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Bicycles/Pedestrians

Safety Toolbox: Engineering


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Pedestrian pushbutton treatments

   
At signalized intersections, pedestrian pushbuttons (PPBs) are installed in combination with pedestrian signals that inform pedestrians when to cross.  Various treatments include supplemental signage; tactile, vibrotactile, and auditory features; extended press features; actuation indicators; and internal illumination.  Supplemental signage may include arrows that point to the direction of the crosswalk that is served by the pushbutton, educational signs that explain the meaning of pedestrian signal indications, or street names.  Tactile, vibrotactile, and auditory features are usually intended to provide crossing or intersection information to hearing and/or visual-impaired pedestrians, and may include Braille, vibrating surfaces, or locator tones.  Some PPBs are equipped with extended button press features, which activate other features.  Actuation indicators are intended to encourage pedestrians to wait for Walk signals by providing confirmation of their detection by the signal; such a feature may be integrated into the PPB using flashing LED lights, low frequency beeps, or a recent innovation called the ëbumble bee'.  Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements for PPBs are provided in the June 17, 2002 Draft Guidelines for Accessible Public Rights-of-Way, Section 1106, Accessible Pedestrian Signal Systems.
objective To send information to certain types of traffic control devices regarding the presence of a pedestrian who wishes to cross.  For traffic signals, pedestrian actuation changes signal timing to accommodate pedestrian walk times.  In other cases, pedestrian actuation may activate a device, such as in-roadway warning lights or flashing beacons.  Various treatments may be applied to provide additional information to pedestrians.
applications At locations where there are significant numbers of pedestrians or where actuated signals do not automatically allocate sufficient pedestrian crossing time during all phases unless a pedestrian is present.
target population All Pedestrians All Pedestrians
crash type Pedestrian R/W Violation-Intersection, Pedestrian Violation-Intersection
advantages
  • Provides more information to pedestrians about the operation of the signals.
  • Minimizes delay to vehicular traffic when pedestrians are not present.
  • LED device improves nighttime visibility of the push-button devices
disadvantages
  • Increases cost of construction and maintenance since push buttons suffer from vandalism
pointers The application must include a locator tone and a click sound, which can be used to provide audible acknowledgment for people with visual disabilities. The push buttons must comply with ADA standards.
cost Low to Medium, $400-$1,000 per push button.
responsibility Public Works Department
further reading

Huang, H. and Zeeger, C. An Evaluation of Illuminated Pedestrian Push Buttons in Windsor, Ontario. Federal Highway Administration, Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center, FHWA-RD-00-102, Virginia, 2001.

Bentzen, B.L., and L.S. Tabor. Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Washington, DC:  US Access Board, August 1998.

examples City of Oakland, Public Works Agency; City of Sacramento, Department of Public Works
related tools Accessible Pedestrian Signals, Automated Pedestrian Detection, Educational Signs for Pedestrian Signal Indications, Mid-block Signalized Crossings, Countdown Signals

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