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Office of Planning, Environment, & Realty (HEP)

Summary of Federal Highway Administration Pedestrian and Bicycle Research and Program Activities

Prepared for TRB 2002

Staffing Changes

Research Projects

NOTE: For information on all research projects, contact Ann Do at 202-493-3319, or, or see

Contract Research Studies

1. Hazard Index for Assessing Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety at Intersection

Introduction and Background:
The need for research to develop new tools to mitigate the loss from pedestrian- and bicycle-motor vehicle crashes is well founded. The annual number of fatalities in the U.S. resulting from these collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians and bicyclists has been around 7,500 for some time, accounting for approximately 15 percent of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. (NHTSA, 1998). Many more injuries are not reported to record-keeping authorities. A study by Stutts, et al. (1990) showed that fewer than two-thirds of bicycle-motor vehicle crashes serious enough to require emergency room treatment were reported on State motor vehicle files. Recent HSRC research for FHWA presented in Accident Analysis and Prevention corroborates such findings for both bicyclists and pedestrians (Stutts and Hunter, 1999).

Around 40 percent of pedestrian collisions occur at intersections, and an additional 8 percent at driveway or alley intersections (Hunter, Stutts, Pein, and Cox, 1996), and a variety of factors play a role, including pedestrian age, width of the crossing, street corners with large turning radii permitting higher motor vehicle speeds, and misunderstanding of pedestrian signals (Zegeer, 1991). Hunter, Stutts, Pein, and Cox (1996) also found that intersections are present in half of bicycle-motor vehicle collisions. Related factors include age of bicyclist, motor vehicle speeds and traffic volumes, provision of auxiliary right turn lanes, and other designs which lead to weaving between bicycles and motor vehicles.

The main objective of this research is to develop hazard indices that will allow planners, engineers, and other practitioners to easily identify features, or combinations of features, at intersections that place pedestrians and bicyclists at risk. By then developing user-friendly guides to get the information in the hands of practitioners, the indices can be used to identify hazardous locations. Specific countermeasures can then be implemented to reduce certain types of hazards. Intersection indices should also be helpful in influencing future intersection design, as well as accommodating the needs of pedestrians with disabilities.

2. Evaluation of Safety, Design & Operation of Shared Used Paths

Shared use paths, as defined by the 1999 American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities (AASHTO Bike Guide), are "facilities on exclusive right-of-way and with minimal cross flow by motor vehicles" (1). Shared use paths also are sometimes referred to as bicycle paths or multi-use trails. They are most commonly designed for two-way travel and, even when not, will be used for two-way travel unless precautions are taken. Shared use paths are used for both utilitarian and recreational purposes. These facilities' users include various types of bicyclists, skaters, and pedestrians and have become increasingly popular among these groups. The resulting mix and increase in volume of nonmotorized traffic can lead to conflicts, creating congested and dangerous conditions for all users.


3. Identification of Alternative Methodologies for Collecting Pedestrian Exposure & Crash Data

The need for timely and useful data on pedestrian exposure was identified as a high priority at the Joint NHTSA/FHWA Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Strategic Planning Workshop held in April 2000. The objective of this study will be to identify the best methods for collecting and analyzing both pedestrian exposure and crash data. Currently, very limited information is available on where, when, and how much people walk. Without this type of information it is difficult to determine the relative risks associated with various pedestrian activities, subsequently take steps to improve pedestrian safety, and measure the effects for these improvements. This endeavor will also support the efforts of the DOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Team to coordinate its activities.


4. Characteristic of Emerging Road and Trail Users

There are a number of newer or emerging users of our nation's roadways and trails who may have characteristics that affect the design requirements and safety performance of these facilities. These include persons using in-line skates, scooters, strollers, electric bicycles, adult tricycles, recumbents, tandems, trailers, golf carts, and assisting technologies such as electric scooters and motorized wheelchairs. In addition, the level of experience of the users impacts their operational characteristics on our roadway and trail facilities. Transportation facility planners and designers have little knowledge of these emerging road users' operational and design characteristics.

Also, currently very little is known regarding these users' crash experience either on trails or along roadways. For example, data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission show that in 2000, hospitals reported more than 33,000 scooter-related emergency room visits and two fatalities. Unfortunately, these hospital reports provide little detail regarding the type or condition of the facility on which the crashes occurred or the preceding actions of the involved person(s).

The objectives of this study are:

  1. to determine the characteristics of these newer types of road and trail users that may affect facility design, operation, and safety;

  2. to investigate the safety of these users in the environments in which they operate; and

  3. to consolidate this information in a usable format for individuals responsible for the planning, design, operation, and maintenance of pedestrian and bicycle facilities.

