Common questions about crosswalks


What are PBOT's crossing guidelines based on?

Portland Bureau of Transportation's staff follow best practices to support safety for street users.

Current crosswalk guidelines stem from three publications:

PBOT also referred to work by the City of Boulder, Colorado, when creating the crossing guidelines.

How does PBOT decide when to evaluate an existing crosswalk?

In addition to maintaining existing crosswalks, PBOT evaluates crosswalks to see if they need enhancements. PBOT evaluates crosswalks during many capital projects. Engineers also evaluate crosswalks in response to crash data and to requests from the public.

How does PBOT decide when to install a crosswalk enhancement?

The timing for installing crosswalk enhancements varies. Once PBOT staff evaluate a crosswalk and recommend improvements, they add the project to a list containing other needed street improvements. PBOT completes these projects as funding becomes available.

When practical, PBOT makes multiple improvements to street locations at the same time. Grouping projects together minimizes traffic disruption and costs. For example, PBOT improved crosswalks on SE Division Street. while also reconstructing the street surface in 2013.

Why doesn't PBOT mark all crosswalks?

In some cases, simply marking crosswalks can decrease safety for people walking. Figure 1 shows that crash rates are higher at marked crosswalks compared to unmarked crosswalks on streets with high traffic volumes and more than two lanes of auto traffic. Additional safety elements, such as curb extensions, pedestrian islands and rapid flashing beacons, are generally needed to improve safety on these types of streets.

As a general rule, PBOT does not mark crosswalks on low-volume, two-lane streets. Figure 1 shows that there is no safety benefit for crosswalk markings on this type of street. PBOT marks crosswalks at traffic signals.

Figure 1. Crash rates involving people walking across various crossing types

What are examples of crosswalks that PBOT has installed using the guidelines?

PBOT tailors crosswalks to their locations. These three examples show how this happens.

Multi-lane with high speeds and traffic volumes: SE Division Street and 127th Avenue.

People walking across a marked crosswalk with flashing beacons

Rapid flashing beacons, curb extensions, signage, advanced stop bars, continental ("zebra") striping and a pedestrian island help ensure that people can cross SE Division Street safely.

Neighborhood greenwayN Chautauqua Boulevard and Kilpatrick Street

A person walking across a marked crosswalk with a pedestrian island

A pair of continental crosswalks, pedestrian islands and signage increase visibility for people walking along N Kilpatrick Street, a part of the North Portland Connector neighborhood greenway. PBOT gives neighborhood greenways special consideration during crosswalk treatment evaluations.

Low-traffic residential street: SE Taylor Street and 36th Avenue (unmarked crosswalk)

People walking across an unmarked crosswalk

PBOT generally does not mark crosswalks on streets with low traffic volumes (fewer than 4,000 vehicles per day).

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