal, drainage, and security are major concerns with underpasses.

Drivers do not yield to pedestrians using crosswalks
In most states, drivers are supposed to yield to or stop for pedestrians crossing the street in a crosswalk, even if the pedestrian is in an unmarked crosswalk. However, this point is not emphasized enough in driver education in the United States and police may not enforce these laws. This problem is more pronounced on higher speed streets where it is more difficult to get drivers to slow or yield to pedestrians. Pedestrians may become afraid to cross the street when motorists won't stop for them when they are crossing. These people may walk less. Fortunately, a number of steps can be taken to make pedestrian crossings safer that involve police enforcement and physical improvements.
    Insist that the police reinforce the pedestrian right-of-way law
    Police enforcement is useful in educating motorists of the requirement to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Police enforcement is most effective when it is part of a public safety information campaign. Enforcement campaigns designed to increase yielding behavior can produce a marked and sustained increase in the percentage of motorists yielding to pedestrians depending on how long the campaign lasts (i.e., longer campaigns equate to more sustained success). While enforcement projects are helpful, more long-term, on-going police enforcement measures should also be undertaken. City officials are essential in making pedestrian safety a priority to the police. Citizens and neighborhood advocates must inform their public officials of this need.

    Make pedestrian crosswalks safer
    Cities should improve pedestrian crosswalks when they are not working effectively. Treatments used to make streets easier to cross and crosswalks more visible to motorists include those treatments listed below. Though the following treatments do not work everywhere and should not be viewed as cure-alls due to some cautions (described below) and cost restraints, cities should consider these practices if they have an unsafe crossing on their hands.

      Mark crosswalks with highly reflective material
      According to the Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide, marked crosswalks indicate the best locations for pedestrians to cross the street and they help remind motorists that they are required to yield to pedestrians. Marked crosswalks are useful at some high pedestrian locations along with other measures to guide pedestrians along a preferred walking path. However, depending on their location and design, marked crosswalks are often not successful in getting drivers to drive slower or safer, or to be more courteous to a pedestrian, especially on higher speed and busy, multi-lane streets. For these kinds of streets, more substantial facilities, such as those bulleted above, may be needed to provide for safer crossings for pedestrians.

      If it is determined that a crosswalk should be marked, then to be visible to motorists, particularly at night, they must be marked with a bright retro-reflective material. Even though granite or cobblestones are aesthetically appealing materials, they are not appropriate as a walking surface or for marking the crosswalk lines. One of the best materials for marking crosswalks is inlay tape, which is ideal for use on new or repaved streets. It is highly reflective, long-lasting, and slip-resistant, and does not require a high level of maintenance. Although initially more costly than paint, both inlay tape and thermoplastic are more cost-effective in the long run.

      Raise the crossing above street level
      The Pedestrian Facilities Users Guide states that raised crosswalks (three to four inches high) encourage motorists to drive slower at the crossing, which will make them more likely to yield to crossing pedestrians. On one street in Cambridge, MA, the number of motorists who yielded to pedestrians crossing at crosswalks went from approximately 10 percent before installation of the raised crosswalks to 55 percent after the installations. Additionally, according to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, raised crosswalks increase pedestrian visibility and the likelihood that the driver yields to pedestrians especially when combined with an overhead flashing light. Raised crosswalks should not be used on emergency routes, bus routes, or high speed streets. Drainage of storm water runoff and snow plowing considerations may also be a concern with raised crosswalks. They are most appropriate on low speed local or neighborhood streets.

      Narrow the roadway
      Studies have found that roadway narrowing treatments (such as raised medians, curb extensions, etc.) can increase pedestrian safety. These treatments reduce the distance pedestrians have to cross the street, thereby decreasing their exposure to moving motor vehicles. A study for the Federal Highway Administration found that the presence of a raised median or crossing island can significantly reduce the likelihood of pedestrian crashes since the median can serve as a refuge for crossing pedestrians and may cause motorists to drive slower since the roadway appears less wide open. Curb extensions provide pedestrians a safe place to stand a view oncoming traffic before crossing.

