Crosswalk on Floyd Street
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Crosswalk on Floyd Street
Crosswalk on Floyd Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

While walking along Floyd Street at the University of Louisville, I was astonished to find a fancy new crosswalk installed to connect the Swain Student Activities Center with the Cardinal Park athletic fields. Louisville has plenty of mid-block crosswalks where a stoplight or stop sign isn’t feasible or even desirable, but, as I have noted before, our older mid-block crosswalks can fail miserably.

Crosswalk on Floyd Street
Crosswalk on Floyd Street. (Branden Klayko / Broken Sidewalk)

At other mid-block crosswalks around town, the pedestrian may have the right-of-way, but it’s up to the motorists to know how such a crosswalk works and then actually stop. Results are usually mixed and the pedestrian must be on high-guard at all times. Now, the University of Louisville’s new crosswalk makes crossing the street a little bit easier and a lot safer.

The Floyd Street crosswalk is similar to an example from Seattle (check the video in the last post) that responds to a pedestrian crossing the street. Two bollards detect a pedestrian ready to cross and activate flashing lights embedded into the street and several others lining the perimeter of adjacent signs. After watching several students cross the street and motorists immediately stop each time, it’s clear that there’s something to the design.

You may have seen mid-block crosswalks with perpetually blinking lights warning drivers to pay caution. These new lights only flash when there is a pedestrian present. Could it be that motorists have become numb to the older lights and tend to ignore them? The small lights in the pavement on each side of the crosswalk also help as well and are visible clearly during the day.

So does this work now because of its novelty or could this design prove valuable years down the road? Whatever the answer, it would be great to see this model adopted in other parts of the city.

Bollard detects a pedestrian waiting to cross
Bollard detects a pedestrian waiting to cross. Barney Bright
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Branden Klayko

5 COMMENTS

  1. Wow! Thanks for the story. I am really interested in pedestrian infrastructure, and am very happy that Broken Sidewalk exists and covers this type of thing. I like knowing what’s going on. Three cheers for BS!

  2. Thanks to Broken Sidewalks for keeping up with the good AND the bad. This is a wonderful example for others to model.

  3. Just thought that I would add this link from Wave 3 a tipster sent in that could explain why this site was chosen for the crosswalk improvement. The area is evidently notorious for pedestrian collisions a is the sad site of the death of two young girls killed last year by a car chase.

    It’s hard to believe, as the article states, that the city’s recommendation would be to remove the crosswalk entirely. Not an appropriate solution, especially in this high pedestrian volume area where mobility is a key issue. UL officials agree, predicting that more dangerous jaywalking without right-of-way would increase.

    Another option included included building a bridge, but I like the idea of simply crossing the street rather than forcing pedestrians up and over it.

  4. As one of those staunch pedestrian advocates, I’ve always fantasized about something like this; it’s cool to see such technology actually exists & is now being used close by my neighborhood. Too many inattentive drivers (usually on their cell phones) ignore crosswalks & stop in the middle of them, then sit there dumbfounded while you wait for them to get out of the way or have to walk around their car. What would it take to make these crossing guards more widespread? Or maybe to put in some tire-slashing blades that retract up out of the pavement, too!?
    NOTE: the intersection where the 2 young girls were killed in 2007 is actually about a block from this crosswalk, at the corner of Floyd & Warnock (next to the McDonald’s & the U of L Swimming Center. There is a memorial in our neighborhood on the traffic island at Crittenden & Warnock to recall those 2 little girls.

  5. The planning, design, and selection for the In-Roadway Warning Light (IRWL) system installed at this location was in cooperation with our company and the City of Louisville. It is very gratifying for us at LightGuard Systems to know that our product, the Smart Crosswalk, is not only protecting pedestrians but is also being acknowledged by those who actually use the IRWL crosswalk. We are trying our best to spread the word of an effective traffic calming technology. Please visit us on our Facebook page and “like” us.

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