Crossing islands—also known as center islands, refuge islands, pedestrian
islands, or median slow points—are raised islands placed in the center
of the street at intersections or midblock to help protect crossing pedestrians
from motor vehicles. Center crossing islands allow pedestrians to deal
with only one direction of traffic at a time, and they enable them to stop
partway across the street and wait for an adequate gap in traffic before
crossing the second half of the street. Where midblock or intersection
crosswalks are installed at uncontrolled locations (i.e., where no traffic
signals or stop signs exist), crossing islands should be considered as
a supplement to the crosswalk. They are also appropriate at signalized crossings.
If there is enough width, center crossing islands and curb extensions can
be used together to create a highly improved pedestrian crossing. Detectable
warnings are needed at cut-throughs to identify the pedestrian refuge area.
This kind of facility has been demonstrated to significantly decrease
the percentage of pedestrian crashes.2 The
factors contributing to pedestrian safety include reduced conflicts,
reduced vehicle speeds approaching the island (the approach can be
designed to force a greater slowing of cars, depending on how dramatic
the curvature is), greater attention called to the existence of a pedestrian
crossing, opportunities for additional signs in the middle of the road,
and reduced exposure time for pedestrians.
Curb extensions may be built in conjunction with center crossing islands
where there is on-street parking. Care should be taken to maintain bicycle
access. Bicycle lanes (or shoulders, or whatever space is being used
for bicycle travel) must not be eliminated or squeezed in order to create
the curb extensions or islands.