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Federal Highway Administration Research and Technology
Coordinating, Developing, and Delivering Highway Transportation Innovations

This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-05-108
Date: July 2006


Lesson 12: Midblock Crossings

The picture shows a mid-block pedestrian crossing with continental crosswalk marking and an in-roadway warning sign. A pedestrian crossing sign is also posted at the edge of the street on a pole.

Lesson Outline

  • Pros and cons of midblock crossings.
  • Advantages of using medians with midblock crossings.
  • Design considerations for using medians with midblock crossings.
  • Where midblock crossings should be allowed.

Where To Use Midblock Crossings

  • Long distances between intersections.
  • Churches.
  • Schools.
  • Hospitals.
  • High pedestrian activity locations.

Advantages of Using Medians

  • Allow more frequent gaps.
  • Reduce conflicts.
  • Concentrate pedestrians crossings in one central location.
  • Cost less to build and maintain.

Potential Issues with Midblock Crossings

  • High-speed suburban roadways create challenging conflicts.
  • Motorist do not expect midblock crossings.
  • Motorist do not always yield at midblock crossings.

Uses of Midblock Crossings

  • Local roads.
  • Collector roads.
  • Arterials with four lanes.
  • Arterials with six or more lanes.

Design Considerations for Using Medians

  • Connection of desired locations.
  • Lighting.
  • Use of same techniques as in lesson 10 (various crosswalk types, signs, signals and markings).
  • Staggered/offset crossings.
  • Detection.

Design Considerations for Using Medians

1) Midblock crossing curb extensions provide better visibility for motorists and pedestrians. In this figure, two lanes of traffic are moving in each direction, divided by a landscaped median. There is a bike lane and a lane for parallel parking on the far outsides of the street in both directions. At a midblock crossing point, with a continental-style crosswalk pattern and lit by street lights, there is a curb extension which juts out to the end of the parking lane, not restricting the bike lane. This allows for pedestrians to have a shorter crossing distance across the roadway.

2) This photo shows a two-lane road with a curb extension and a crosswalk with no signal or intersection nearby.

  • Curb extensions to reduce crossing distance.
  • Width:
    - 2.4 m (8 ft) desirable.
    - 0.6 m (2 ft) minimum.
  • Ramps may be needed.
  • Drainage.

Pedestrian Crossing Examples

1) In this illustration, there is a four-lane roadway divided in the middle by a landscaped median. From the left side of the road, a midblock crossing extends to the median, shifts diagonally downward, and continues straight across the other half of the roadway to the curb on the right side of the figure, forming a Z shape. This configuration causes pedestrians in the median to turn their bodies toward the oncoming traffic in whichever direction they are walking, helping to make them more aware of the oncoming vehicle traffic.

2) An underpass continues this shared use bicycle path beneath a four-lane highway with high traffic volume. In this photo, a child rides a bike through a wide underpass that leads to a trail. The road over the underpass is a four-lane highway with heavy traffic.

Sources: Southeast Neighborhood Traffic Management Plan, Vancouver, WA, and Bicycle Facilities Guide: Types of Bicycle Accommodations.

Lesson Summary

  • Midblock crossings can be an effective part of the overall pedestrian network.
  • Midblock crossings can be created by using simple designs and logical guidelines.



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