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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Text and Materials Development
Sandra Rosen

Project Leaders
Terrie (Mary T.) Terlau
Rosanne Hoffmann

Graphics and Photography
Sandra Rosen
Terri Gilmore
Bisig Impact Group

Production Team
Lila Adkins
Cary Crumpton
Darlene Donhoff
Anna Fox
Frank Hayden
David Hines
Karen Marshall
Lou Tingle
Phyllis Williams

Expert Reviewers
Nora Griffin-Shirley
Julie Hapeman
Donna Brostek Lee
Richard Long
Grace Ambrose Zaken

INTRODUCTION

Crossing the street is a complex task. It involves the use of several techniques specific to crossing streets such as locating the proper position on the corner from which to cross and negotiating around vehicles that have pulled into the crosswalk. In addition, it involves the integrated use of numerous mobility techniques from several of the other Step-By-Step modules.

This module focuses primarily on the mobility techniques that are involved in street crossings. Many of these techniques are used in conjunction with one another; for the sake of simplicity, they are grouped into the following categories.

Approach

These techniques focus on detecting arrival at an intersection and on assuming the appropriate position at the curb to initiate a crossing. These techniques address variations in terrain (e.g., curb, ramps, mid-block contacts) and also address negotiating obstacles in the travel path that lie immediately below the curb.

Alignment

These techniques focus on body alignment at the curb to ensure a straight, direct path across the street. They address variations in intersection shapes (e.g., four-leg right-angle, skewed) and traffic patterns (e.g., on the perpendicular or the parallel street, moving in a straight direction or turning).

Timing

These techniques are used to determine the safest time to initiate a street crossing at intersections that vary in size, types of traffic controls (e.g., unsignalized or signalized), and configurations (e.g., presence or absence of median strips).

In addition to mobility techniques, however, street crossings involve skills in many other areas of independent travel including orientation, traffic pattern analysis, environmental awareness, and intersection analysis. For this reason, this module also has additional information on traffic patterns, traffic controls, and intersection analysis.

In-depth presentations of traffic actuated signals, accessible pedestrian signals, and roundabout intersections are not included in Step-By-Step because they deserve a much more detailed presentation than can be provided in this manual. The reader is referred to other publications for specific information on these topics.

Executing

These techniques are used to negotiate intersections of varying size and configurations (e.g., presence or absence of median strips). Some techniques address specific travel situations such as recovering from an unintended veer during a street crossing or contact during a crossing with a car that has pulled into the crosswalk.

Signaling Drivers

Travelers can use these techniques to indicate to drivers whether they intend to step off of the curb immediately at a street crossing. While not a guarantee that drivers will recognize the signals and respond appropriately, these signals can often help alert drivers as to the traveler's immediate intentions.

APPROACH & ALIGNMENT

STREET CROSSING APPROACH

PURPOSE

To approach a corner and locate the proper position for crossing

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Stairs With a Cane*
Touch
Touch & Slide**

* Knowing the STAIRS WITH A CANE technique may help the traveler learn how to anchor the cane and walk up to a down-curb or the bottom of a curb ramp that she has contacted at the intersection.

**The TOUCH & SLIDE technique can be useful in detecting shallow curbs, curb ramps, and blended curbs for travelers who choose not to use the TOUCH (Constant Contact) technique.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Generally, the teaching environments progress from simple to complex (e.g., from quiet residential to small business), from quiet to congested, and from familiar to unfamiliar.

Ideally, instruction begins in a quiet residential area in which the sidewalks have parkways* and distinct shorelines. The curbs should be deep enough (e.g., 6 inches or more) to be perceived easily with the cane. There should be no obstacles on, or at, the corner around which the traveler must negotiate. Square corners are often easier for new travelers to detect than rounded corners because square corners appear to be located "generally in front" of the traveler, even if the traveler approaches them on a slight angle. Rounded corners, on the other hand, may appear to be located "somewhat on the side" of the traveler if she contacts the curb at an angle (see Figure 1.01). In this latter situation, contact with a rounded curb can more easily be confused with contacting a curb mid-block. If all curbs in the area are rounded, then it is generally helpful to begin instruction at corners where the curbs are only minimally rounded.

* Depending on where one lives, parkways might also be called "tree lawns" or "grassy areas" (Jacobson, 1993).

Figure 1.01
Rounded corners may appear to be located "somewhat on the side" of the traveler if she contacts the curb close to the parallel street.

Progress first to areas that have more shallow curbs, then areas with blended curbs and curb ramps (with and without detectable warning surfaces). Gradually introduce corners that are more and more significantly rounded. Include travel experience in areas that have additional features such as gratings or sewer covers and/or water present in the gutter below the curb, and cars parked across crosswalks to emphasize the importance of "clearing" and to provide practice in negotiating obstacles at the corner. As the traveler gains confidence, progress to areas in which there are increased amounts of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

Lead up to travel in unfamiliar and gradually more complex environments such as busy residential, small business, and urban areas.

SKILLS

Identifying Arrival at the Intersection

There are many tactile, auditory, proprioceptive, and other cues that can be used to anticipate arrival at an intersection and to help verify that the curb detected is actually at an intersection and is not located mid-block.

Tactile

  1. The traveler can use the TOUCH & SLIDE technique or the TOUCH (Constant Contact) technique to detect textural differences between the sidewalk and the street at corners where there are blended curbs or curb ramps.
  2. Some cities have installed detectable warning surfaces such as truncated domes to indicate the presence of a curb ramp (see Figures 1.02a and 1.02b). Detectable warnings are now required at all new construction or renovation sites (see US Access Board Web site at http://www.access-board.gov).


    Figures 1.02a and 1.02b
    Detectable warning surfaces can indicate the presence of a curb ramp.

Time and Distance Judgment

The time and distance traveled from the beginning of the block or other known landmark can often help the traveler to distinguish between contact with a curb that is located mid-block and with the curb at the intersection.

Proprioceptive Information—Gradients at the Corner

  1. The down-curb at an intersection is most readily detected by the downward movement of the cane tip and the consequent change in the traveler's wrist position as the tip drops off of the edge. Landmarks (e.g., mailboxes, poles, bus shelters, or benches) that are typically found near intersections may also be present. The location of these landmarks, however, is inconsistent. For example, in some areas, poles and mailboxes are also found mid-block.
    • If the cane tip drops off ahead of the traveler, this generally indicates that the curb is ahead of the traveler at the end of the block. If the cane drops off to the side of the traveler, it generally indicates that the traveler is mid-block.
  2. In some hilly areas, the sidewalk will generally level off at the intersection immediately prior to a down-curb.
  3. In some areas, the last several feet of the sidewalk before the corner will slope slightly down. The section that slopes downward is called a "curb ramp." At the destination corner, the curb ramp will slope slightly upward to meet the main sidewalk.
  4. Blended curbs can be difficult and often impossible to identify proprioceptively.

Temperature Changes

On sunny days, a break in the building line may allow the traveler to feel the sun as she walks out of the shadow of a building. This change in heat may indicate to the traveler that she is nearing the intersection.

Presence of Wind

A break in the building line may allow the traveler to feel the wind that had been blocked by the building. This change may indicate that the traveler is nearing the intersection.

Auditory Information

Vehicular traffic.

  1. Parallel traffic may slow, stop, or turn at the intersection.
  2. Perpendicular traffic will sound increasingly closer as the traveler approaches the intersection.
  3. If there is a building on the corner, there may be a sudden increase in the volume of sounds from perpendicular traffic that become audible as the traveler passes the end of the building. The traveler may also be better able to detect sounds from farther away on the perpendicular street since these sounds are no longer blocked by the building.

Pedestrian traffic.

Note: Pedestrian traffic is not as structured and controlled as vehicular traffic; therefore, it is not a dependable source of information.

  1. If there is a building on the corner, there may be a sudden increase in the volume and proximity of sounds from pedestrian traffic on the perpendicular sidewalk that become audible as the traveler passes the end of the building.
  2. The traveler may encounter pedestrians standing at the corner as they wait to cross the street.

Miscellaneous environmental sounds.

There are a variety of environmental sounds that can serve as secondary landmarks for corners or for determining one's proximity to a corner down-curb. For example, storm drains are often located at corners, but they may also be found mid-block. Furthermore, storm drains provide sound clues only when water is flowing into them, and they may not provide any sound clues at all when clogged with leaves and debris.

Reflected sounds.

Reflected sounds from such things as the cane tip contacting the sidewalk, the traveler's own footsteps, or sometimes traffic, will cease when a building line ends. This is often perceived auditorily as a "break in the building line" or an "open space" and may indicate that the traveler is approaching the corner.

Approach

The standard method for approaching an intersection in preparation to cross the street. This method of preparing to cross is an integral part of all street crossings.

  1. Using the TOUCH (Standard or Constant Contact) technique or the TOUCH & SLIDE technique, the traveler approaches the corner.
  2. When the cane tip drops off the edge of the curb, the traveler maintains her current alignment, pauses, and anchors the cane tip in midline either at the edge, or against the vertical face, of the curb.
    • Anchoring her cane either at the edge or against the vertical face of the curb keeps the tip out of the way of traffic on the street (see Figure 1.03) and also assists the traveler to monitor her position relative to the curb.

      Figure 1.03
      Anchoring her cane at, or on, the edge of the curb keeps the tip out of the way of traffic on the street and also assists the traveler to monitor her position relative to the curb.
    • If the traveler fails to identify the down-curb or ramp edge and oversteps the curb or curb ramp by only one step, she should try to maintain her alignment and simply step backward onto the curb or curb ramp, and position herself for the crossing. If the traveler loses her alignment, she must re-establish it using the ALIGNMENT technique.
  3. Using her cane and available auditory information, the traveler verifies that she has arrived at a corner and that her cane has not just contacted the parallel curb at a mid-block position (see section entitled Determining Whether the Curb Contacted is Mid-Block or at the Corner).
    • Listening to the sounds of nearby traffic, the traveler also verifies that she is a proper distance from the parallel street to cross safely. She does not want to be so close that a slight veer while crossing will place her dangerously close to passing cars. Similarly, she wants to ensure that she is not so far from the parallel street that she would likely be walking outside of the crosswalk area and potentially encounter idling or parked vehicles on the perpendicular street. The need to verify one's distance from the parallel street is most significant when traveling in areas with very wide sidewalks.
  4. Maintaining her direction, the traveler walks up to a point 2-6 inches from the curb.
    • This position helps ensure that the traveler's first step will clear the edge of the curb.
    • If the traveler hears a vehicle approach too closely, she may need to move back a step or so until it passes. This can be especially important if a large vehicle such as a truck or bus is turning right at the start corner. The traveler may also want to stand slightly farther back from the curb on a rainy day (unless she is wearing appropriate rain gear) so that she won't get splashed by a vehicle going through a puddle.
    • The traveler should not place her toes over the edge of the curb. Doing so may interfere with her alignment at rounded corners and it may also place her too close to traffic that is turning the corner close to the curb.
  5. The traveler "clears" the street where she will take her first step by sweeping her cane tip on the ground in either an arc, a bisected arc, or an "X" pattern (see Figures 1.04a, 1.04b, and 1.04c). In this way, she can locate any obstacles (e.g., deep puddle, debris, or parked car) or safety concerns (e.g., open storm drain).

    Figure 1.04
    The traveler "clears" the street where she will step by sweeping her cane tip on the ground in an arc, a bisected arc, or an "X" pattern.

    Figure 1.04a. An arc

    Figure 1.04b. A bisected arc

    Figure 1.04c. An "X" pattern
    • If an obstruction is present in the traveler's path, she should locate a new position on the corner from which to cross (see section entitled "Obstacle at the Corner").
    • If the traveler did not determine the height of the curb when clearing, she should check it by lowering her cane tip to the street at the curb edge and raising it back up over the curb edge. Knowing the curb height can help her adjust the height and distance of her first step off of the curb to maintain her balance and direction of travel. Knowing the curb height can also be especially helpful to travelers who have impaired balance.
  6. The traveler holds her cane in a semi-vertical position, anchored at the curb, and maintains her body facing directly forward while waiting to cross (see ALIGNMENT technique). The cane tip may be placed either on the curb or immediately below it (see Figures 1.05a and 1.05b).

    Figure 1.05
    The traveler holds her cane in a semi-vertical position, anchored at the curb. The cane tip may be held either above or below the curb.
    Figure 1.05a
    The traveler holds the cane with the tip above the curb.

    Figure 1.05b
    The traveler holds the cane with the tip below the curb.

Other ways to hold the cane.

Determining Whether the Curb Contacted is Mid-Block or at the Corner

A simple method to identify when one has contacted a curb mid-block instead of contacting a rounded corner at an intersection

  1. The traveler stops when her cane tip falls off of the curb edge.
  2. The traveler listens for perpendicular and parallel traffic and/or slides her cane tip along the curb edge to determine the curb's direction (see Figure 1.08).

    Figure 1.08
    The traveler listens for parallel traffic and/or slides her cane tip along the curb edge to determine the curb's direction.
    • If the curb is primarily located on the traveler's side and does not curve, her position is most likely at mid-block rather than at a corner.
    • If traffic on the perpendicular and parallel streets does not appear to be in the expected forward and side positions, or if traffic on the perpendicular street sounds too far away, then the traveler's position is most likely at mid-block rather than at a corner.
  3. The traveler adjusts her alignment parallel to the curb and/or traffic and then continues to move.

Obstacle at the Corner

This is an effective method for locating a clear space from which to begin crossing the street when an obstacle is located immediately beyond the curb in the original travel path.

  1. Upon locating an obstacle when "clearing," the traveler moves one to two steps (or more if needed) to the side using a modified THREE-POINT technique (performed from above the curb) to locate a clear place to cross, and then clears again.
    • Some travelers feel that moving away from the parallel street prevents them from being too close to parallel traffic and also avoids having to cross at a point where the curb is more rounded; other travelers feel that moving toward the parallel street makes them more visible to traffic and minimizes the potential of encountering a car parked at the curb.

Curb Ramps and Blended Curbs

A method used to locate the street edge of a curb ramp or blended curb for a safe and efficient crossing

Note: It simply may not be possible to identify the edge of some blended curbs with the cane, or even under foot. For this reason, this technique is only reliable at intersections that do have some sort of tactile, auditory, or other cue indicating the edge of the blended curb.

  1. If the traveler anticipates contacting a curb ramp or blended curb, she can use the TOUCH & SLIDE or TOUCH (Constant Contact) technique as she approaches the corner to identify textural and/or slope differences or the joint between the sidewalk and the street.
  2. When her cane tip detects the street edge of the curb ramp or blended curb, the traveler anchors the tip on the edge, at midline, and walks up to it.
    • If necessary, the traveler can often confirm the presence of a perpendicular street by checking with her cane for a perpendicular curb next to the curb ramp (on the side away from the parallel street). This reach with the cane should be done slowly and carefully so as to not accidentally trip other pedestrians.
    • It is important that the traveler maintain her original direction of travel when walking up to the edge of a curb ramp. Because curb ramps often face diagonally into the intersection, turning to follow the slope of the curb ramp toward the street can cause the traveler to be aligned incorrectly to cross the street.
  3. The traveler "clears" the area of the street immediately beyond the edge of the ramp or blended curb where she will take her first step.
  4. Holding her cane in the semi-vertical position (or other position described earlier in the section "Approach"), the traveler stands slightly back from the street edge of the curb ramp or blended curb while waiting to cross. She does this because some vehicles tend to come up over blended curbs when making right-hand turns.

Making Multiple Crossings at an Intersection

An easy and reliable method for positioning oneself in the crosswalk when approaching the curb immediately after crossing the perpendicular street at that intersection

  1. After crossing the first street, the traveler takes three steps forward and then turns toward the parallel street (see Figure 1.09). In most cases this will position her on, or near, the perpendicular sidewalk.

    Figure 1.09
    After crossing the first street, the traveler takes three steps forward, then turns toward the parallel street. In most cases this positions her on, or near, the perpendicular sidewalk.
    • If, after turning toward the parallel street, the traveler fails to locate the perpendicular sidewalk leading to the parallel street, she should use the SIDEWALK RECOVERY procedures to locate the perpendicular sidewalk and then approach the curb facing the parallel street.
  2. Using the method for Approach, the traveler walks up to the corner, then "clears."

Crossing Perpendicular to the Line of Travel

An easy and reliable method for positioning oneself in the crosswalk when approaching the intersection from the parallel sidewalk

  1. Upon contacting the curb of the perpendicular street, the traveler turns 180 degrees and takes three steps back in the direction from which she came. In most cases this will position her on, or near, the perpendicular sidewalk. The traveler then turns toward the parallel street and using the method for Approach, walks up to the corner and clears (see Figures 1.10a and 1.10b).