      Place warning signs and/or lights or signals in advance, or above the crosswalk
      Warning signs and lights can help alert unfamiliar motorists to the presence of pedestrians who may be crossing the street. Warning signs should be used at locations where drivers may not typically expect pedestrians to cross, and at locations where school children frequently cross. Signs that integrate LED lights, such as the one pictured to the right, and/or other types of lighting such as flashers can also increase the awareness of drivers to the presence of pedestrians and, used in combination with other crosswalk treatments, can increase pedestrian safety.

      Warning signs can provide important information to improve road safety if used properly, consistently, and if they are not over-used. If motorists know what to expect, there is a greater chance that they will behave properly. Signs should be used judiciously, as overuse breeds noncompliance and disrespect. Too many signs may also create visual clutter and important signs can get lost.

      To request a sign for a crossing in your neighborhood, you should contact your city officials. Read below to find out what types of signs or lights could be useful for a difficult crossing in your neighborhood.

      Sign basics
      Traffic signs can be either "regulatory", "warning", or "guide" signs. Regulatory signs, such as STOP, YIELD, or turn restrictions require certain driver actions and can be enforced. Warning signs can provide helpful information, especially to motorists and pedestrians who are unfamiliar with the area. Guide signs provide direction or location information. Examples of signs that may help pedestrians include warning signs for motorists, warning signs for pedestrians, pedestrian push button signs, NO TURN ON RED signs, and guide signs. Advance pedestrian warning signs should be used where pedestrian crossings may not be expected by motorists, especially if there is a high number of motorists who are unfamiliar with the area. A new fluorescent yellow/green (FYG) color allowed four use in pedestrian, bicycle, and school warning signs. This bright color is becoming popular for use in attracting the attention of drivers because it is unique. All signs should be periodically checked to make sure that they are in good condition, free from graffiti, reflective at night, and continue to serve a purpose.

      Signs in the middle of the street
      A recent study by the City of Madison (PDF file, 698k) submitted to the Federal Highway Administration found that in most cases, the placement of signs which read "Yield to Pedestrians" in the middle of crosswalks significantly increased the likelihood that motorists would stop for pedestrians using the crosswalks. Another study conducted later, again for the Federal Highway Administration, confirms the results of the Madison study.

      Overhead flashing signs
      A study on the use of an overhead sign in Seattle reading "Crosswalk" also was effective in encouraging motorists to yield to pedestrians and reducing the percentage of pedestrians who ran, aborted, or hesitated while crossing. According to a study by the Federal Highway Administration, raised crosswalks combined with an overhead flashing light both increased pedestrian visibility and the likelihood that the driver yields to pedestrians. A study that examined the effect of crosswalks with a combination of high-visibility treatments (an overhead sign reading "Crosswalk" along with a refuge island and pedestrian crossing sign) on motorist behavior found that drivers were 30 percent to 40 percent more likely to yield to pedestrians at the treated locations when compared to untreated locations.

      Advance yield markings
      A recent study in Nova Scotia (Van Houten, et. al, in press) found that advance yield markings can result in safer crossings for pedestrians since motorists become aware of the presence of a crosswalk before the actual crosswalk location. The markings that were found to be effective in this study were yield markings coupled with a sign. These markings help prevent against multiple threat crashes, which involve a vehicle in one lane yielding to a crossing pedestrian while the driver of an oncoming vehicle in the same direction in an adjacent lane strikes the pedestrian. In these instances, the motorist is usually not aware of the crossing pedestrian since the pedestrian is shielded by the yielding vehicle.

      Flashing yellow warning beacons, commonly called flashers, are frequently requested in the belief that they will reduce vehicle speeds and improve safety. Flashing beacons generally can be helpful when they are used to alert a driver of an unexpected condition that is not readily apparent, such as a pedestrian crossing. To be effective, flashers must command respect of the drivers. Warning flashers can be mounted over the road or along the side of the road, and when used should be used in conjunction with advance warning signs.

      While less expensive than traffic signals, flashers can be very costly ($30,000 to $50,000 to install plus ongoing operation and maintenance costs). Studies in urban areas show that flashers typically result in little if any reduction in driver speeds. Even studies of flashers as speed limit sign beacons (used to alert drivers of a lower speed limit when the flashing beacon is in operation) has only resulted in about a three mph speed reduction. This is despite a regulatory speed limit sign requiring a 15-mph to 20-mph reduction when flashing at school zone locations.

