Behavioral Investigation of Temporary and Permanent Pedestrian Infrastructure

Principal Investigator(s):

Curtis Craig, Research Associate, Mechanical Engineering


  • Nichole Morris, Director, Human Factors Safety Lab, Mechanical Engineering

Project summary:

Pedestrian injuries and fatalities remain an ongoing problem in Minnesota, leading to significant societal and financial costs each year. Identifying effective mitigation strategies to improve safety and reduce risks to pedestrians is vital to personal and public health.

Pedestrian infrastructure is generally considered effective at improving pedestrian safety. For example, median refuges appear to improve both pedestrian safety behaviors (e.g., looking for vehicles) and driver safety behaviors (e.g., stopping rate and longer stopping distances). However, pedestrian infrastructure, particularly those which are intended to be in place for a longer period (i.e., permanent), can be relatively expensive to install. A national assessment of pedestrian infrastructure costs in 2013 found that refuge islands had an average cost of $13,520 per island, with a maximum cost of $41,170 per island.

Agencies often treat sites initially with temporary treatments (e.g., removable bollard refuge islands) to test efficacy, which are also relatively less expensive than more permanent installations. But unlike with more permanent infrastructure, pedestrian behavior at temporary infrastructure relative to permanent infrastructure is less known, as well as how usage interacts with driver factors such as speed and yielding. Furthermore, sets of removable bollards can be damaged, leading to a question of their maintenance and effectiveness over time.

This study proposes to test the impact of the efficacy of temporary and permanent pedestrian infrastructure such as curb extensions/bump-out and pedestrian refuge islands as it relates to pedestrian behavior and driver performance.

Project details: