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This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-11-039
Date: April 2011

Evaluation of Pedestrian and Bicycle Engineering Countermeasures: Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons, HAWKs, Sharrows, Crosswalk Markings, and the Development of an Evaluation Methods Report


This chapter summaries the FHWA report, Pedestrian and Bicyclist Traffic Control Device Evaluation Methods, FHWA-HRT-11-035.(30)

Pedestrians and bicyclists are vulnerable road users when their paths cross vehicular traffic. Traffic control devices are one low-cost safety solution that can be used to better inform, warn, and regulate all road users. FHWA requires evaluations of the effectiveness of traffic control devices that are not in the 2009 MUTCD.(2) When determining whether countermeasures are effective, engineers and planners often rely on anecdotal observations or their professional judgment. In some cases, a limited quantitative safety evaluation is conducted; however, these evaluations are typically limited in terms of scope, experimental design, and statistical rigor. This is often the case because many State and local agencies lack research funds or sufficient knowledge of experimental design and statistics to conduct reliable evaluations of new innovative traffic control devices or other traffic features.

As part of this FHWA project, an evaluation methods report was developed. The report is intended to inform practicing engineers, planners, and public works employees at the local, county, and State levels how to conduct an evaluation of traffic control devices. The guidance provided, though presented in the context of devices associated with pedestrians and bicyclists, can be applied to evaluations of any traffic control device.

The goal of the Pedestrian and Bicyclist Traffic Control Device Evaluation Methods report is to improve the quality of those evaluations conducted as part of the MUTCD request for experimentation process.(30) New traffic control device products and applications are constantly being introduced, and quality evaluations are necessary to prove their effectiveness before widespread adoption. The main body of the report presents basic evaluation method steps for traffic engineers to use. More advanced methods involving crash statistical analysis and human factors studies are described in appendices to be used by consultants or university researchers working with practitioners.

The full report consists of the following chapters:(30)

  • Chapter 1 presents a brief overview of the evaluation process and discusses the use of surrogate safety measures.
  • Chapter 2 provides details on the process used by FHWA to make changes to MUTCD. It discusses the distinction between interpretation and experimentation and details the process to request experimentation.
  • Chapter 3 presents a six-step process for planning an evaluation of a new traffic control device.
  • Chapter 4 presents information on how to conduct the evaluation and includes basic information on sample size and statistical analysis. It focuses primarily on those traffic engineering measures of effectiveness, such as speed and volume counts, that traffic engineers would be familiar with.
  • Chapter 5 describes how to properly document the evaluation effort in a research report.
  • Chapter 6 lists additional resources for practitioners to use to conduct, analyze, and report on evaluations.
  • Appendix A provides an example of the planning process for an actual evaluation of a pedestrian crossing treatment as follows:
    • Planning step 1: Problem identification—What is the safety or traffic operations issue?
    • Planning step 2: Evaluation question—What is the research question?
    • Planning step 3: Measures of effectiveness—How will you assess performance?
    • Planning step 4: Evaluation designs—What is the study approach?
    • Planning step 5: Evaluation methods—How will you measure user behaviors, traffic, or crashes?
    • Planning Step 6: Selecting components to the evaluation plan—How do you balance time, budget, and practicality to execute the plan?
  • Appendix B presents more detailed information on statistical analysis.
  • Appendix C provides additional measures that focus more on human behavior.
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration