Optimizing Pedestrian Safety: New Data on Mid-Block Crosswalk Usage by City Size and Region

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Nearly three-quarters of pedestrian deaths occur away from intersections, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report.

Fortunately, mid-block crosswalks paired with other safety enhancements are proven to save pedestrian lives.

Mid-block crosswalks are marked crosswalks that are away from intersections and have no traffic control devices. They allow pedestrians to get where they want to go more efficiently by providing safe crossing opportunities mid-block, which is vital for areas near schools, parks, public transportation stops and more.

However, there was a clear lack of data-driven insights about where mid-block crosswalks are most commonly used and what safety enhancements they are typically paired with. TAPCO tackled this problem by partnering with The Caney Group LLC, a Connecticut-based market research firm, to conduct a comprehensive research survey of 120 traffic engineers and public works employees across the country.

The firm combined the survey data with secondary data from the U.S. Census Bureau, NHTSA and American Public Transportation Association (APTA), created regression models and analyzed the results. The research uncovered the popularity of mid-block crosswalks varies by city size and region, as well as the most popular type of safety solution being used.

Mid-block crosswalks by city size (per 10k people)

Popularity of Mid-Block Crosswalks by City Size

 Mid-block crosswalks are most popular in medium-sized cities (100,000 to 199,000 people), which have an average of 1.469 mid-block crosswalks per 10,000 citizens.

Small cities (35,000 to 99,000 people) and large cities (200,000 to 999,000 people) have 1.031 and 1.023 per 10,000 citizens, respectively.

This is likely due to larger cities having more controlled intersections, and sometimes even dedicated pedestrian thoroughfares, to accommodate greater population density.

Small cities, on the other hand, may not have as much pedestrian traffic, which reduces the need for mid-block crosswalks. Medium-sized cities have a healthy mix. Fortunately, medium-sized cities are often excellent candidates for federal and state grants, of which there are many.

Popularity of Mid-Block Crosswalks by U.S Region

Mid-block crosswalks also vary in popularity by region, with the Northeast taking a strong lead at nearly 1.5 per 10,000 citizens, according to the study.

In the South, there are 1.126 per 10,000 citizens, followed by 1.058 in the Midwest and 1.048 in the West.

Because Northeastern cities tend to have older infrastructure and greater population density, they may have more vehicle and foot traffic on roads, increasing the need for mid-block crosswalks.

The Northeast also has well-established roads and routes, so true mid-block crosswalks void of any traffic control devices are more prevalent.

While the western part of the country still has plenty of places for pedestrians to cross, they may simply be at other types of crossings, such as major-minor road intersections with a controlled stop on the minor road.

Mid-block crosswalks by U.S. region (per 10k people)

Expected change in LED solution usage in two years

Most Popular Category of Solutions

There are many low-tech and high-tech pedestrian crossing safety solutions that work well at mid-block crosswalks, and several use LEDs to increase visibility. Attention-grabbing and low-maintenance, LED solutions safeguard pedestrians, particularly when they need it most: at night and in poor weather conditions.

According to the study, two out of three survey respondents expect their cities to increase the amount of LED traffic systems at mid-block crosswalks in the next two years, and that amount is even higher in the Northeast.

The West, however, is already ahead of the pack, with 52 percent of surveyed cities and towns already using LED solutions at mid-block crosswalks. In addition, LED technology is favored most by small cities, where maintenance resources may be stretched the thinnest.

Overall, awareness of and interest in available LED pedestrian safety solutions are high.

Mid-block crosswalks paired with LED safety solutions continue to be a valuable and lifesaving tool for towns and cities across the country. Get started by leveraging available data and identifying mid-block areas in need of pedestrian safety enhancements in your community.

Get more insights in our new white paper on optimizing pedestrian safety >


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