      When flashers are used improperly or are overused, they soon loose much of their effectiveness. They cease to command the respect of the drivers if the driver does not consistently see the need for their use. If flashers are used, they should only flash during the times when crossings occur (e.g., such as during school crossing periods). This can be done with a time clock, pedestrian push button to activate the flasher, or through automatic pedestrian detection devices. If used at many locations in a community, the effectiveness of each flasher may be diminished as it becomes part of the normal driving environment and is ignored by drivers. Often, the request for a flasher can be a symptom of a need for a traffic safety education, training, or police enforcement in the community. Other types of traffic improvements, such as a 'Safe Route to School' plan, raised medians, advance warning signs or pavement markings, or parking removal should also be explored before installing a flashing warning beacon or 'flashing crosswalk'. Flashers are also more effective when they are used at locations where they will stand out and few or no other distractions exist. In busy urban areas where a lot of signs and lights are present, they are usually "lost" and not as effective.

      Solar Wireless Flashers
      Solar, wireless and microprocessor technology has lead to products that are easier to install than conventional hard-wired systems. For example, the solar technology eliminates any electrical connections, while the wireless technology sends the activation signal across the street, so no trenching or road work is required. The cost of this kind of push-button activated system is under $5,000. The technology is used to minimize installation costs. A control cabinet is not needed because the all of the electronics and battery pack fit inside the signal head. Due to the low installation cost, and minimal maintenance costs, solar wireless flashers have become a viable choice in warning systems.

      In-pavement lighting
      Another type of flasher, in-pavement lighting in crosswalks, also known as flashing crosswalks and in-roadway warning lights, is being used increasingly in communities across the nation. In most cases, this technique involves imbedding a series of flashing lights in the pavement on the sides of crosswalks that are activated by a pedestrian push button or an automatic pedestrian detector that is triggered by a pedestrian who is about to enter the crosswalk. The flashing lights in the pavement, which should span the width of the entire roadway, can be accompanied by flashing lights imbedded in a crosswalk sign at the crosswalk. Flashing crosswalks are approved in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for marked crosswalks that are not controlled by traffic signals, STOP signs or YIELD signs. Though not recommended for wide, high-speed streets, a before and after study in Kirkland, WA, found that in-pavement crosswalk warning lights were effective in encouraging motorists to stop for pedestrians during the day time and especially at night. In this study, the percent of motorists who stopped for pedestrians using the crosswalk increased anywhere between 30% and 84%.

      Provide pedestrian signals that are properly located, operated, maintained, and obeyed
      All traffic signals should have pedestrian crossing signals. However, some intersections may not, perhaps because little attention may have been paid to pedestrian activity at the time the traffic signal was installed, or it was not the practice of your community to install pedestrian signals during the period of time when the traffic signal was installed. Pedestrian signals are essential at complex intersections or when left-turn arrows exist. They should also be used a school crossings and for wide streets when pedestrians need to know if they will have enough time to complete their crossing. If you think that a pedestrian crossing signal would make it easier for pedestrians to cross a street in your neighborhood, then read below to find out how to pursue this end.
      Installing pedestrian crossing signals at existing stoplights should be a given, so if one is missing, it should be added. To request the installation of pedestrian crossing signals at a signalized intersection, contact your city or town officials or make the request to your city council. When improving a signal, supporting pedestrian facilities, such as sidewalks, curb cuts, and marked crosswalks may also be needed. These improvements may take time and money and your city may have to prioritize your request with similar projects needed elsewhere in the city.

      Most traffic signals should operate so that pedestrian push buttons are not needed. Under these conditions, a walk interval is provided on every green signal for cars about every one to two minutes (called 'fixed-time' signal operation). Some pedestrian signals may need a push button to call the walk signal cross one or both streets at an intersection. When push buttons exist, they should be conveniently located near the crossing point, be reachable by a person in a wheelchair, be in plain view, and be easy to find. Agencies could also post signs informing pedestrians on how to use the push button and wait for the WALK signal before crossing.

