Crossing the Street

People cross the street at a marked crosswalk in California.The street crossing experience comes down to the behavior of the pedestrian and the motorist as well as the design of the intersection or crossing. The behavior of motorists (whether, and how, they stop for a pedestrian) is influenced by a variety of factors, including the speed at which they are traveling. A motorist traveling at a slower rate of speed has more time to see, react, and stop for a pedestrian than someone who is going fast. The number of pedestrians walking may also influence the motorist—in general, more people walking raises motorist awareness of the likelihood of a pedestrian crossing the street.

This section focuses on the physical and design details that influence street crossings. Some general principles for good crossings include:

  • The fewer lanes, the better: Reducing the amount of exposure a pedestrian experiences will generally reduce the likelihood of a collision.
  • Reduce the likelihood of multiple threat collisions: When there are two lanes traveling in one direction, install a stop bar to encourage motorists to stop back far enough from where the pedestrian crosses to see if one motorist is not going to stop.
  • Where possible install a median island so that the crossing can be split into two.
  • Restrict parking in advance of all legal crosswalks.
  • Check that lighting is adequate at crossings.

Learn more:

Improve crossing visibility

Where to install marked crosswalks

Improvements to marked crosswalks

Improving signs and/or lights or signals in advance of or above the crosswalk

Enforce pedestrian laws

Install or improve traffic signals

Considerations for overpasses and underpasses

Improving visibility at crosswalks