Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons (PHBs) are becoming more popular in use by transportation agencies, proving to be the most useful at mid-block or uncontrolled mainline crossing locations. Often these crossings are being provided on large multilane roadways where there are significant distances between signalized intersections with pedestrian crossings. A more detailed description of the PHB operation can be found here. PHBs have been shown to reduce pedestrian crashes by 69% and demonstrate a motorist compliance of more than 90%. While many factors can determine what type of signal is best for your location, there are a few that are particularly helpful in determining if a PHB is appropriate.
First, consider that a benefit of the PHB when compared to the standard traffic signal is the operation allows for a decreased delay for vehicles. If this is desired at your site, a PHB might be the right choice. The City of Atlanta has a PHB on North Avenue at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which students living or parking on the south side of campus utilize to cross North Ave. This location is also frequently used in the fall on football game days. North Ave is a four-lane section road with an average daily traffic greater than 20,000 vpd. This crossing location has minimal impacts on the delay for the vehicles on North Avenue.
Another consideration is the history of pedestrian accidents along a certain portion of roadway. If the accident rate is particularly high, this could be an area that benefits from a PHB. There are segments of Buford Highway in Atlanta, Chamblee, and Doraville, Georgia that have a total of 11 PHB midblock crossings. Much of Buford Highway is a seven-lane section with mass transit, commercial, and residential apartments along the road frontage, and it serves more than 30,000 vehicles per day. Many of the crossings were identified by pedestrian accident locations between 2000-2009, and crossings were placed along the corridor where pedestrian activities and needs were identified. Additionally, these locations were coordinated with the mass transit system to integrate bus stops and the need for these crossings along the corridor.
Ponce de Leon Avenue in Atlanta is another corridor that was identified by the Georgia Department of Transportation as a corridor with a high pedestrian accident rate. Again, potential PHB locations were identified on the corridor based on accident history or the existing pedestrian crossing mid-block activity. These locations also considered areas that may generate pedestrian activity. For example, a PHB was placed adjacent to a grocery store and an age-restricted apartment facility where many residents cross Ponce de Leon to do their grocery shopping.
The overall pedestrian crossing activity of an area is certainly a strong determining factor for whether a PHB is the right solution. If corresponding destinations are across the street from one another, such as apartments and a grocery store, it’s easy to assume that pedestrian crossing at that location will be high. Gwinnett County in Georgia has two such PHB locations planned soon. One location is on a busy section of Beaver Ruin Road adjacent to residential apartments across from a church and daycare facility. Pedestrians frequently cross mid-block along this road to get to church, take kids to daycare, or to get the nearest bus stop. The County also has plans for a PHB that will serve as a crossing along Killian Hill Road and allow pedestrians and bicyclists using a popular City of Lilburn trail to safely cross this busy section of roadway.
A PHB may be utilized for any variety of reasons. Engineers can help identify nearby trip generators and destinations or simply the need for a safe crossing. The warrant requirements are less stringent than that of a traditional traffic signal, and PHB operation has been proven to be safe for pedestrians while also reducing delay to motorists when compared to traditional traffic signals. All of this combined may make it an attractive solution for your next project.
About Stevie Berryman, PE
Stevie Berryman, PE is a Project Manager for Foresite Group’s Traffic Engineering Division in Peachtree Corners, GA. Stevie graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology with a Master’s degree in Construction Management. In his spare time, Stevie is a coach for a youth travel baseball program.