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A methodology to assess pedestrian crossing safety
Olga Basile
Luca Persia
Davide Shingo Usami
Received: 30 April 2010 /Accepted: 3 September 2010 /Published online: 23 September 2010
The Author(s) 2010. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com
The safety level of a pedestrian crossing isaffected by infrastructure characteristics and vehicular and pedestrian traffic level. This paper presents a methodologythat allows assessing the safety level of a pedestriancrossing, regulated or not by traffic light, in an urban areaaccording to the features of the crossing.
A hierarchical structure representing factors influ-encing crossing safety has been developed and the relativecontributions of each factor were calculated using AHPmethod. A composite index for crossing safety and specificindexes for main aspects included in the assessment have been developed.
Main assessment aspects are: Spatial and TemporalDesign, Day-time and Night-time Visibility and Accessi- bility. Night-time Visibility resulted to have the higher weight (about 41%).
Developed indexes allow ranking of pedestriancrossings and assigning intervention priorities, highlightingthe aspects which are to be enhanced. The methodology has been used for the evaluation of 215 pedestrian crossings in17 European cities for the Pedestrian Crossing Assessment Project co-financed by FIA Foundation.
Pedestrian crossing.Safety index.Assessment .AHP
1 Introduction
In 2008, pedestrian fatalities represented 21% of all roadtraffic fatalities in Europe (24 EU Member States).
Although decreasing at European level, in countries likePoland and Romania pedestrian fatalities show an increas-ing trend and a higher percentage of fatalities (up to 35%).According to different studies [12,15], pedestrian accidents occur most frequently at street crossing, andoften, especially for older pedestrians, at pedestrianfacilities like a zebra crossing. A research by FHWA [20]shows that pedestrian crossings are not sufficient to crosssafely, if not integrated with adequate equipment.Many studies can be found about pedestrian accidentscharacteristics [12,19], pedestrian
s and driver 
s behaviour at crossings [3,4,6,9,17] and evaluation of measures enhancing pedestrian crossings safety [7,13]. The safety level of a road element can be assessed inthree different ways [1]: accident frequency or similar,surrogate measures about road user behaviour or opinions by experts or road users.By relating these indicators with a mix of factorsaffecting crossing safety, a model can be developed.In the case of pedestrian crossings, models using roadaccidents are few [20] because of the rarity of pedestriancrashes at a given location. Carter et al [1] developed amodel based on behavioural data and opinions to estimatea pedestrian safety index related to crossings and inter-sections. Other existing models define a safety relatedindex for a generic traffic environment: crossing difficulty[3,10], or level of service of pedestrian facilities [8], or 
of pedestrian environment [2].
O. Basile
L. Persia
D. S. Usami (
Centro di ricerca per il Trasporto e la Logistica,Sapienza Università di Roma,Via Eudossiana,18
00184, Rome, Italye-mail: davideshingo.usami@uniroma1.it 
Source:www.erso.euEur. Transp. Res. Rev. (2010) 2:129
137DOI 10.1007/s12544-010-0036-z
There are several before/after studies that have estimatedthe variation of accident frequency or safety relatedindicators consequent to the introduction of specificmeasures [7,13,18]. However the relationship and the relative importance of many factors and features are stillunclear.This paper presents a methodology that allows assessingthe safety level of pedestrian crossings in urban area basedon an on-site inspection performed using ad-hoc datagathering forms. In detail, the research question relates tohow to assign a safety rate to a pedestrian crossing on the basis of its various features and characteristics in order todefine a priority list of interventions and to suggest whichfeatures need to be improved, as the specific contributionof a crossing feature to pedestrian safety level has beendefined.The approach undertaken consists in: problem definitionand selection of safety evaluation criteria, weighting of criteria, definition of a composite indicator that expressesthe safety level on the basis of crossing features.The proposed methodology has been used for theevaluation of 215 pedestrian crossings in 17 European citiesfor the Pedestrian Crossing Assessment Project co-financed by FIA Foundation.
