Chet Skwarcan is an award-winning engineer, writer, and industry innovator in the field of traffic engineering. He is known for leveraging his creativity, logic, and technology to solve today’s engineering challenges.

Do You Need a Crosswalk?

 When determining the need for a pedestrian crosswalk, there are many considerations to take into account, including:

  1. Pedestrian volume: This refers to the number of pedestrians who are expected to use the crosswalk on a regular basis. High pedestrian volume is one of the key factors that can show a need for a crosswalk, particularly at busy intersections or near schools and other destinations where many people walk such as a mid-block.
  2. Vehicle volume: This refers to the number of vehicles that are expected to use the road where the crosswalk would be located. Heavy vehicle traffic can make it difficult for pedestrians to cross the street safely, so a crosswalk may be necessary to provide a designated space for pedestrians to cross.
  3. Roadway characteristics: The layout and design of the roadway can also be an important consideration. For example, if the road is wide and has multiple lanes of traffic, it may be more difficult for pedestrians to cross without a crosswalk. Similarly, if there are no sidewalks on one or both sides of the road, a crosswalk may be necessary to provide a safe space for pedestrians to walk.
  4. Sight distance: It is important to consider the visibility that both the pedestrian and the driver have. The presence of visual obstruction such as trees, bushes or buildings can decrease the visibility and increase the risk for collisions.
  5. Speed limit: The posted speed limit also play a role in determining the need for a crosswalk. Higher speed limits can make it more difficult for vehicles to come to a stop in time to avoid hitting pedestrians, so a formal crosswalk may be needed to identify a pedestrian crossing and help slow traffic.
  6. Nearby land use: this can also be an important factor. It can be that there are a lot of shops, malls or residential buildings that increase the pedestrian volume and hence show the need for a crosswalk.
  7. Safety record: if there is a history of crashes involving pedestrians at a particular location, it may be necessary to install a crosswalk to increase safety for pedestrians. When appropriate, crosswalk visibility is enhanced through the use of lighting, signage, “raised” crosswalk design, or pedestrian activated strobes.
  8. Community input: Community members may have insights about pedestrian needs and safety concerns in their neighborhood, so it can be important to consider their input when making decisions about crosswalk installation.

It’s also important to note that different municipalities may have different guidelines and regulations about the installation of pedestrian crosswalks and different criteria for determining the need for a crosswalk.

Chet Skwarcan (traffic engineer, author, unique insights) with over 25 years of traffic engineering experience —