The Effects of Traffic Calming Measures on Pedestrian and Motorist Behavior

Source: Highway Safety Administration

Traffic calming treatments may benefit pedestrians who are crossing the street by slowing down vehicle traffic, shortening crossing distances, and enhancing motorist and pedestrian visibility. The objective of this study
is to evaluate the effects of selected traffic calming treatments, at both intersection and mid-block locations, on pedestrian and motorist behavior.

"Before" and "after" data were collected in Cambridge, MA (bulbouts and raised intersection), Corvallis, OR (pedestrian refuge island), and Seattle, WA (bulbouts). Data were also collected at "treatment" and "control"
sites in Durham, NC (raised crosswalks), Greensboro, NC (bulbouts), Montgomery County, MD (raised crosswalks), Richmond, VA (bulbouts), and Sacramento, CA (bulbouts). The key findings include:

(1) Overall vehicle speeds were often lower at treatment sites than at control sites.
(2) The combination of a raised crosswalk with an overhead flasher increased the percentage of pedestrians for whom motorists yielded. It is not known what part of the improvement was attributable to the raised
crosswalk and what part was attributable to the flasher. None of the other treatments had a significant effect on the percentage of pedestrians for whom motorists yielded.
(3) The treatments usually did not have a significant effect on average pedestrian waiting time.
(4) Refuge islands often served to channelize pedestrians into marked crosswalks. The raised inter- section in Cambridge also increased the percentage of pedestrians who crossed in the crosswalk.

In conclusion, these devices have the potential for improving the pedestrian environment. However, these devices by themselves do not guarantee that motorists will slow down or yield to pedestrians.

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