2 Analysis methodology and main results
2.1 Problem definitionSafety of a pedestrian facility depends on its features andon how it is used (i.e. pedestrian and vehicles trafficcharacteristics).Models existing in literature are based both on traffic and pedestrian volumes information and on pedestrian crossingfeatures, but in many cases traffic data are not available.The chosen approach focuses on safety of a pedestriancrossing, without taking into account existing trafficcomposition and volumes.The risk is therefore not to select for intervention pedestrian crossings that show a high accident frequencydue to higher traffic volumes. On the other hand themethodology permits to identify for intervention pedestriancrossings showing the worst characteristics.A number of factors exist from literature that affecdirectly or indirectly pedestrian crossing safety. The relativeweight of each factor can be defined through opinions by a panel of experts. The problem of finding the specificcontribution of each factor to safety has been solvedapplying Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP) method pro- posed by Saaty [14].This method is generally used to compare different alternatives and evaluating which one is the best to satisfy adefined goal. For the purpose of the paper, AHP has beenused to aggregate different experts
opinions about contri- bution of every factor to safety.A theoretical framework for safety has been definedincluding potential crossing safety related factors/features.Factors and features have been selected by a panel of experts on the basis of their relevance, perceived by the panel, and of results found in literature.Due to significant differences in traffic rules and roadusers behaviour between signalized and not signalized pedestrian crossings, these two scenarios have been treatedseparately.For each scenario the problem has been decomposed intothree hierarchical levels. The first level represents the pedestrian crossing safety composite index.The second level is defined by four macro-criteriacontributing to safety of pedestrian crossings:
Spatial and Temporal Design,
Day-time Visibility,
Night-time Visibility,
Accessibility.The third level contains the assessment criteria related toeach of the four macro-criteria (see not signalized pedestri-an crossings case in Fig.1and signalized pedestriancrossings case in Fig.2).Macro-criteria have been defined grouping identifiedcriteria according to common objectives of good design principles [5,16]. Spatial and Temporal Design macro-criterion takes intoaccount pedestrian exposure to traffic, conflicts and timingfactors to assess the functioning of the crossing for the pedestrian. Included criteria aim at minimizing waiting timeneeded to find a crossing opportunity and time needed tocross safely for all road users, including limitation of trafficexposure, through the reduction of conflict points andsegmentation of crosswalk.Day-time Visibility and Night-time Visibility criteriaevaluate visibility of pedestrians at crossing for motorists,visibility of the pedestrian crossing for motorists, andvisibility of oncoming vehicles for pedestrians.Accessibility criteria account for ensuring proper accessfor all road users, with or without disabilities, to approachthe pedestrian crossing free of obstacles and possibledangers.For each criterion a specific indicator has been identi-fied. Indicators can refer to quantitative measures (e.g.roadway width) or qualitative measures (e.g. visibilityconditions of pavement markings).As different measurement units are present, indicatorshave been re-scaled in order to have a common range (0, 1).A value near to 0 is associated to safer situations, while avalue near 1 is associated to risky situations.
130 Eur. Transp. Res. Rev. (2010) 2:129
For quantitative measures, re-scaling consisted in givinga distance from a reference value or in definition of indicators above or below a threshold. For qualitativemeasures, categorical scales that assign a score to possibleindicator values have been used. Engineering design hand- books and research studies provide conditions for safe andcorrect design of a pedestrian crossing [5,7,11,16]. Selected criteria and related indicators are presented inTable1.2.2 Weighting of criteriaOnce the problem has been defined, AHP has been used tofind a weight for each criterion present in the theoreticalframework.According to this method, in case of a hierarchalstructure with three levels defined by J criteria, M macro-criteria and a goal, it is necessary to evaluate:
The weight 
m j 
of general criterion A
associated togeneral macro-criterion C
The weight w
of general macro-criterion C
contrib-uting to the general goal (safety level).All the weights are calculated by aggregating the resultsfrom a number of pairwise comparison square matrices,where the elements
of a matrix (also called
) represent the prevalence of criterion Ai oncriterion A
in reference to the corresponding macro-criterion/goal. A comparison matrix (like that in Table2)needs to be defined for each of the four macro -criteria andfor the general goal.The prevalence is measured qualitatively using asemantic scale [14] that links a numerical value (from 1to 9) to a judgment expressing a possible result from thecomparison (Table3).A focus group of 15 experts, with previous experiencein infrastructure design, road safety planning andevaluation, has been set up to perform pairwise compar-isons. Each expert assessed the relative importance of criteria individually to avoid possible influence on judgments.Assuming
, with
the weight associated tocriterion j and
the weight of criterion
, the followingare valid:
(Mutuality relation: necessary to guaranteethe symmetry of prevalence judgments)
(Consistency relation)The weights of each criterion have been obtainedaggregating the dominance coefficients of resulting com- parison matrices through the geometric mean, obtaining the
aggregated comparison matrix
Spatial andTemporal Design
Roadway widthPedestrian-vehicles conflictpointsPedestrian refugeislands
Day-time Visibility
Minimumapproach sightdistancePedestriancrossing signsvisibilityPavementmarkings visibilityPedestriancrossing widthTraffic directionsignalization
Night-time Visibility
Light conditionsMinimumapproach sightdistancePedestriancrossing signsvisibilityPavementmarkings visibility
Dropped kerbsTactile pavingPresence ofobstaclesKerb width
Safety level
Fig. 1
Hierarchical structure for not signalized pedestriancrossingsEur. Transp. Res. Rev. (2010) 2:129
137 131

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