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The National Academies

NCHRP 03-141 [Active]

Guidance on Midblock Pedestrian Signals (MPS)

  Project Data
Funds: $125,000
Staff Responsibility: B. Ray Derr
Research Agency: Texas A&M Transportation Institute
Principal Investigator: Kay Fitzpatrick
Effective Date: 6/16/2021
Completion Date: 9/16/2022

OBJECTIVE

 

The objective of this research is to summarize the effectiveness of midblock pedestrian signal (MPS) installations and propose language suitable for inclusion in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), Part 4 addressing MPS.

STATUS

The project is just underway.

 

TASKS

 

Task 1. Conduct a literature review on MPS and identify locations where they have been installed.

 

Task 2. Evaluate existing MPS installations using discussions with agencies who have several treated sites and analyzing their effects on safety effects.

 

Task 3. Develop language on MPS suitable for inclusion in the MUTCD.

 

Task 4. Document the findings from the research.

BACKGROUND
 
The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) Signals Technical Committee (STC) has reviewed treatments for several types of midblock pedestrian crosswalks that include highway traffic signals or beacons and has recommended a new Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) chapter in Part 4, titled "Midblock Pedestrian Signals" or MPS. The MPS would operate similarly to a standard semi-actuated vehicular traffic control signal at a midblock crossing, except that it would display a flashing RED indication in place of a solid RED indication during the pedestrian clearance interval.
 
The MPS supports “complete streets,” a transportation policy and design approach that calls for roadways to be consistently designed and operated with all users in mind: bicyclists, public transportation users, drivers, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Pedestrians frequently find themselves in a predicament when needing to cross roads to access transit stops, businesses, medical facilities, and residences. Without an easily accessible signalized crossing, they may be uncomfortable crossing with only a crosswalk and sign and pedestrian volumes may not accurately reflect pedestrian demand. Moreover, increases in lower-density “sprawl-like” development mean that these crossings rarely happen in such a concentrated manner as to justify a midblock signal based on conventional signal volume warrants described in MUTCD, Chapter 4C.
 
Guide for Improving Pedestrian Safety at Uncontrolled Pedestrian Crossings [FHWA, 2018] presents alternative treatments such as the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) and the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB). The proposed MPS is intended to further expand the available options to improve safety at midblock crossings, while reflecting modern pedestrian crossing needs and roadway contexts. The MPS concept has been used for more than 40 years in several cities, including Los Angeles, to protect pedestrian crossings, and previous FHWA studies have found this type of operation to have a very high rate of driver compliance.

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