In-House Research

1. Comparison of Pedestrian Crossing Signals Study
FHWA researchers conducted this study during early 2001 in the Signsim laboratory at Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center. Forty-eight subjects were recruited from the FHWA subject pool to participate in the study. Half were male, half were female. Six experimental pedestrian crossing signals and the standard MUTCD crossing signal were tested and compared, for a total of seven pedestrian crossing signals, for ease of understanding and comprehension. Of the six experimental signals, the Countdown pedestrian crossing signal resulted in the highest understanding and comprehension rates, i.e., high rates of comprehension about when the signal told the pedestrian to start crossing and how much time he or she had in which to cross. The standard MUTCD crossing signal resulted in one of the lower rates of understanding and comprehension, with some confusion occurring about the meaning of the flashing hand when it appears simultaneously with the walking person symbol. The results of this study indicated that further research should be conducted on the Countdown pedestrian signal.

2. A Comparison of Pedestrian Countdown Signal Timing Phases Study
FHWA researchers will conduct this study during early 2002 in two phases. The first phase will consist of researches collecting video data and feedback in the field at a number of Countdown signalized intersections in the Northern Virginia area. The field research will gather data on motorist and pedestrian behaviors at the intersections, and feedback about comprehension from pedestrians who have just completed crossings at these intersections. The intersections of interest are located in Alexandria, Ballston, and Fairfax. The second phase will consist of laboratory testing a Countdown crossing signals, demonstrating six different signal timing strategies concerning the Walk, Cautionary and Don't Walk phases. Each of the six experimental Countdown timing strategies will be compared against the standard MUTCD pedestrian crossing signal to determine pedestrians' rates of comprehension and response times. The outcome of this study should consists of a set of recommended guidelines for design of a standard MUTCD signal that incorporates the Countdown feature.

3. In-Pavement Crosswalk Lighting Studies
FHWA researchers have begun preliminary field data collection concerning an in-pavement crosswalk lighting installation that will occur in Arlington, VA at Memorial Bridge in early 2002. Researchers have already captured preliminary video data to determine the scope of what will be required for the before data collection at this location. The preliminary data have established that crosswalk markings and related signing at this location are not readily perceived by motorists at this location, and that pedestrians have to cross multiple lane that feed in and out of a traffic circle located at the Arlington entrance to the bridge. Findings from the before data collection will be summarized and discussed with FHWA highway research engineers. Following installation, FHWA researchers will collect after data at 3 month, 6 month, and 13 month intervals. FHWA researchers will also conduct laboratory evaluations later in 2002 of in-pavement crosswalk lighting systems to determine comprehension requirements, luminance requirements, etc. This research should result in the development of design guidelines for transportation engineers.

Program Efforts

  1. Technical Advisory (T5040.35) on Rumble Strips - The full text of the Technical Advisory can be found at

  2. Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access Part 2, Best Practices Design Guide. This is the second part of a research study investigating how to apply the Americans with Disabilities Act to pedestrian facilities. FHWA Administrator Mary Peters signed a memorandum issuing this document as FHWA guidance for designing and constructing accessible pedestrian facilities. This report is available on the web at Part 1 is available on the web at

  3. Designing Pedestrian Facilities for Accessibility Course. This course is being developed to provide technical assistance in designing sidewalks, street crossings, and signals to meet the requirements of the ADA and related regulations. It will be taught in modules and will last up to 2 days depending on the number of modules taught. Contact Barbara McMillen at 202-366-4634 or at

  4. Pedestrian Facility Design Training Course. FHWA is developing a new pedestrian facility design course under the auspices of its National Highway Institute. Using the concept of universal design, the course will provide technical information for pedestrian facility designers.

  5. Bicycle Facility Design Training Course. FHWA is developing a new bicycle facility design course under the auspices of its National Highway Institute. The course will use the AASHTO Guide for the Development of Bicycle Facilities as the base document, and will present techniques for designing facilities for bicyclists.

  6. The Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety and Accommodations Training Course. In conjunction with NHTSA, this existing 3 day survey course is being updated and revamped. The course material is being updated. The course length is being rethought. Finally, the delivery mechanism of using the traditional classroom setting is being weighed against using either that method and/or an online mode.

  7. The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC) provides on site technical support to the agencies of the USDOT, technical assistance to State and local professsionals, and a comprehensive website at It is a valuable resource for individuals seeking technical information on all pedestrian and bicycle issues. Contact Andy Clarke at 202-366-4071 or at

  8. FHWA's Human Environment Pedestrian and Bicyclist Website can be found at This site contains program guidance, technical information, and publications relating to FHWA's Program.

