Pedestrian Safety Guide and Countermeasure Selection System

Resources and Guidelines

Recommended Guidelines/Priorities for Sidewalks and Walkways


These guidelines were developed in an FHWA report entitled Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations.(1) This report may be found here. In developing these proposed U.S. guidelines for marked crosswalks and other pedestrian measures, consideration was given not only to the research results in this study, but also to crosswalk guidelines and related pedestrian safety research in Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden (see references 2-8).

Marked crosswalks serve two purposes: (1) they tell the pedestrian the best place to cross, and (2) they clarify that a legal crosswalk exists at a particular location.

Marked crosswalks are one tool to get pedestrians safely across the street. When considering marked crosswalks at uncontrolled locations, the question should not simply be: “Should I provide a marked crosswalk or not?” Instead, the question should be: “Is this an appropriate tool for getting pedestrians across the street?” Regardless of whether marked crosswalks are used, there remains the fundamental objective of getting pedestrians safely across the street.

In most cases, marked crosswalks are best used in combination with other treatments (e.g., curb extensions, raised crossing islands, traffic signals, roadway narrowing, enhanced overhead lighting, traffic-calming measures, etc.). Think of marked crosswalks as one of a progression of design treatments. If one treatment does not adequately accomplish the task, then move on to the next one. The failure of one particular treatment is not a license to give up and do nothing. In all cases, the final design must address the goal of getting pedestrians across the road safely.

Guidelines and Caveats

Marked pedestrian crosswalks may be used to delineate preferred pedestrian paths across roadways under the following conditions:

  1. At locations with stop signs or traffic signals. Vehicular traffic might block pedestrian traffic when stopping for a stop sign or red light; marking crosswalks may help to reduce this occurrence.
  2. At non-signalized street crossing locations in designated school zones. Use of adult crossing guards, school signs and markings, and/or traffic signals with pedestrian signals (when warranted) should be used in conjunction with the marked crosswalk, as needed.
  3. At non-signalized locations where engineering judgment dictates that the number of motor vehicle lanes, pedestrian exposure, average daily traffic (ADT), posted speed limit, and geometry of the location would make the use of specially designated crosswalks desirable for traffic/pedestrian safety and mobility. This must consider the conditions listed below.

Marked crosswalks should be supplemented with other treatments (i.e., without traffic-calming treatments, traffic signals, and pedestrian signals when warranted, or other substantial crossing improvement) when any of the following conditions exist:

  1. Where the speed limit exceeds 64.4 km/h (40 mi/h).
  2. On a roadway with four or more lanes without a raised median or crossing island that has (or will soon have) an ADT of 12,000 or greater.
  3. On a roadway with four or more lanes with a raised median or crossing island that has (or will soon have) an ADT of 15,000 or greater.

Street crossing locations should be routinely reviewed to consider the following available options:

The spacing of marked crosswalks should also be considered so that they are not placed too close together. A more conservative use of crosswalks is generally preferred. Thus, it is recommended that in situations where marked crosswalks alone are acceptable that a higher priority be placed on their use at locations having a minimum of 20 pedestrian crossings per peak hour (or 15 or more elderly and/or child pedestrians per peak hour). In all cases, good engineering judgment must be applied.

Marked crosswalks should not be installed in close proximity to traffic signals, since pedestrians should be encouraged to cross at the signal in most situations. The minimum distance from a signal for installing a marked crosswalk should be determined by local traffic engineers based on pedestrian crossing demand, type of roadway, traffic volume, and other factors. The objective of adding a marked crosswalk is to channel pedestrians to safer crossing points. It should be understood, however, that pedestrian crossing behavior may be difficult to control merely by the addition of marked crosswalks. The new marked crosswalk should not unduly restrict platooned traffic, and should also be consistent with marked crosswalks at other unsignalized locations in the area.

Other Treatments

In addition to installing marked crosswalks (or, in some cases, instead of installing marked crosswalks), there are other treatments that should be considered to provide safer and easier crossings for pedestrians at problem locations. Examples of these pedestrian improvements include:

Some of these traffic-calming measures are better suited to local or neighborhood streets than to arterial streets:


  1. Zegeer, C., J. Stewart, and H. Huang, Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations, Report No. FHWA-RD-01-142, FHWA, Washington, DC, May 2001.
  2. Safety of Vulnerable Road Users, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), August 1998.
  3. Ekman, L., Pedestrian Safety in Sweden, Report No. FHWA-RD-99-091, FHWA, Washington, DC, December 1999.
  4. Hummel, T., Dutch Pedestrian Safety Research Review, Report No. FHWA-RD-99-092, FHWA, Washington, DC, December 1999.
  5. Pedestrian Safety: Analyses and Safety Measures, Danish Road Directorate, Division of Traffic Safety and Environment, Copenhagen, June 1998.
  6. Van Houten, R., Canadian Research on Pedestrian Safety, Report No. FHWA-RD-99-090, FHWA, Washington, DC, December 1999.
  7. Cairney, P., Pedestrian Safety in Australia, Report No. FHWA-RD-99-093, FHWA, Washington, DC, December 1999.
  8. Davies, D., Research, Development, and Implementation of Pedestrian Safety Facilities in the United Kingdom, Report No. FHWA-RD-99-089, FHWA, Washington, DC, December 1999.