Central areas are often separated by roads which diminish the aesthetic for shops, customers and residents. On one hand crosswalks facilitate the road crossing, on the other hand they force pedestrians to detours and produce increased emissions due to stop-and-go-traffic of motor vehicles. Recently experiments with central areas without crosswalks are taking place; crossings occur in general under mutual respect. The research project demonstrates the conditions and limits of central areas without crosswalks.
To define the suppositions and limits of central areas without crosswalks; evidence the lacks of knowledge as a base for future research themes.
The research comprised of 5 stages:
- research of existing literature,
- formulation of theses,
- selection of suitable sample central areas,
- technical and psychological analysis traffic-wise of the samples,
- testing of the theses and formulation of recommendations.
Situations with and without pedestrian crossings were analysed in 5 central areas of differing size.
These include single-lane and double-lane road sections with and without a multi-purpose lane in the middle of the road. In one central area it was possible to test the same space with and without pedestrian crossings. The samples analysed had roads with an average daily flow of 5,300 to 17,300 vehicles and with speeds of v85% in the region of 30 to 44 km/h. In the 30 to 150 m long sections observed, the number of crossing pedestrians varied from 100 to 730 per hour. The speed limit was generally 50 km/h and in one case 30 km/h. Apart from one exception, no bigger contingent of one particular type of user, such as children or elderly people, was registered. During the search for sample locations it was noted that areas without pedestrian crossings occur mostly in connection with reshaping of roads which are accompanied by intensive information campaigns.
Generally there occur less confrontations between pedestrians and drivers in situations without pedestrian crossings. A more prudent behaviour of pedestrians and a more intensive communication between all involved was observed. Based on observations of the meeting of crossing pedestrians with vehicles, the constancy of moving traffic increases in situations without pedestrian crossings. This statement was proven also at higher traffic volume using measured journeys. In situations without pedestrian crossings, a slight increase of the average waiting time for crossing pedestrians was observed. No relation to the amount of moving traffic could be proven.
A poll of pedestrians showed that pedestrian crossings are generally regarded as safe opportunities for crossing and seem to be desired also by a majority in areas where they do not exist. The Association for Pedestrian Mobility and the Association for the Disabled are of the opinion that central areas with high traffic level and without pedestrian crossings would not constitute a suitable solution, as children, the elderly and disabled would find it difficult to cross the road. The majority of drivers are of the opinion that pedestrian crossings are not preventing accidents and not necessary in the areas that were analysed.
Study of the encounters of pedestrians and vehicle operators in the transport area, published in "Verkehrsssicherheit in practice", and "FWHürlimann BvHebenstreit"; traffic engineering and safety analysis of road sections - Psychological, BFU.