Civilising Pedestrian Road Crossing Facilities
D Halden, Derek Halden Consultancy, UK
More considereation of the social and environmental context is needed in locating pedestrian crossings. This research in Scotland identifies some of the most important parameters which need to be considered in more detail.
In the UK, zebra, pelican, toucan and other pedestrian crossing facilities each have a place in giving pedestrians priority over vehicles. Current road standards define the choice of type of crossing in terms of vehicle and pedestrian speeds and flows. In Scotland, West Lothian Council have been a leader in the development of Safer Routes to School, 20mph zones, home zones, and other methods of civilising centres where people live, work and play. In order to identify a suitable policy for pedestrian crossing consistent with the principles of DfT guidance but building in more social and environmental constraints a survey programme has been undertaken of pedestrian and vehicle behaviour at pedestrian crossings.
Of particular interest has been the re-emergence of zebra crossings as a preferred crossing type in town centres in parallel with other traffic calming and streetscape measures to civilise the road environment for pedestrians. However this new policy is not universally popular and the research needed to consider the prospects for 47 zebra crossings where there was concern about the effectiveness of the facilities.
The research used video surveys to examine walking, cycling and driving behaviour in various situations. This allowed travel times to be assessed including pedestrian and vehicle delays at different traffic flows in different settings.
Pedestrian behaviour is complex and varies by people group, so the research has identified the operation of different crossings crossing to understand problems faced by user group. For example pedestrian behaviour at zebra crossings on busy roads shows that some cautious walkers wait for other walkers to step on to the crossing and follow behind these pedestrian leaders.
The research has looked at gap acceptance behaviour taking account of vehicle speeds to identify which users rely on support from signals and other facilities before having confidence to cross roads.
Road casualty statistics in the location of the crossing have also been reviewed but revealed little about safety at the crossing facilities considered due to the low numbers of accidents.
Association for European Transport