Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Crosswalks

We have a problem where cars do not give the right-of-way at crosswalks. They blaze right through unless you are brave enough to stand in the middle and hope for the best. Rarely do they stop and let you pass. You can put up as many signs as you want and they don't do a lick of good. It's not a personal problem of ours. It's a problem that plagues the world.

Here's a video example driving through Melbourne, FL of how no cars stop for the family waiting patiently at the crosswalk. They are clearly visible in this scenario but nobody wants to stop. What is the point of the crosswalk if they have to wait for there to be no cars to cross? And that's the reason people jaywalk (which in itself is a made-up term by car companies in the beginning of the 20th century). Notice the shark teeth too in the road. They are the yield line used in both the US and Europe to inform drivers where they need to yield and give priority to vehicle or pedestrian traffic, usually followed by a yield sign. Nobody yields.





Here's an example of a new car-centric crosswalk in Miami's Brickell District, courtesy of TransitMiami:

Terrible crosswalk in Brickell

The coloring of the crosswalks is not useful towards improved visibility. Pictures below are of our Flagler Drive in Downtown West Palm and especially at night, everything blends together so I made them a single color to highlight this. Notice below the shark teeth pointing out the upcoming crosswalk as well. I don't have big problems with the set up but I have personally run into instances where I am standing for long periods of time and not one car will stop until I start walking into the street. Or sometimes the visibility of coming cars is hard to see. I could say vice versa for the drivers: pedestrians are hard to see amongst vegetation.

Flagler crosswalks problems
Flagler crosswalks problems

Flagler crosswalks problems

Flagler crosswalks problems
Flagler crosswalks problems

Can barely see the next crossing sign up ahead around this curve.

Flagler crosswalks problems

The visibility is also limited to only the yellow sign pointing at it. Cars won't see the pedestrian unless they are actively beginning to walk into the street. If we come up with lit-up flashing signs activated by a button, that might help to get the cars to stop without the pedestrian risking himself.



One solution is quite ingenious: IBM worked with a group of (of course, Dutch) children to come up with easy traffic solutions with simple and pure creativity. Then, working together with Ogilvy & Mather, they created flexible, flashing pedestrian crossings in the Netherlands. They are activated by someone stepping on them and emphasizing the importance of allowing pedestrians to cross. Result: cars immediately stop, at least in the Netherlands. Of course, this works best in the night-time. This would be great as a solution on Flagler Drive here in Downtown. US engineers would say it gives pedestrians a "false sense of security" and they are trying to say drivers here have no respect and they can't do anything about it.

IBM Light-up Crosswalks
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IBM Light-up Crosswalks
IBM Light-up Crosswalks
IBM Light-up Crosswalks

See original video:



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