Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System


Center crossing islands allow pedestrians to deal with only one direction of traffic at a time, and can be constructed so that crossing pedestrians are forced to the right to view oncoming traffic as they are halfway through the crossing. Source: - Lyubov Zuyeva (2011)

Source: Designing for Pedestrian Safety Crossing islands can be located at intersections or midblock crossings to help protect crossing pedestrians from motor vehicles. hy and allows pedestrians to avoid conflicts with traffic at street level.
Source: Designing for Pedestrian Safety




Crossing Islands

A crossing island is a median with a refuge area that is intended to help protect pedestrians crossing a multilane road. This countermeasure is sometimes referred to as a pedestrian refuge island. Crossing islands should be considered as a supplement to the crosswalk. They are appropriate at both uncontrolled locations (i.e., where no traffic signals or stop signs exist) and signalized crossings. When installed at a midblock crossing, the island should be supplemented with a marked, high-visibility crosswalk.

The presence of a pedestrian refuge island at a midblock location or intersection allows pedestrians to focus on one direction of traffic at a time as they cross and provides space to wait for an adequate gap in oncoming traffic before finishing the second phase of a crossing. Crossing islands are highly desirable for midblock pedestrian crossings on roads with four or more travel lanes, especially where speed limits are 35 mph or greater and/or where annual average daily traffic (AADT) is 9,000 or higher. They are also a candidate treatment option for uncontrolled pedestrian crossings on 3-lane or 2-lane roads that have high vehicle speeds or volumes.9

The factors contributing to pedestrian safety include reduced conflicts, reduced vehicle speeds approaching the island (when the approach is designed to influence driver behavior), greater attention called to the pedestrian crossing, opportunities for additional signs in the middle of the road, and reduced exposure time for pedestrians.


Crossing islands enhance the safety of pedestrian crossings and reduce vehicle speeds approaching pedestrian crossings. It can be difficult for pedestrians to cross high-volume roadways if the crossing is uncontrolled, if the existing pedestrian signal is short, and/or there is not a safe stopping place in the middle of the roadway. Pedestrians might get caught in the middle of the roadway if the traffic signal changes before they have finished crossing the roadway or motorists do not abide to the crossing.


• The design must accommodate pedestrians with disabilities. Islands should be a minimum of 4 feet wide (preferably 8 feet) and of adequate length to allow the anticipated number of pedestrians to stand and wait for gaps in traffic before crossing.
• The cut-through must include detectable warnings if the island width is at least 6 feet.
• Crossing islands at intersections or near driveways may affect left-turn access.
• Crossing islands at intersections or near driveways may affect left-turn access.
• If applicable, evaluate the impact of the island on bicycle facility design.
• Illuminate or highlight islands with street lights, signs, or reflectors to enhance visibility for motorists.
Curb extensions may be built in conjunction with crossing islands where there is on-street parking.

Estimated Cost

The cost of a median island depends on its size and construction materials. The costs range from $2,140 to $41,170 per island depending on the design, site conditions, and whether the median can be added as part of a utility improvement or other street construction project. The average cost per square foot is approximately $10. The cost for an asphalt island or one without landscaping is less than the cost of installing a raised concrete pedestrian island with landscaping. Costs may be reduced if the island is incorporated into planned roadway improvements or utility work.11

Safety Effects

The installation of pedestrian refuge island can reduce pedestrian crashes by 32%, see NCHRP Research Report 841: Development of Crash Modification Factors for Uncontrolled Pedestrian Crossing Treatments.

Case Studies

Eureka, CA
Las Vegas, Nevada
Fort Pierce, FL
Phoenix, Arizona
Seattle, Washington
Tucson, AZ
Portland, OR
Portland, OR
Naples, FL
Queens, New York
Brooklyn, New York
Eureka, California
Montgomery County, Maryland
Shoreline, Washington
Washington, District of Columbia
Village of Great Neck Plaza, New York
San Francisco, California
Norfolk, Virginia
Phoenix, Arizona