At yesterday’s meeting we hosted Sally Flocks, President and CEO of PEDS, a local pedestrian advocacy group. She presented several detailed options for safe street-crossing treatments that are being used around the country and their respective effects on pedestrian safety. One especially effective and quite new approach is the Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB), which is a set of user-activated LED strobe flashers (similar to that of a police vehicle) and warning signs to be used at mid-block crossings and unsignalized intersections. They are currently being used on an experimental basis as granted by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). A recent study of their effectiveness at causing drivers to yield found that, when they are added to locations that previously had only painted crosswalks, the yielding rate increased from18% to 81%. They are also a relatively inexpensive alternative to traffic signals.
Sally also discussed the activities of her new Safe Routes to Transit Task Force, which is comprised of over 20 transportation professionals from the Atlanta region, including Atlanta Regional Commission, Georgia Department of Transportation, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, MARTA, Gwinnett County Transit, City of Atlanta, and Cobb and Fulton counties. In response to the prevalence of pedestrian crashes in the metro area, the task force seeks to improve pedestrian connections to the region’s transit systems, especially near bus stops. Currently, there are no federal standards regarding the geometry of the roadway, speed, or other physical elements for consideration when citing the location of bus stops. The task force is currently doing research on best practices for bus stop location and mid-block crossings, as well as behavioral responses when walking to and from bus stops. Two student researchers (who are from Georgia Tech and are SfPT members!), Andy McBurney and Josh Levin, are assisting with the research. The end product will be a checklist that can be used by transit agencies when deciding where to locate a bus stop and how to create safe street crossings. For more up-to-date information on the task force, check with the PEDS website or subscribe to their newsletter.