Pedestrians form the backbone of any urban community. As such, an essential component of creating walkable, livable cities is guaranteeing the safety of pedestrians, so they can move around their surroundings safely and with confidence.
While crosswalk safety is a major concern for many cities around the world, as pedestrians, we often take for granted the safety features that give us peace of mind when crossing busy intersections. It is essential to remember that not all crosswalks are created equal; some are safer than others. One critical safety measure that can make a significant difference in intersection safety is the crosswalk bollard. In this post, we’ll examine what these bollards are, their benefits, and how they fit into urban design and municipal traffic control strategies.
What are crosswalk bollards?
Crosswalk bollards are vertical posts or pillars designed to increase crosswalk safety at light-controlled intersections. They are placed near crosswalks and integrate with walk signals, showing pedestrians when it is safe to cross. Crosswalk bollards typically feature lit caps that display green or red to indicate whether pedestrians should cross or wait, and are often constructed from durable but flexible materials such as polyurethane. This helps prevent damage to the bollard and lowers the risk of injury to pedestrians and vehicles, as the bollard bends upon impact and then bounces back to its original position.
When correctly implemented, crosswalk bollards are an essential safety measure to alert drivers and pedestrians of the crosswalk’s location, decreasing the likelihood of accidents or injuries at intersections.
Pedestrian safety concerns
Pedestrian accidents are a global problem, with fatalities on an upward trend. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 270,000 pedestrians die annually due to traffic accidents worldwide. In the United States alone, 6,516 pedestrians were tragically killed in 2020 from such accidents.
Accidents involving pedestrians can occur for many reasons, such as distracted driving, failure to yield to pedestrians, and speeding. While these accidents are often due to poor driving habits, distracted pedestrians can also contribute to their occurrence. With the growing use of smartphones and other mobile devices, pedestrians may be more likely to become distracted while crossing roads, increasing their chance of missing traffic signals or vehicles. These factors put pedestrians at greater risk of being hit in high traffic areas.
How crosswalk bollards enhance crosswalk safety
Crosswalk bollards are designed to improve pedestrian safety at intersections by acting as a physical barrier between the sidewalk and roadway, and alerting people when it is safe to cross the street. Here are some ways crosswalk bollards can enhance safety for pedestrians:
- Increased visibility: Crosswalk bollards are typically equipped with lights or reflective material, making them highly visible and easier for drivers and pedestrians to spot. This makes everyone in the crosswalk more aware of their environment, potentially decreasing accidents.
- Physical barrier: Crosswalk bollards are a physical reminder of the transition between sidewalk and roadway, triggering pedestrians to pause and look before crossing. They also protect the corner from cars driving onto sidewalks, which can prevent accidents.
- Traffic calming: Crosswalk bollards can also act as a form of traffic calming, slowing traffic and making drivers more aware of their environment, which reduces the risk of accidents, making the street safer for all users.
Some higher-tech versions of intersection bollards, such as Reliance Foundry’s R-6101 crosswalk bollard, can be installed at any intersection with pedestrian crossing lights. Cities can easily integrate the bollards with the walk signals to display red or green lights, alerting pedestrians to when it is safe (or not) to cross. In addition, due to their lower sightlines (more in line with cell phones, children, and pets), these cap lights make it easier for distracted pedestrians to notice traffic changes. Reflective tape and glass reflectors also add visibility, both for cars and pedestrians alike, by reflecting car headlights back onto themselves and other objects around them.
Crosswalk bollards are one of many traffic control devices that can be utilized to enhance intersection safety. When combined with other elements like traffic signals, road markings, and speed limit signs, crosswalk bollards create a more secure and efficient system for pedestrian crossings that improves safety without compromising on style.