This project was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, a program of TREC at Portland State University (NITC; grant number 1393).
Pedestrian safety is critical to improving walkability in cities. Although walking trips have increased in the last decade, pedestrian safety remains a top concern. In 2020, 6,516 pedestrians were killed in traffic crashes, representing the most deaths since 1990 (NHTSA, 2020). Approximately 15% of these occurred at signalized intersections where a variety of modes converge, leading to the increased propensity of conflicts. Current signal timing and detection technologies are heavily biased towards vehicular traffic, often leading to higher delays and insufficient walk times for pedestrians, which could result in risky behaviors such as noncompliance. Current detection systems for pedestrians at signalized intersections consist primarily of push buttons. Limitations include the inability to provide feedback to the pedestrian that they have been detected, especially with older devices, and not being able to dynamically extend the walk times if the pedestrians fail to clear the crosswalk. Smart transportation systems play a vital role in enhancing mobility and safety and provide innovative techniques to connect pedestrians, vehicles, and infrastructure. Most research on smart and connected technologies is focused on vehicles; however, there is a critical need to harness the power of these technologies to study pedestrian behavior, as pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the transportation system. While a few studies have used location technologies to detect pedestrians, this coverage is usually small and favors people with smartphones. However, the transportation system must consider a full spectrum of pedestrians and accommodate everyone.
In this research, the investigators first review the previous studies on pedestrian behavior data and sensing technologies. Then the research team developed a pedestrian behavioral data collecting system based on the emerging LiDAR sensors. The system was deployed at two signalized intersections. Two studies were conducted: (a) pedestrian behaviors study at signalized intersections, analyzing the pedestrian waiting time before crossing, generalized perception-reaction time to WALK sign and crossing speed; and (b) a novel dynamic flashing yellow arrow (D-FYA) solution to separate permissive left-turn vehicles from concurrent crossing pedestrians. The results reveal that the pedestrian behaviors may have evolved compared with the recommended behaviors in the pedestrian facility design guideline (e.g., AASHTO’s “Green Book”). The D-FYA solution was also evaluated on the cabinet-in-theloop simulation platform and the improvements were promising. The findings in this study will advance the body of knowledge on equitable traffic safety, especially for pedestrian safety in the future.
Li, P., Kothuri, S., Keeling, K., Yang, X. (2023) Pedestrian Behavior Study to Advance Pedestrian Safety in Smart Transportation Systems Using Innovative LiDAR Sensors. NITC-RR-1393. Portland, OR: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC). https://doi.org/10.15760/trec.286