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Pedestrian signals

Pedestrian signal heads should be used at all signals where pedestrians are permitted to cross unless pedestrian volumes are extremely low. The use of WALK/DON’T WALK pedestrian signal indicators at signal locations are important in many cases including: when vehicle signals are not visible to pedestrians; when signal timing is complex, e.g., there is a dedicated left turn signal for motorists; at established school zone crossings; when an exclusive pedestrian interval is provided; and, for wide streets where pedestrian clearance information is considered helpful.

The international symbol pedestrian signal head is preferable and is recommended in the MUTCD; the "WALK" and "DONT WALK" word message is an allowable alternate. Pedestrian signal heads should be clearly visible to the pedestrian at all times when in the crosswalk or waiting on the far side of the street. Larger pedestrian signal heads can be beneficial in some circumstances. Signals may be supplemented with audible messages to assist trained visually impaired pedestrians. These should be used judiciously, because they can become a noise problem.

This countdown signal in Cambridge, MA indicates to pedestrians the amount of time they have available to cross.

The material provided on this page is from the FHWA publication "Pedestrian Facilities User Guide." This guide is currently under review by practicioners and others in the field. Subsequently, the material provided on this page is subject to change in the future.

traffic signals

upgrade / modify pedestrian signal timing

traffic signal enhancements

pedestrian signals

right turn on red

recessed stop lines

add / modify signing

Pedestrian signals (from MUTCD)


• Indicates appropriate phase for pedestrians to cross.

• Provides pedestrian–only phases in a cycle.


• Ensure signal heads are visible to pedestrians.

Estimated Cost:


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