(Photos: Stop Experts, Inc.)
The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation is finishing up installation of the Portland’s first “rapid flash beacon.” The crossing treatment, coming soon on SE 82nd at SE Francis and other locations, is aimed at improving safety of non-motorized traffic.
The rapid flash beacons passed an evaluation by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with flying colors. In one intersection in St. Petersburg, Florida, the yield/stop rate increased from 1.5% before the beacons were installed, to 85% after. Based on that, the devices have “interim approval” for use by the FHWA and are noted as being good for crossing four-lane highways.
Unlike conventional yellow crossing beacons (wonks call them “wig-wag” beacons”), the rapid flash beacons have a high-intensity LED light source that can be programmed to flash a variable patterns and speeds to catch road users’ attention.
Don’t forget to “thank the driver.”
PBOT pedestrian coordinator April Bertelsen is a fan. “It gets people’s attention.”
Rapid flash beacons are expected to be adopted into the all-important Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices next time it’s updated, a move that will clear the way for cities across the country to start using them.
PBOT already has plans to install them at three intersections along NE 33rd next year (Going, Klickitat, and Holman) at a price of $35,000 a piece. If these crossing beacons prove successful in Portland it will help fill a gap for traffic engineers between the $150,000 HAWK (High Intensity Actuated Walk) signals (which are relatively expensive) and standard beacons (which are not highly effective).
More photos and information at StopExperts.com.