Safety Benefit of Raised Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Areas

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Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Safety Benefit of Raised Medians and Pedestrian Refuge Areas, FHWA-SA-10-020, (2010) This document is an excellent summary of the safety benefits of medians for pedestrians, pedestrian access to transit stops, pedestrian crossing maneuvers, as well as benefits of medians in general. It includes several references that will be useful as well. It is of significant value to the AMM2 chapters and sections on impacts of access management techniques and pedestrians. Key findings are reproduced below.

“Providing raised medians or pedestrian refuge areas at pedestrian crossings at marked crosswalks has demonstrated a 46 percent reduction in pedestrian crashes.

At unmarked crosswalk locations, pedestrian crashes have been reduced by 39 percent. Installing raised pedestrian refuge islands on the approaches to unsignalized intersections has had the most impact reducing pedestrian crashes. Raised medians and pedestrian refuge islands allow pedestrians to cross one direction of traffic at a time. This significantly reduces the complexity of the crossing. Raised medians and refuge islands provide a space to install improved lighting at pedestrian crossing locations. Improved lighting has been shown to reduce the nighttime pedestrian fatalities at crossings by 78 percent. Raised medians and refuge islands also reduce the amount of delay incurred by pedestrians waiting for a gap in traffic to cross. Shorter delays translate into fewer pedestrians taking risks by crossing through “holes” in the traffic stream. On a four-lane roadway with 5,000 ADT, medians can reduce pedestrians’ delay waiting for a gap by 79 percent (from 41 seconds to 9 seconds).” “Medians are especially important at transit stops. Transit stops are frequently located along busy arterials at uncontrolled crossing locations. Providing medians can make these crossings safer and more appealing to existing and potential transit users.

Raised medians provide additional benefits above and beyond reducing pedestrian crashes.

Raised medians: • Have been found to reduce motor vehicle crashes by 15 percent. • Decrease delays (>30 percent) for motorists. • Have resulted in increase in capacity (>30 percent) of roadways. • Have been shown to reduce vehicle speeds on the roadway. • Provide space for landscaping within the right-of-way. • Provide space to install additional roadway lighting, further improving the safety of the roadway. • Provide space to provide supplemental signage on multi-lane roadways. • Can be less expensive to build and maintain than paved medians.”

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