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A vibrant Seattle through transportation excellence Interim Director, Goran Sparrman

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Marked Crosswalks

Marked crosswalk

Overview
Evaluation Process
How to Request a Marked Crosswalk

Overview

Marked crosswalks are used to raise driver awareness of pedestrian crossings and direct pedestrians to preferred crossing points.

SDOT's marked crosswalk policies are based upon national guidelines. The most significant factor is the characteristics of the roadway itself. Features such as the number of lanes that pedestrians must cross, the proximity of the location in question to existing traffic signals, and the number of pedestrians who cross the street consistently at that location all help to answer the fundamental question that we ask: "Will a marked crosswalk benefit pedestrians?"

Legal pedestrian crossings exist at every intersection, unless otherwise signed. A marked crosswalk normally indicates a preferred pedestrian crossing point. A preferred location is the safest place for a pedestrian to cross. This may be a location where lighting or visibility is best or where the potential for pedestrian-vehicle conflicts is lowest. A marked crosswalk is also the location at which most pedestrians naturally find themselves crossing. For a crosswalk to be useful, drivers must expect pedestrians at that location.

It is therefore important that both sides of a marked crosswalk have a strong connection to a destination or destinations towards which pedestrians are already heading. A marked crosswalk, in and of itself, does not increase safety nor reduce vehicle speeds. Rather, it is the channeling of pedestrians to a common location that raises driver awareness of a crossing.

We generally find that on multi-lane roads (three or more lanes) a marked crosswalk alone, without an accompanying traffic signal, will do little to improve driver compliance or pedestrian safety. One of the main reasons is the risk of a multiple threat collision, a situation in which a driver in one lane stops for a pedestrian, but the driver in the next lane does not. We find that on busy streets the most beneficial improvements are either a reduction in the number of vehicle lanes or the installation of a traffic signal.

Evaluation process:

The evaluation process takes into account proximity to other forms of traffic control, visibility and characteristics of the crossing location, number of people crossing, and available gaps in traffic. Should the location appear to be a candidate for a marked crosswalk, SDOT will perform pedestrian counts. In general, we like to see at least twenty people crossing the street in a typical hour before a marked crosswalk is installed. This number contributes greatly to drivers becoming accustomed to seeing, and stopping for, pedestrians.


How to Request a Marked Crosswalk

Please e-mail WalkAndBike@Seattle.gov or call the Pedestrian Program at 206-684-7583. It is important that you provide the exact location, the number of lanes in the roadway, and as much information as possible about the nature of the concern.


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