    Figures 1.10a and 1.10b
    Upon contacting the curb of the perpendicular street, the traveler turns around and takes three steps back in the direction from which she came. She then turns toward the parallel street and using the method for Approach, walks up to the corner and clears.
    • If the traveler turns toward the parallel street but fails to locate the perpendicular sidewalk, she can use the SIDEWALK RECOVERY procedures to locate the sidewalk and then approach the curb facing the parallel street.
    • When the traveler reaches the curb of the parallel street, she can verify that she is at the correct crossing location on the curb by using traffic sounds or the presence of parkways to judge her distance from the corner.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to clear before stepping off of the curb.

Correction:
Clearing before stepping off of the curb enables the traveler to detect any obstacles that may be located immediately below the curb.

Error:
When holding her cane in the diagonal position at the corner, the traveler positions her cane with the tip extending more than a few inches beyond her body width.

Correction:
Holding her cane in the diagonal position without allowing the tip to extend more than a few inches beyond her body width keeps the cane tip out of the travel path of other pedestrians.

Error:
The traveler follows the slope of the curb ramp to the corner.

Correction:
The traveler should not depend on the slope of the ramp to indicate the correct alignment for crossing. While some ramps are aligned perpendicular to the street, others may be angled toward the intersection.

Error:
Rather than bringing her cane to midline before walking up to it at the corner, the traveler anchors her cane at whatever point it contacts the curb and turns her body as needed to walk up to it.

Correction:
Bringing her cane to midline before walking up to the curb enables the traveler to maintain her original forward line of travel.

Error:
The traveler places both toes over the edge of the curb while waiting to cross.

Correction:
The traveler should stand 2-6 inches back from the curb while waiting to cross. Placing her toes over the edge can position her too close to traffic in the near lane. In addition, it can confuse some drivers by making it visually appear that the traveler is about to step off of the curb at any moment.

Error:
The traveler stands more than a 1-2 foot distance back from the curb.

Correction:
The traveler should stand 2-6 inches back from the curb while waiting to cross. Standing back too far from the curb can confuse drivers by giving the impression that the traveler is not planning to cross the intersection.

Error:
The traveler fails to return to the curb after overstepping it by only one step.

Correction:
Returning to the curb after overstepping it by only one step keeps the traveler out of the street until she has first verified that it is safe to cross.

Error:
The traveler stands below the curb ramp (in the street gutter where it is flat) rather than on the slope of a curb ramp while waiting to cross.

Correction:
The traveler should remain on the curb ramp while waiting to cross. Standing in the street can place her too close to traffic moving in the first lane.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Median Strips
Signalized Intersections
Street Crossing Mechanics
Street Crossing Recovery
Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk



STREET CROSSING ALIGNMENT

PURPOSE

To align oneself to cross the street. This technique encompasses a number of methods of alignment for use in the presence of various traffic patterns and intersection shapes.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Touch & Drag*

* At a familiar intersection that has a shoreline immediately alongside the sidewalk, the traveler can use the TOUCH & DRAG technique to follow the shoreline up to the corner and establish a line of travel across the street. This technique is only used when other methods of alignment are not possible, and only in familiar areas where the direction of the shoreline being followed is parallel to the traveler's desired line of travel across the street.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

This technique is often taught in conjunction with the STREET CROSSING MECHANICS and STREET CROSSING TIMING techniques.

Generally, the teaching environments progress from simple to complex (e.g., from quiet residential to small business), from quiet to congested, and from familiar to unfamiliar.

The ALIGNMENT technique is generally introduced at

Progress to areas that have

Lead up to travel in unfamiliar and gradually more complex environments such as residential, small business, and urban areas.

SKILLS

The skills below describe the primary ways in which travelers align in order to cross the street safely and efficiently. These methods of preparing to cross are an integral part of all street crossings.

Body Alignment

  1. The traveler stands a few inches back from the curb edge with her
    • head and trunk erect and facing forward, and
    • feet slightly apart and pointing forward.