  9. Federal Aid Funding for Bicycle and Pedestrian Projects. FHWA tracks annual funding by the States and metropolitan areas on bicycle and pedestrian projects using Federal transportation dollars. These are stand alone bicycle and pedestrian projects that are not included in the scope of other larger transportation projects:

    Fiscal Year Amount in Millions of Dollars
    1991 17.1
    1992 22.9
    1993 33.7
    1994 112.6
    1995 178.6
    1996 197.1
    1997 238.8
    1998 216.5
    1999 204.2
    2000 296.7
    2001 339.1

  10. FHWA's Recreational Trails Program is working with the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, other Federal agencies, and through American Trails and other nonprofit trail organizations to support the National Trails Training Partnership, which is a clearinghouse for all kinds of training for all kinds of trails. See FHWA also is making many US Forest Service publications available to the public. See for a list of publications. More RTP information is available at

  11. Rails-with-Trails Study. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), FHWA, and NHTSA have each contributed funding to develop a report: Rails-with-Trails: Lessons Learned / Literature Review, Current Practices, Conclusions. The contractor, Alta Transportation Consulting, has posted a draft report at

  12. Updates to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), when they occur, can be found at The Millennium Edition has been published and updates are expected on an annual basis.

  13. A Public Engineering Outreach Campaign is being developed to improve the behavior and performance of highway users. This will be done by focusing on those highway-related issues that a motorist and a pedestrian have control over: improved user practices and compliance with traffic control devices. Campaign materials will be developed by fall 2002 and could be piloted tested in 2003/4. See contact information below.

  14. Pedestrian Safety Engineering and Intelligent Transportation System-based Countermeasures will be deployed in local jurisdictions to evaluate their effectiveness in reducing pedestrian fatalities, injuries, and conflicts. Phase 1 of the Cooperative Agreement develops a plan addressing pedestrian safety problem identification and countermeasure selection within the chosen locality. Phase 2 is optional at the discretion of the Government and consists of implementing the plan. The intent of the Cooperative Agreement is (1) to demonstrate the effectiveness of the pedestrian safety program plan in reducing pedestrian fatalities, injuries, and conflicts, and (2) demonstrate the plan's portability to other jurisdictions within the United States. Problem Identification will be completed in 2002 with field testing and evaluation to be completed between 2002-2005. At present, we are working with two communities - Miami Dade and Las Vegas. See contact information below.

  15. Pedestrian Safety Countermeasure Selection System focuses on the development of an expert system database containing details associated with crashes between motor vehicles and pedestrians. With the expert system, safety practitioners can generate potential countermeasures to address problems identified in their local jurisdiction. This effort will be beta tested in the spring of 2002 and released in fall 2002. See contact information below.

  16. The Bicycle and Pedestrian University Graduate Course will be finalized by Spring 2002. The course teaches future professionals how to integrate pedestrian and bicyclists accommodations into the planning and design of transportation facilities. The university course covers an extensive range of issues in nonmotorized transportation design, including pedestrian and bicyclist crash types and related safety countermeasures, pedestrian accommodation at intersections, traffic calming techniques, and bicycle facility design. It is hoped that the professors would integrate the course materials into their curriculum, and/or offer it as a stand alone graduate course. See contact information below.

  17. National Educational Curriculum for Bicyclists: This curriculum was developed for all ages and levels of cyclists. The curriculum identifies the skills and knowledge that bicyclists of different ages need to have and match these needs to already existing resources. The curriculum consists of a matrix targeting audiences that are the focus of various bicyclist training programs and a resource catalog designed to assist users in identifying relevant training materials under recommended topics for the target audiences. A web page is being developed that will be housed on the page. The Web page will include the curriculum, an interactive database, and a good practices guide for those designing their own courses. The Good Practices Guide, which tells of several successful bicycle safety education programs and tips for implementing your own program, will be available in hard copy by March. The curriculum and associated products will be housed on the web page by February. See contact information below.

  18. Pedestrian/Bicyclist Safety Website contains information on how to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety in communities across the nation. Included in the website is information on facility design, planning, guidelines, good practices, and tools to aid in countermeasures development. Website address:

  19. Safer Journey - Interactive Pedestrian Safety Awareness CD-ROM (FHWA-SA-00-009) is an Award winning interactive CD that takes the user through various pedestrian safety scenarios. It has been developed to improve the level of pedestrian knowledge for all road users and safety practitioners. The CD-ROM activity areas include the Journey, the Quiz, and a library of resources. This CD-ROM can be included in State/local community pedestrian awareness materials. It is online at See contact information below.

  20. Brochures: Contact information below*

    "A Walkable Community", FHWA-SA-00-010
    "Everyone is a Pedestrian" - series of 5 brochures, FHWA-SA-01-001, FHWA-SA-01-002, FHWA-SA-01-003, FHWA-SA-01-004, FHWA-SA-01-005
    "Everyone is a Pedestrian" - Spanish versions, FHWA-SA-00-001, FHWA-SA-00-002, FHWA-SA-00-003, FHWA-SA-00-004,
    "Be Safe, Be Bright" - poster on retroreflectivity, FHWA-SA-01-011

* For additional information or to order the completed resources please check the website at; contact Leverson Boodlal at 202-366-8044, e-mail:; or Tamara Broyhill at 202-366-4077, e-mail:

Updated: 10/20/2015
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