At stoplights, pedestrians experience longer delays while cars are given priority

Jan 09, 2014

How long is too long to wait for the light to change? At stoplights, pedestrians often experience longer delays while cars are given priority.

To design that serve the needs of walkers, planners must understand the motivations behind pedestrian behaviors.

Working with professors Kelly Clifton and Christopher Monsere, Sirisha Kothuri of Portland State University created a survey designed to shed some light on what makes decide to follow, or not follow, traffic laws.

To collect data, Kothuri and a team of graduate students armed with an 11-question survey posted themselves at four different intersections in northeast Portland, Ore.

Two of the intersections had recall signals, where pedestrians are automatically detected, and the other two had actuated signals, where pedestrians must press a button to get the light to change.

Survey respondents were asked for their attitudes about delay in signal timing, and for the reasons that determined their crossing the street.

Responses showed that pedestrians were more content with delay in situations where they were automatically detected, and less satisfied with delay in situations where they were required to press a button to trigger the signal. At times pedestrians were uncertain whether the button had been pressed, leading researchers to propose a solution of giving visual or auditory feedback to indicate the signal had been activated.

Survey respondents overall indicated that safety was a more important factor in crossing the street than signal compliance. Perceptions of safety vary from person to person, but in general, when pedestrians perceived that it was safe to cross the street, they would cross—in some cases, signal or no signal.

Researchers also found that pedestrians walking alone were generally more cautious about safety than those walking in groups.

Explore further: Jaywalking not worth the risk, expert says

More information: The paper, " Insights into Pedestrian Attitudes and Perceptions of Delay, Safety, and Crossing Decisions at Signalized Intersections," is available here: otrec.us/files/14-4229_Revised.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Jaywalking not worth the risk, expert says

Dec 16, 2013

The hectic holidays may have many looking to save a few extra minutes wherever they can be found, but a University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says one seemingly small action—jaywalking—should be ...

Over 270,000 pedestrians killed each year

May 02, 2013

More than 270,000 pedestrians are killed on the world's roads each year, the World Health Organisation said Thursday, slamming decades of neglect in favour of vehicle transportation.

Seeing red: Why cyclists ride through traffic lights

Mar 26, 2013

You've probably seen it happen. You're driving your car and you come to a stop at the traffic lights. You're mindful of traffic infringement fines and public safety, then someone on a bike rides past you, ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

tadchem
not rated yet Jan 09, 2014
The science of regulating traffic signals is complex. It depends on the speed, direction, and density of traffic in all directions, which vary widely and sometimes unpredictably. It also depends on the objectives of the regulation process - safety, smooth flow, and minimizing waste of fuel are not always compatible.
Adding pedestrian traffic to the mix only complicates the problem.

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...