      Notes:
    • Some travelers find that keeping their weight evenly distributed on the balls of their feet and leaning slightly forward at the curb helps them to project a straight line of travel forward when they step off of the curb.
    • When standing at a gently rounded curb, some travelers also find that their balance is better when they keep their feet aligned next to each other.
    • It is easiest to maintain alignment by stepping off of the curb with the foot farthest from the curb edge (and also farthest from the parallel street); stepping off with the foot nearest the curb can make the traveler take an unnaturally large second step that can affect her line of travel (see Figure 2.02).

      Figure 2.02
      Some travelers find it easier to maintain alignment by stepping off of the curb with the foot farthest from the curb edge (and also farthest from the parallel street); stepping off with the foot nearest the curb can make the traveler take an unnaturally large second step that can affect her line of travel.
  2. Once aligned, it is important that the traveler not shuffle her feet or rotate her head or trunk. Doing so could alter her projected line of travel.

Alignment With Traffic—General Points and Concepts

  1. The traveler aligns her body to project a line either parallel to that of parallel traffic, or perpendicular to that of perpendicular traffic.
    • It may be helpful for the traveler to pick one vehicle, listen to it, and then track its movement.
    • A vehicle that has not stopped or slowed at the intersection will often provide the best sound cues for alignment.
    • The traveler should never align with turning vehicles because doing so may cause the traveler to veer. Turning vehicles can often be identified auditorily by the sound of their motor slowing down as they approach the turn.
  2. It is often easier to determine the exact direction of the traffic auditorily, if
    • there are no masking sounds;
    • it is not a rainy and/or windy day because wind and rain can distort sounds. On the other hand, rain alone may actually make sounds louder and easier to hear;
    • vehicles do not stop at the intersection;
    • vehicles are in the nearest lane.
  3. Perpendicular traffic does not provide reliable directional information for crossing at intersections that are other than four-leg right-angled or T-shaped (when perpendicular traffic is at the top of the "T"). In addition, some travelers simply find it easier to align using parallel traffic than using perpendicular traffic. For these reasons, travelers generally use parallel traffic for their primary alignment and then use perpendicular traffic for confirmation. If parallel traffic is not available, travelers can align with perpendicular traffic and correct for any veer after they cross the street and reach the opposite curb.
  4. Travelers who are able to establish a consistent, straight line of travel in the block preceding the intersection can sometimes project that line to travel directly across that street and use traffic sounds as a secondary, rather than as a primary, means of verifying alignment (Hill & Ponder, 1976).

Alignment With Parallel Traffic

  1. The traveler aligns her body and projects a forward line of travel that is parallel to the nearest straight-traveling parallel traffic.
    • Here is a trick that is sometimes useful: If the vehicle is in the curb lane and is going in the same direction as the traveler, she can listen for the point when she last hears the vehicle and face that point. As a note of caution, however, this is more difficult to do with a vehicle that is a lane farther from the curb. Also, in noisy environments, the traveler may have difficulty hearing this point sufficiently far ahead of her to provide a good line of travel.
    • Another trick that is sometimes useful is to establish a clockface reference for alignment. For example, near lane vehicles on the parallel street that are going in the same direction as the traveler will approach at 7:00, will be loudest at 9:00, and will depart at 11:00; oncoming traffic in the near lane will approach at 1:00, be loudest at 3:00, and will depart at 7:00.
    • Due to the shape of the outer ear and the nature of sound waves, same-direction traffic can often be heard for a longer period of time as it proceeds past the intersection ahead of the traveler than oncoming traffic can be heard as it goes behind the traveler.
  2. During the street crossing, the traveler continues to monitor the direction of traffic in order to maintain a direction of travel parallel to it.

Alignment With Perpendicular Traffic

  1. The traveler aligns her body perpendicularly to the nearest straight-traveling perpendicular traffic. She projects a straight line of travel forward from that position.
    • Perpendicular traffic should cross the traveler's projected straight line at a 90 degree angle (see Figure 2.03).

      Figure 2.03
      Perpendicular traffic should bisect the traveler's projected straight line, forming an angle of 90 degrees.
    • When a vehicle is loudest, it is generally directly in front of the traveler.
    • As is sometimes useful when aligning with parallel traffic, establishing a clockface reference can sometimes help the traveler align with perpendicular traffic.

