Look and Listen: Safer Crossing for Cambridge

Committee: Transportation, Streets, and Sidewalks

Cost: $180,000

Location: To be determined by City staff based on need and impact assessments.

Short Description:  Install pedestrian crosswalk signals that vibrate with audio at 10 locations and rapid flashing beacons at 5 locations in Cambridge. This equipment will provide greater visibility and safety at crosswalks throughout the city.

Long Description: Crossing at designated crosswalks can feel dangerous on busy streets. Many pedestrians seek to cross at busy intersection crosswalks but can struggle to be seen by drivers depending on traffic, car speed, and time of day. These measures will alert pedestrians when it is safe for them to cross and increase the visibility of crossing pedestrians, which will help drivers and pedestrians alike on heavily trafficked streets.

Accessible Pedestrian Signals (APS) are walk signal systems designed with audio and tactile cues to help blind and visually impaired pedestrians know when they can cross the street. The sounds and buttons tell users when the “walk” sign is lit up and is also very helpful for children and for older adults. APS systems have already been installed to replace old signals around Cambridge, this would expand the current network.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons are pedestrian-activated and improve safety at uncontrolled, marked crosswalks when used in combination with pedestrian crossing warning signs. Research indicates these beacons can result in motorist yielding rates as high as 95% at marked crosswalks. The $180,000 budget will support the installation of APS systems at 10 intersections and Rapid Flashing Beacons at 5 locations.

A sign at a crosswalk with flashing lights to warn drivers that a pedestrian is trying to cross.

A button affixed to a walk signal at an intersection that turns on audio explanation of when it is safe to cross the street.