Category: Public Safety
Posted on 18 Sep 2022, 01:21 - Category: Public Safety
Posted on 22 Jun 2022, 12:57 - Category: Public Safety
Posted on 15 Jun 2022, 12:42 - Category: Public Safety
The subject of crosswalk visibility came up in a conversation I recently had with a Bucks County Courier Times reporter. We were talking about the recent pedestrian death while using the crosswalk at N Sycamore St and Silo Drive (read “Sycamore Street Is Popular, But Is It Safe?”). It was suggested that the brick crosswalk (see photo below) is difficult for drivers to see at night.
I’m no expert on the visibility of crosswalks, but the people at the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Texas Transportation Institute are. In 2010, these experts investigated the relative daytime and nighttime visibility of three crosswalk marking patterns: transverse lines (e.g., like the crosswalks on N Sycamore St), continental, and bar pairs (see figure below).
These markings are used in conjunction with signs and other measures to alert road users to a designated pedestrian crossing point. Although the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) contains basic information about crosswalk markings, many municipalities develop practices that are not discussed in the MUTCD.
The following is a synopsis of a “TechBrief” of the 2010 Crosswalk Marking Field Visibility Study.
In this study, participants drove an instrumented vehicle on a route through the Texas A&M University campus in College Station, TX. The route provided an open road environment that included portions in a typical college setting (e.g., sidewalks, buildings, basketball arena) and roads through the agricultural area of the campus, which were more rural in feel. Roadway lighting was present at each of the crosswalk locations. The study vehicle was equipped with instrumentation that allowed the researchers to measure and record various driving performance data. However, the vehicle operated and drove like a normal vehicle.
The detection distances to continental and bar pairs are statistically different from transverse markings. A general observation is that the continental marking was detected at about twice the distance upstream as the transverse marking during daytime conditions (see figure below). This increase in distance reflects 8 seconds of increased awareness of the crossing for a 30-mph operating speed.
Based on the findings from this research, the researchers recommended that municipalities consider making bar pairs or continental the “default” for all crosswalks across uncontrolled approaches (i.e., not controlled by signals or stop signs), with exceptions allowing transverse lines where engineering judgment determines that such markings would be adequate, such as a location with low-speed residential streets.
Posted on 06 Jan 2022, 13:08 - Category: Public Safety
Newtown Township Police are investigating a Fatal Auto/Pedestrian crash, which occurred in the 200 block of N. Sycamore Street (at Silo Drive - which back in early November I labeled "A Dangerous Intersection").
The crash occurred on December 22, 2021 at approximately 11:04 pm. A male was struck while attempting to cross N. Sycamore Street using the crosswalk to catch an Uber with friends.
Recent Significant Pedestrian Incidents reported by police (does not include car-only incidents):
- 12-22-21 11:04pm 200 Block N. Sycamore Street Auto/Ped (In Crosswalk) - Fatal
- 12-16-21 Durham & Sycamore Street Auto/Ped (In Crosswalk) - minor injuries
- 10-22-21 Sycamore & Jefferson, Auto/Ped (Mid-block) – critical injuries
- 09-21-20 Sycamore & Jefferson, Auto/Ped (In Crosswalk) – minor injuries
- 05-04-19 Sycamore & Jefferson, Auto/Ped (Mid-block) - Fatal
Education of Drivers and Pedestrians
At the November 10, 2021, BOS public meeting, I asked Chief Hearn what could be done to improve the unsafe situation at N Sycamore St and Silo Dr. The Chief said “It comes down to educating the public. The public needs to know that they can’t cross outside of a crosswalk. Inside a crosswalk the cars are supposed to yield to them. Additional signage with lighting elements, that runs into an additional cost factor and involves ongoing maintenance and a liability factor if a bulb burns out and it’s not replaced in a timely manner. It’s a managed approach, but I believe education is the best way to go at this point.”
The Chief specifically mentioned that the Police Department will be distributing flyers to local businesses to hand out to customers.
Pedestrian Safety Weeks
I found an interesting discussion in the minutes of the May 26 2010 BOS meeting. At that meeting, the supervisors adopted Resolution 2010-R-9, presented by the Joint Traffic Committee, designating the week of May 28 – June 4 as “Newtown Pedestrian Safety Week”:
“Whereas Newtown Township and Newtown Borough have formed a Joint Newtown Traffic Committee (hereinafter the “Committee”; see below) with a goal to improve pedestrian safety; and
“Whereas, the Committee has outlined a program to educate both drivers and the public on pedestrian safety, especially the meaning of pedestrian crossing signs, through the assistance of our law enforcement officials; and
“Whereas the Committee has determined that improving pedestrian safety and adherence to posted speed limits will ultimately lead to safer streets that will benefit both residents and visitors to Newtown Township.
“Now, therefore, be it: Resolved, the week from May 28, 2010 – June 4, 2010 is declared and recognized as “Newtown Spring 2010 Pedestrian Safety Week.”
“Further, Resolved, the Newtown Township Police Department and Committee will collaborate on a program designed as a combination of education and enforcement, with the goal of raising awareness for both drivers and pedestrians for safety at crosswalks with signed sentinels and for adherence to posted speed limits during the Newtown Spring 2010 Safety Week.”
At the December 8, 2021, BOS public meeting, I proposed that Newtown adopt a similar resolution going forward. I mentioned that a week of educational activities would be more likely to be covered by local media than a one-time distribution of flyers. A Joint Newtown Traffic & Pedestrian Safety Committee" -- if we had one (which we don't - see below) -- could recommend educational and promotional activities for the week.
I would add at least one other suggestion: resurrection of a new version of the Joint Newtown Traffic Committee, which the BOS rejected to do at the July 14, 2021, Board of Supervisors meeting. The new committee should be named "The Joint Newtown Traffic & Safety Committee" so that the focus is safety as well as promoting multi-modal transportation. In fact, back in 2010, this committee made some of the same recommendations as the Chief mentioned above. For more on that, see my Notes for the December 8, 2021, BOS Meeting.
*Tim Szwedo, P.E., P.P., a Senior Project Engineer, notified me in a November 11, 2021, email that when a McDonalds was proposed for the shopping center, a "traffic count for Silo Drive at N. Sycamore Street revealed that 95% of the traffic was turning right at this intersection. The 5% trying to turn left or to cross over to the Sycamore Grill side would cause excessive delays for all traffic and make drivers accept small gaps in traffic which compromises safety. I suggested directing all of the left turns and thru traffic to use Ice Cream Alley to a right turn onto Rt 532 Durham Rd then the left turn and thrus can be made under the safety of the traffic signal at Goodnoes Corner."
Sign The Petition!
I started the "Improve Pedestrian Safety on N Sycamore St" petition on Change.org. If you believe as I do that it's time for the township to step up its efforts to improve pedestrian safety along this stretch of road, then please sign the petition and add comments. The signatures will be presented to the Newtown Board of Supervisors.
Posted on 27 Dec 2021, 01:57 - Category: Public Safety