Alignment in the Absence of Traffic Sounds

If the traveler's direction of travel is dependably straight and she is able to maintain this direction through the approach and waiting phases of the street crossing, she should be correctly aligned to cross a conventional intersection that is either four-leg right-angled or T-shaped.

If the traveler's direction of travel has been altered as she approaches the corner or while she waits at the curb, she can use the following methods to regain her direction of travel in the absence of traffic sounds.

Reapproach the corner.

  1. The traveler turns around and proceeds back a short distance along her approach route. The traveler then reverses direction and reapproaches the corner, establishing a straight line of travel.

Alignment at square corners.

  1. If the traveler can verify that she has arrived at a square corner or at the top of a T-shaped intersection, she can position her feet so that they are equidistant from the curb in front of her.
    • By sliding her cane laterally to each side along the curb edge, the traveler can often determine whether an intersection has square or rounded corners. If the curb is square, her cane will remain in a position generally in front of her body. If the curb is rounded, the cane tip will appear to move either behind her or closer to her shoulder line on one side and more in front of her body on the other side. This assumes, however, that she has approached the corner with a relatively straight line of travel.

Use of landmarks.

  1. In familiar areas, the traveler can use known landmarks at the corner (e.g., mailboxes) to assist in establishing a direction of travel.
    • This method is generally used when it is not possible to align using other methods or if the traveler wishes to verify her alignment after she establishes it by other means.

Shorelining.

This method only works in environments that have a consistent, inside shoreline to which the traveler can align. Also, because of the cumbersome nature of this method, it is generally only used as a last resort when other alignment methods fail.

  1. Using the TOUCH & DRAG or TOUCH (Constant Contact) techniques, the traveler follows the edge of the sidewalk (farthest from the parallel street when parkways are not present) as she approaches the curb.

A special note about curb ramps.

Curb ramps sometimes pose special challenges for alignment. Some curb ramps are aligned parallel to the sidewalk, and the traveler simply maintains her original line of direction as she locates the bottom of the ramp at the edge of the street. Other curb ramps are angled toward the apex of the intersection. When detecting a curb ramp, it is important for the traveler to maintain her original line of direction and not follow the slope of the ramp to locate the corner or follow the direction of the slope to determine her proper alignment for crossing.

GENERAL MODIFICATIONS

Alignment at T-Shaped Intersections

A T-shaped intersection can sometimes be identified by a consistent traffic pattern in which all traffic on one street turns while traffic on the other street either turns or proceeds straight ahead (see Figure 2.04). However, this method is not always reliable. Even at four-leg right-angled intersections, traffic on one of the streets may generally turn onto the other (e.g., such as when the first street is actually a road leading from a parking lot onto a main street).

Figure 2.04
A "T" intersection can sometimes be identified by a consistent traffic pattern in which all traffic on one street turns while traffic on the other street either turns or proceeds straight ahead.
  1. It is generally easiest to cross the stem of the "T" (see Figure 2.05a) or from the stem of the "T" to the top of the "T" (see Figure 2.05b). Crossing from the top of the "T" should only be done if traffic controls, traffic volume, and the environment allow this. In addition, unless the traveler is able to use a known landmark or auditory information (e.g., the point at which vehicles stop for a stop sign or traffic signal) to establish the proper location at the curb on the top of the "T" from which to begin a crossing toward a curb next to the stem, it should generally only be done in a direction going from the stem to the top of the "T" rather than the reverse. Thus, the traveler avoids the possibility of walking into traffic on the stem of the "T" (see Figure 2.05c).

    Figure 2.05
    It is generally easiest to cross the stem of the "T" (Figure 2.05a). It is also possible to cross over the top of the "T" in a direction going from the stem to the top of the "T" (Figure2.05b) if traffic controls, traffic volume, and the environment allow this. Unless the traveler is able to use a known landmark or clue (e.g., the point at which vehicles stop for a stop sign or traffic light) to establish the proper location at the curb on the top of the "T" from which to begin a crossing, she should not do so in order to avoid the possibility of veering inadvertently into traffic on the stem of the "T" (Figure 2.05c).

Alignment at Irregularly Shaped Intersections

Methods to align oneself to cross the street safely when the parallel and perpendicular streets intersect at an angle other than 90 degrees

Skewed intersections.

A skewed intersection can often be identified by the inability to be simultaneously aligned with both parallel and perpendicular traffic.