      Signal timing must ensure that pedestrians have enough time to cross the street. There must be enough time to allow pedestrians to finish crossing the street during the flashing DON'T WALK signal (or flashing upraised hand) so that they are out of the street before the signal changes for the cars. When traffic signals make pedestrians wait too long for a WALK signal to be given, people may become discouraged from using the crossing or may cross against the light. Similarly, people may ignore the signal if it does not give enough time to cross the street. Additionally, pedestrians may be discouraged from crossing if there are a high number of vehicles turning into the crosswalk when they are using it. If you experience or if you witness people experiencing any of these problems, contact your city's or town's traffic department and give them a detailed description of the problem and/or request that more time be added to the WALK cycle. For information on the timing of pedestrian crossing cycles and different options for coordinating these cycles, click here.

      Your city needs to make sure that all pedestrian signals and push buttons are in working order. A periodic inspection program is needed for pedestrian signals. You can also help by reporting instances when the pedestrian signal is not working properly, the light is burned out, the push button does not work, or the signal is vandalized.

      Also keep an eye out to be sure that people understand what the signal is telling them. While many pedestrians want to see the WALK signal during the entire crossing, this isn't possible in many cases, especially when crossing wide streets. Instead, the WALKING PERSON symbol or WALK signal really means it is okay to start crossing. After a few steps into the street, pedestrians may see a flashing orange upraised hand or DON'T WALK signal. When this occurs, there should be enough time to complete crossing the street, but if you have not stepped into the street, you should stay on the curb and wait for the next walking man or WALK signal. The duration of the flashing DON'T WALK should be long enough for a pedestrian to cross the entire street (or to a median or other place of safety) at a walking speed of 3.5 feet per second. Signs can be installed at the traffic signal to educate pedestrians on the meaning of the WALK (or walking person), the flashing DON'T WALK (or upraised hand) or solid DON'T WALK pedestrian signal.

When trying to cross the street, the view of traffic is blocked by parked cars, bushes, trees or other obstacles
If it is difficult for pedestrians to see traffic approaching their crosswalk, then it is dangerous for a person to try to cross the street. Crossings should be clear of obstacles to maximize the pedestrian's ability to see approaching vehicles and for approaching vehicles to see pedestrians. Additionally, changes to the street, such as curb extensions, can help improve the sight lines for pedestrians and motorists.
    Make sure obstacles are minimized
    Keep bushes and trees in medians or at the sides of street crossings that may obstruct the view for a pedestrian properly pruned. You can help by reporting visibility problems at street crossings to your town, city, or homeowners association. Before entering the street, stop at the edge of the curb and look left and right. If you can see clearly and no branches or other obstacles obstruct your view, you've done a good job making the crosswalk a safer place for fellow pedestrians. If a neighbor needs to prune their vegetation, contact your city or homeowner's association.

    Request changes to the street
    If parked cars obstruct your view when you try to look for on-coming traffic before crossing the street, call your city to report the problem. One of the easiest solutions is to prohibit parking, or to enforce the existing parking restrictions. Bus stops should typically be located downstream from a crosswalk to improve conditions for pedestrians. You can suggest the city consider installing curb extensions or build parking bays so that pedestrians can see around the parked cars. Another solution may be to construct a raised crosswalk or provide additional warning signs, signals, or pavement markings to better alert motorists of the crossing.


Federal Highway Administration, 2001, "Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations." http://www.walkinginfo.org/rd/devices.htm#cros1

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, 2004, Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System. http://www.walkinginfo.org/pedsafe

Federal Highway Administration, 2000, "The Effects of Innovative Pedestrian Signs at Unsignalized Locations: A Tale of Three Treatments," http://www.walkinginfo.org/rd/devices.htm#3cities

Federal Highway Administration, 2001, "The Effects of Traffic Calming Measures on Pedestrian and Motorist Behavior." http://www.walkinginfo.org/rd/for_ped.htm#calm

Federal Highway Administration, 2001, "An Evaluation of High-Visibility Crosswalk Treatment - Clearwater, Florida." http://www.walkinginfo.org/rd/devices.htm#clear

City of Madison, 1999, "Field Evaluation of Experimental 'In-Street' Yield to Pedestrian Signs,"

City of Kirkland, 1999, "Kirkland's Experience with In-Pavement Flashing Lights at Crosswalks,"

Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, 2002, "FAQs: Crossing the Street."