Pedestrian Safety Research

More than 6,000 pedestrians are killed every year on American streets. TREC researchers have worked on hundreds of local, regional and statewide pedestrian and bicycle policy, planning, and design initiatives to address this nationwide issue. At the forefront of this work is a recognition that social inequity plays a strong role in putting people at risk, so equity must be an integral part of any tools developed that are aimed at solving the pedestrian safety crisis.

Enhancing Pedestrian Volume Estimation and Developing HCM Pedestrian Methodologies for Safe and Sustainable Communities (2020)

The objective of this project, NCHRP 17-87 funded by the National Cooperative Highway Research Program and led by Kittelson & Associates with PSU as a partner, is to help jurisdictions identify techniques for efficient and accurate estimation of pedestrian volume and exposure. The research will determine field-observed factors affecting pedestrian flow at the facility levels and integrate those factors into the Highway Capacity Manual (HCM) pedestrian level-of-service (LOS) methodology. The project also seeks to determine how pedestrian safety improvements on the roadway and in signal timing designs (for example: sidewalk extensions, corner bulb-outs, Leading Pedestrian Intervals and associated crash modification factors) should be reflected in the HCM pedestrian LOS. The guidance will also seek to address issues related to pedestrian volume estimation, safety risk exposure, and the relationship between HCM pedestrian LOS measures and pedestrian safety.

Learn more about Enhancing Pedestrian Volume Estimation and Developing HCM Pedestrian Methodologies for Safe and Sustainable Communities. (Publishing soon)

A Comprehensive Examination of Electronic Wayfinding Technology for Visually Impaired Travelers in an Urban Environment (2019)

With the explosion of mobile technology that has affected all other areas of life, it would seem to be a golden age for people living with visual impairments. Like never before in history, blind, deaf-blind, and low-vision individuals can access a plethora of mobile apps offering a range of services to aid in navigation and wayfinding. However, the multitude of apps each address only a segment of mobility needs. This research catalogued the available apps and surveyed users about their needs and experiences, then synthesized the findings to help improve the quality of life for people who experience disproportionate impediments to their mobility. Results stand to help make pedestrian navigation in urban environments a more inclusive experience. The next phase of this project is funded and underway: “Seamless Wayfinding by Individuals with Functional Disability in Indoor and Outdoor Spaces: An Investigation into Lived Experiences, Data Needs, and Technology Requirements.” (due out in 2021)

Learn more about A Comprehensive Examination of Electronic Wayfinding Technology for Visually Impaired Travelers in an Urban Environment.

Improved Safety and Efficiency of Protected / Permitted Right Turns in Oregon (2018)

This research aimed to develop an understanding of the safety and operational implications of using the flashing yellow arrow (FYA) in permitted and protected/permitted right turn (PPRT) operations to maximize safety and efficiency. This report includes a review of more than 50 scientific and technical articles on the selection of right turn phasing alternatives and a review of Oregon crash data at intersections with exclusive right-turning lanes from 2011-2013. The study had three phases: 1) a web-based survey, 2) a microsimulation model, and 3) and a driving simulator study. The survey measured Oregon driver’s comprehension of right-turn signal display. Analysis revealed a general misunderstanding of the required driver response for the steady red arrow signal indication, but comprehension of the FYA for right turns was high.better understand the value of this type of data.

Learn more about Improved Safety and Efficiency of Protected / Permitted Right Turns in Oregon.

Transferability & Forecasting of the Pedestrian Index Environment (PIE) for Modeling Applications (2018)

Researchers had previously created the MoPeD pedestrian demand model as well as a pedestrian index of the environment (PIE) for forecasting pedestrian travel. The PIE index improved the sensitivity of walk trip models by incorporating contextual features of the built environment that affect walking behavior in the Portland, Oregon region. Useful for academic researchers in transportation, this latest research provides a framework for incorporating pedestrian travel behavior forecasts into traditional four-step travel demand models. Since the method was based on Portland, the next step was to adapt the tools for wider use. Researchers tested the walkability measure in Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.

Learn more about Transferability & Forecasting of the Pedestrian Index Environment (PIE) for Modeling Applications.

Walking While Black: Racial Bias At the Crosswalk (2017)

The research team conducted a field experiment where black and white male and female pedestrians wore identical clothing and repeatedly crossed the same intersection in Portland, Oregon, with coders in the field marking drivers’ behaviors. The initial study found that black male pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and waited nearly a third longer to cross than white male pedestrians. The second phase of the research examines how additional factors, such as gender, affect drivers’ stopping behaviors at crosswalks. Based on these results, researchers came up with a set of recommendations for crosswalk design and enforcement to increase drivers’ compliance with crosswalk laws in order to ensure equitable access to a safe pedestrian experience for all.

Learn more about Walking While Black: Racial Bias At the Crosswalk.

Improving Walkability Through Control Strategies at Signalized Intersections (2017)

Pedestrians often have to wait longer than drivers for the light to change. Increased delay for pedestrians can lead to noncompliance, which can have a negative impact on safety. Most planning efforts geared toward those on foot have tended to focus on safety, but pedestrian efficiency is also important. Researchers looked at different strategies for efficiency and identified what the impacts of each strategy were to all users: pedestrians, cyclists, motor vehicles and heavy vehicles. Using that knowledge, they came up with a scale and a guidebook for practitioners on which measures would be best used when, and what sorts of delays to expect for vehicles and pedestrians. They also came up with a new algorithm, a pedestrian priority algorithm.

Learn more about Improving Walkability Through Control Strategies at Signalized Intersections and download the Guidbook on Signal Control Strategies for Pedestrians (PDF).