Safe Street Crossings
Pedestrian Friendly Code Directory: Safe Street Crossings
- Activity Center,
- Block Pattern,
- Street Crossings,
- Traffic Flow
Why is this important?
Pedestrians must be able to cross streets safely. More than 40% of pedestrian fatalities take place where no crosswalk is available. Often, marked crosswalks alone are insufficient to protect pedestrians, and additional infrastructure is necessary to make the crossing safe. In areas with long blocks, or where pedestrians use both sides of the street heavily, crosswalks located both in the middle and at the end of blocks are helpful.
Mid-block crossings can be particularly dangerous because drivers may not anticipate or see pedestrians. Dangerous crossings can be made safer by installing features like signals, signage, crosswalk striping, flashing beacons or pedestrian-activated traffic signals, curb extensions or bulbouts, and median refuges.
There are additional safety considerations for crossings. Ramps and curb cuts leading to crossings should feature high-contrast detectable warning strips to alert pedestrians, particularly those who may be vision-impaired, that they are approaching traffic. Bus stops should be located after crosswalks so that transit riders crossing the street for a bus stop won’t be hit by a bus, and so that stopped buses don’t block drivers’ view of pedestrians in crosswalks.
Aurora’s code calls for mid-block pedestrian crossings. It appears in the context of a series of provisions providing for safe crossings at intersections and mid-block locations. Those provisions include a hierarchy of crosswalk treatments, signage requirements, and other features.
The code section here specifies that curb extensions, or bulbouts, should be considered to increase the safety of mid-block crossings where there is heavy use by pedestrians and bicyclists, particularly where blocks are long, and retail or other attractions line both sides of the street. However, because of the particular dangers to pedestrians of multilane mid-block crossings, Aurora’s code discourages such crossings except where there is a signal.
The code from Kansas City, MO calls for mid-block crossings for blocks longer than 900 feet. The code specifies that crossings should be 10 feet in width, but provides for no other safety features. While this code is an important start, it is likely to leave popular crossing spots unregulated, and does not specify steps to ensure that mid-block crossings are safe
Pedestrian ways or crosswalks not less than ten feet in width shall be provided near the center and entirely across any block which is 900 feet or more in length where deemed essential in the opinion of the city plan commission to provide adequate pedestrian circulation or access to schools, shopping centers, churches, parks or transportation facilities. At the time of preliminary plat approval, this requirement may be modified in an instance where this access is adequately served otherwise.
Mid-block crossings with curb extensions should be considered at locations where a substantial number of pedestrians or bicyclists attempt to cross streets regardless of the presence of protection or identification of the crossing. These circumstances typically occur in locations with pedestrian attractions on both sides of a roadway, in areas with a combination of street-facing retail shops and on-street parking, and the presence of long blocks (i.e., blocks of 600-feet or greater). Mid-block crossing will only be applied to limited locations and will be analyzed on a case by case basis. Multilane un-signalized controlled mid-block crossing should be avoided.