Featuring an advance cross bar and ladder design, this crosswalk is safe and visible for pedestirans.

The definition of a legal pedestrian crossing varies somewhat from state to state; this one from Florida is typical:

"CROSSWALK: (a) That part of a roadway at an intersection included within the connections of the lateral lines of the sidewalks on opposite sides of the highway, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the traversable roadway, or (b) Any portion of a roadway at an intersection or elsewhere distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings on the surface."

At both signalized and unsignalized intersections, there is an implied (legal) crosswalk for pedestrians at each leg, whether or not the crosswalk is marked. The only time this is not true is when there is a sign clearly prohibiting pedestrians from crossing one or more of the legs. Midblock crossings that are marked may have other physical features and/or signs.

Marked crosswalks

Marked crosswalks serve to highlight the right-of-way where motorists can expect pedestrians to cross and designate a stopping or yielding location (some states are stop states, others are yield states). They can also indicate optimal or preferred locations for pedestrians to cross. Various crosswalk marking patterns are given in the MUTCD; however, the "international" (also known as "ladder" or "zebra") markings are strongly preferred, particularly at uncontrolled locations, because they are far more visible, which is particularly important at night or in low light conditions (e.g., rain).

Marked crosswalks should often be installed in conjunction with other enhancements that physically reinforce crosswalks and reduce vehicle speeds, particularly at uncontrolled locations and on more major roads. Examples of these are given in the Crossing Enhancements section. It is also usually useful to supplement crosswalk markings with warning signs for motorists. At some locations, signs can get "lost" in visual clutter, so care must be taken in placement. Further discussion on signs can be found in the Signals and Signs section.

Recommended guidelines and priorities for crosswalk installation at uncontrolled locations are given in the FHWA document, Safety Effect of Marked Versus Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations: Final Report and Recommended Guidelines. These guidelines are based on a major study of 1,000 marked crosswalks and 1,000 unmarked crossings in 30 U.S. cities. Recommendations are also given for providing other pedestrian crossing enhancements at uncontrolled locations with and without a marked crosswalk.

Crosswalk materials

Crosswalk markings are defined in the MUTCD as solid white transverse, longitudinal, or diagonal lines. Additional materials or colors are sometimes used to supplement the markings, but they are not a substitute for quality roadway markings. It is important to ensure that crosswalk markings are visible to motorists, particularly at night. Crosswalks should not be slippery, create tripping hazards, or be difficult to traverse by those with diminished mobility or visual capabilities. Granite and cobblestones are examples of materials that are aesthetically pleasing, but are inappropriate for crosswalks. They are not smooth, become slippery when wet, and are difficult to traverse by pedestrians who are visually impaired or using wheelchairs. In addition, they are likely to become uneven over time, even when installed smoothly, when subject to the regular weight of motor vehicles.

One of the best materials for marking crosswalks is tape, which is installed on new or repaved streets. It is highly reflective, long-lasting, slip-resistant, and does not require a high level of maintenance if installed properly. One caveat is that it does require a higher level of attention and expertise in the installation process in order to fulfill its full potential. Although initially more costly than paint, both inlay tape and thermoplastic are more cost-effective in the long run. Inlay tape is recommended for new and resurfaced pavement, while thermoplastic may be a better option on rougher pavement surfaces. Both inlay tape and thermoplastic are more visible and less slippery than paint when wet.


  • Warn motorists to expect pedestrian crossings
  • Indicate preferred crossing locations


  • Crosswalk locations should be convenient for pedestrian access.
  • Ideally, crosswalks should be used in conjunction with other measures, such as advance warning signs, warning signs, stop bars, median crossing islands and curb extensions (only where there is on-street parking), to improve the safety of a pedestrian crossing, particularly on multi-lane roads with average daily traffic (ADT) above about 10,000.
  • Marked crosswalks are important for pedestrians who are visually impaired.
  • Crosswalk markings must be placed to include the ramp so that a wheelchair does not have to leave the marked crosswalk to access the ramp.

Estimated cost

Approximate installation costs are $100 ($400 for four legs of an intersection) for a marked crosswalk with two transverse line, $300 ($1200 for four legs of an intersection) for an international crosswalk, and $20,000 ($80,000 for four legs of an intersection; also depends on the size of the intersection) for a patterned concrete crosswalk. Maintenance of the markings must also be considered and varies by region of the country and materials used.