A variety of traffic signal enhancements that can benefit pedestrians
and bicyclists are available. These include automatic pedestrian detectors,
providing larger traffic signals to ensure visibility, placing signals
so that motorists waiting at a red light can’t see the other
signals and anticipate the green, and installing countdown signals to
provide pedestrians with information about the amount of time remaining
in a crossing interval.
Countdown signals may be designed to begin counting down at the beginning of the walk phase or at the beginning of the clearance (flashing DON’T WALK) interval.
Since pedestrian pushbutton devices are not activated by about one-half of pedestrians (even fewer activate them where there are sufficient motor vehicle gaps), new "intelligent" microwave or infrared pedestrian detectors are now being installed and tested in some U.S. cities. These automatically activate the red traffic and WALK signals when pedestrians are detected. Detectors can also be used to extend the crossing time for slower moving pedestrians in the crosswalk. Automatic pedestrian detectors have been found to improve pedestrian signal compliance and also reduce pedestrian conflicts with motor vehicles. However, they are still considered experimental and their reliability may vary under different environmental conditions.5
More information on some of these technologies is available online at www.walkinginfo.org/pedsmart. This web site was developed in 1999 and includes information on several types of smart technologies, the problems they may address, and the vendors of the devices. Locations where many of the devices were installed at that time are also included as case studies.