In the fall of 2013 the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), acting at the request of City Manager Troy Schulte, undertook a process to evaluate the City’s current policies and procedures for marking and maintaining crosswalks. BPAC research best practices, heard from City staff, and received input from the public.
The committee found that existing policy was informal and inadequate, and that crosswalk marking was underfunded. For example, painted crosswalks need annual re-painting, yet only 20% of intersections were being repainted each year. A final report with findings and recommendations was issued in May of 2013.
The City Manager implemented the major recommendations by including funding for a new Public Works crew dedicated to crosswalk marking in the 2014-15 budget. That crew is now hard at work upgrading crosswalks to the highly visible “ladder” or “continental” style. They are focusing their early efforts on crosswalks in areas with high pedestrian traffic, adjacent to transit routes, and near schools.
Kansas City, MO Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Crosswalk Marking Policy Recommendations, May 2013
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS.
- Fully fund the crosswalk marking program, including a four person crew.
- Adopt the “ladder” or “continental” style as the city’s standard crosswalk design, and prioritize its implementation in key pedestrian zones.
- Improve the transparency of, and access to, the city’s crosswalk policies and data.
The City conducts an annual crosswalk inventory. Painted crosswalks last six months, while thermoplastic crosswalks last several years. Currently, an average of 500-700 crosswalks need to be repainted twice each year. This number should decrease over time as painted crosswalks are converted to thermoplastic during the annual overlay program.
Funding and backlog
The currently budgets about $100,000 per year for the crosswalk marking program. This only allows for about 20% of crosswalks to be repainted each year, resulting in a five year backlog. When a crosswalk lasts for six months, but must wait five years to be repainted, the result is a significant safety risk with un-maintained crosswalks.
City staff indicated that a four person crew is needed to maintain crosswalks at the proper six month repainting interval.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) allows three types of crosswalks: Standard parallel stripes, continental or ladder style, and diagonal stripes. The latter two provide increased visibility over the first. Diagonal is not currently used in the City. Ladder style is used in limited applications near schools and in areas with high pedestrian crash rates.
Members of the public expressed a very strong preference for the greater visibility of the ladder style crosswalk.
There appears to be no formal policy concerning how close/far from schools the ladder style is used, nor any any crash thresholds that would trigger ladder styles in other locations.
The current Public Works Traffic Operations Manual includes very little guidance on crosswalks, and is not publicly available.
Colored or stamped crosswalks raise special concerns for low-vision individuals. They have been used on Main Street as pilot project.
According to Public Works Staff, standard crosswalks cost $600-700 intersection. Ladder style crosswalks cost $5,000 per intersection. When thermoplastic is used instead of paint, the higher up-front cost of ladder style crosswalks can be spread out over several years.
The City’s crosswalk inventory and list of upcoming crosswalk markings are only available upon request. It is unclear to the public how to make that request.
- Fully fund the crosswalk marking program and a four-person crew to implement it. The City will never catch up on the current backlog without more funding.
- Policies and standards
- Adopt the ladder style crosswalk as the city-wide standard.
- Prioritize implementation of new ladder style crosswalks in areas of high pedestrian activity, such as business districts, shopping areas, transit routes, parks, and school sites.
- Develop a policy that prohibits or regulates colored or stamped crosswalks, especially in areas of high pedestrian activity, transit usage, etc.
- Publish the Traffic Operations Manual on the Public Works web site
- Publish the annual crosswalk inventory on the Public Works web site
- Publish the annual crosswalk repainting list in the Public Works web site
- Make all inventories and repainting lists available both as lists and maps on the Publie Works web site, and as data sets in the City’s data portal.
FUNDING AND FURTHER STUDY
The committee identified some potential funding sources that could be tapped to pay for staffing and materials.
- Dedicating a portion of red light camera tickets
- Future speed camera tickets
- Adding an additional charge to parking tickets, speeding tickets, etc.
Public input identified several additional areas of concern beyond crosswalk marking. The committee will continue to gather input and discuss these issues, and it will bring additional recommendations forward in the future.
- Law enforcement – a perceived lack of enforcement of existing laws to protect pedestrians in crosswalks.
- Education and encouragement programs to raise awareness of traffic laws and encourage compliance.
- Traffic signal timing that discourages walking or encourages jaywalking.