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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-06-125
Date: November 2006

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Intersection Safety Indices

Final Report

PDF Version (2.25 MB)

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An expert panel meeting was held in Chapel Hill, NC, on April 5–6, 2001, to gather opinions on the most important intersection factors that lead to safety problems for pedestrians and bicyclists. The panel consisted of selected State and local pedestrian/bicycle coordinators, local traffic engineers, FHWA division office representatives, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) liaisons to FHWA, and representatives familiar with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The panel focused primarily on developing a preliminary list of the most important intersection features associated with safety. The results of this meeting helped formulate the work plan and the proposed marketing plan. The panel members also provided input on potential cities for site selection.

HSRC staff visited candidate cities during the spring and summer of 2001 with the purpose of selecting three cities for pedestrian data collection and four cities for bicycle data collection. During the visits, HSRC staff met with the local pedestrian and/or bicycle coordinator or traffic engineer to learn about intersections with a suitable number of bicyclists or pedestrians, available crash data, and other characteristics of intersections that appeared to be good study sites.

Based on key factors such as amount and type of bicycling and walking facilities, number of bicyclists and pedestrians, willingness and eagerness of local contacts to participate, and windows of opportunity (i.e., climate) for videotaping, the following cities were selected as study locations.

Pedestrian Study Cities

  • Miami, FL (23 sites).
  • Philadelphia, PA (22 sites).
  • San Jose, CA (23 sites).

Bicycling Study Cities

  • Gainesville, FL (19 sites).
  • Philadelphia, PA (21 sites).
  • Portland, OR (13 sites).
  • Eugene, OR (14 sites).

These locations included a diverse sample of intersections from the eastern and western parts of the United States, which represented a variety of intersection designs and traffic conditions for use in a comparative analysis. Philadelphia represented an eastern "grid" city and was used for both bicycling and pedestrian studies.

The objective in selecting sites from this set of cities was to select a variety of site conditions to fill a matrix of desired site characteristics. For pedestrian sites, these characteristics included:

  • Type of traffic control (signalized versus stop sign).
  • Number of travel lanes (two lanes, four lanes, etc.).
  • Median type (undivided versus raised median).
  • With and without on-street parking.
  • A range of pedestrian volume and traffic volume.

For bicycle sites, these characteristics included:

  • Traffic speed (high and low).
  • Traffic volumes (high and low).
  • Number of traffic lanes (two lanes and three or more lanes).
  • Bike facilities (bike lanes, wide curb lanes, etc.).
  • Right-turn lane design (shared or exclusive).
  • Left-turn lane design (shared or exclusive).

An additional criterion was that selected intersections should have a sufficient amount of pedestrian or bicyclist traffic to allow for productive collection of observed behavioral data. Although it was clearly not possible to select all combinations of factors because of practical cost constraints plus the non-existence of certain combinations (e.g., very low traffic volumes with multi-lane signalized condition), the final site selection covered a good range of characteristics.

Each pedestrian site consisted of a crossing across a specific leg of an intersection. A bicycle site consisted of an approach to an intersection. At some intersections, two pedestrian crossings or two bicycle approaches were selected for data collection because each had different site characteristics; these counted as two sites. The final site selection consisted of 67 bicycle sites and 68 pedestrian sites.



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