Miami-Dade Pedestrian Safety Project: Phase II
CHAPTER 6 PHASE II CONCLUSIONS
6.1 LESSONS LEARNED
6.1.1 Lessons Learned: Overall Project Success
The project was successful in demonstrating the ability of a local government/ university team to develop a data based plan to improve pedestrian safety, focusing on higher-injury areas, and then to implement and evaluate this plan. The positive aspect of the program was the focus on low cost innovative engineering improvements to address pedestrian crashes in each corridor. It also provided an opportunity for the Miami-Dade team to take a cooperative approach with FHWA and the other two teams to identify best practices in pedestrian safety.
Because Miami-Dade had the previous experience with the NHTSA project that emphasized education and engineering countermeasures, the Miami-Dade team was well positioned to continue these extensive measures and to build on them to implement a complete multifaceted triple E program with heavy emphasis on Engineering, Education and Enforcement.
The focus on low cost engineering provides a model of what is possible in the absence of a large corridor wide engineering project. The Florida Department of Transportation often implements corridor wide safety projects that involve large scale improvements. These projects typically produce large benefits for all road users. In this project rather meager resources were utilized to produce large changes in 8 corridors that lead to significant crash reductions.
The federal funding was extremely helpful and appreciated as was the enhancements provided by FDOT and Miami-Dade County that assisted us in demonstrating the effectiveness of targeted low cost improvements.
6.1.2 Crash Reductions
The most important lesson learned was that inexpensive pedestrian safety engineering measures could produce a very significant reduction in crashes when introduced on top of an existing public education and enforcement program focusing on pedestrian safety. The installation of the engineering countermeasures on top of the NHTSA education and enforcement efforts lead to a reduction of 51 crashes per year for all sites. This represents a 50% reduction over the baseline condition and a 41% reduction from the NHTSA project levels. Because we selected high crash corridors and the crash reduction was so large, the overall reduction in our 8 corridors represented a 6.5% reduction in all crashes on State and County roads in Miami-Dade County.
6.1.3 Lessons Learned from Experimentation
A number of lessons were learned from the experimentation conducted as part of this study and the results have been published in four papers in Transportation Research Record. Additional papers will be submitted for publication this year.
Highlights of Research Results
- That the probability of a pedestrian violation at midblock signals is a joint function of perceived risk and wait time. Reducing wait time leads to very high levels of compliance.
- That the in street pedestrian sign is best placed close to the crosswalk, and that no advantage is gained by installing multiple signs.
- That pedestrian push buttons that confirm the press lead to more pedestrians pressing the button and more pedestrians that press the button waiting for the WALK indication.
- That the rectangular LED rapid flash beacon is associated with high levels of yielding on multilane high volume roads during the day and night.
- That the electronic NRTOR signs lead to fewer pedestrian conflicts with vehicles turning right-on-red and that more drivers who violated first came to a full stop, while many during baseline initiated free flow right turns on red.
- That eliminating permissive left turns reduces conflicts between pedestrians and left turning vehicles. It was also learned that many pedestrians attempt to cross during the vehicle protected phase before and after the no permissive left turn treatment was introduced and some drivers violate the no left turn signal just after the end of the protected left turn phase. It is recommended that a lagging protected left turn condition be considered instead of leading protected left turn condition.
- That the “Turning vehicles yield to pedestrians “ symbol sign appeared no more effective than the conventional test message sign.
6.1.4 Lessons Learned: Implementation
- Coordinating improvements with other agencies, especially FDOT was of critical importance to the success of this project.
- We were fortunate to have the full involvement of FDOT District 6 and Miami-Dade County senior staff.
Developing and implementing a comprehensive pedestrian safety plan requires a long time frame. This project took over six years, including almost two years for planning, two years for design/procurement/approvals, and two years for implementation and evaluation. However, this time frame was partly the result of several hurricanes that damaged equipment and lead to a long-term backlog in installation schedules because of the extent of the damage to the traffic infrastructure that needed to be repaired. We were also delayed getting as-built plans because of new Homeland Security requirements.
- It was critical having a dedicated and highly competent pedestrian bicycle coordinator who had good relationships with all members of the team and was able to serve as a catalyst in getting things done. This project would have been difficult to achieve without his support.
- There are a wide range of pedestrian safety countermeasures available that can be tailored to specific location characteristics. A package of such measures can reduce vehicle/pedestrian conflicts, increase driver yielding, and bring about other changes in driver and pedestrian behavior that were associated with crash reductions.
- Particularly cost-effective countermeasures appear to be: countdown pedestrian signals; push buttons that confirm the press; rectangular LED rapid flashing beacons; reducing minimum green time; advance stop lines; and the use of a lead pedestrian phase.
- Low-cost but effective measures have the advantages of quick implementation and the potential to draw support and funding for further improvements.