  1. The traveler aligns her body parallel to the nearest straight-traveling parallel traffic (not with turning vehicles or perpendicular traffic). Aligning with perpendicular traffic at a skewed intersection will cause the traveler to veer (see Figure 2.06).

    Figure 2.06
    Aligning with perpendicular traffic at an angled intersection can cause the traveler to veer.

Offset and irregular intersections.

Offset and irregular intersections (see Figure 2.07) can often be identified by the sound of parallel traffic that approaches a corner and then turns slightly as it continues through the intersection. At an offset intersection, auditory traffic information can sometimes mimic that present at a T-shaped intersection.

Figure 2.07
An offset intersection can often be identified by the sound of parallel traffic that approaches a corner and then turns slightly as it continues through the intersection.
  1. The traveler crosses an offset intersection using the procedures for crossing a T-shaped intersection; or, if it is possible to get an accurate line of travel using parallel traffic, she can cross as if at a skewed intersection.

    The traveler crosses an irregular intersection by aligning with parallel traffic as it moves beyond the start corner and goes through the intersection.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler shuffles her feet while waiting at the corner to cross the street.

Correction:
Unless she is purposely altering her alignment (e.g., in response to traffic sounds), keeping her feet pointing forward without shuffling them at the corner helps the traveler to maintain her line of travel.

Error:
The traveler aligns with perpendicular traffic at a skewed intersection.

Correction:
The traveler should align only with parallel traffic at a skewed intersection. This helps to ensure a straight line of travel across skewed intersections. Aligning with a perpendicular vehicle can cause the traveler to veer during the crossing.

Error:
The traveler aligns with a vehicle that is turning at the intersection.

Correction:
The traveler should never align with a turning vehicle. Aligning with a turning vehicle can cause her to veer as she crosses the street. The traveler should align only with a vehicle that is driving straight through the intersection.

Error:
The traveler ignores available parallel traffic and aligns to the curb in an unfamiliar area.

Correction:
Aligning with a passing parallel vehicle, when available, helps to ensure that the traveler is aligned properly to travel straight across the street. Aligning with the curb edge can be unreliable, especially in areas where the curbs are rounded.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain her feet pointing forward while waiting to cross at a corner.

Correction:
Standing with both feet pointing forward helps the traveler to maintain her line of travel and minimizes the potential for veering when she steps off of the curb.

Error:
The traveler fails to maintain her head facing forward while waiting at the corner to cross the street.

Correction:
Facing her head and trunk forward as well as her feet helps to ensure that the traveler is aligned properly to travel straight across the street. Turning her head may pull her body slightly out of alignment when she steps off of the curb and may lead to veering.

Notes:

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Gas Stations
Median Strips
Signalized Intersections
Street Crossing Mechanics
Street Crossing Recovery
Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk

TIMING

UNSIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS*

*The author expresses her appreciation to Wendy Scheffers and Linda Myers, who contributed material on this topic for the author's use; some of this material has been included in this section.

PURPOSE

To select the safest time to cross at intersections not controlled by traffic signals (i.e., uncontrolled, yield and stop sign controlled intersections) with varying amounts of traffic and varied traffic patterns, and to recognize situations in which it is not possible to select a safe time to cross

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Street Crossing Approach
Street Crossing Alignment
Street Crossing Mechanics

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Street crossing timings generally are introduced moving from simple to complex, from quiet to congested, and from uncontrolled or stop sign controlled to traffic signal controlled.

While the actual selection of teaching environments is generally dictated by the availability of specific intersection types in a traveler's area, there are several factors to consider in selecting "ideal" teaching environments. These factors include the volume of traffic at the intersection, traffic controls, and the direction of traffic flow.

Traffic Volume and Traffic Controls

No traffic present.

A "No Traffic Present" street crossing timing (sometimes called an "All Clear" crossing) is one in which there are breaks in traffic and no motor sounds or masking noises (e.g., leaf blowers or lawn mowers) can be heard at or near the intersection when the traveler is approaching it. (Motor sounds may be present in the far distance.) There must be good auditory visibility (environmental conditions that permit the traveler to detect approaching traffic in time to determine whether or not it is safe to cross at that time).

Traffic present.

It is generally helpful to begin instruction at the intersection of two narrow streets (e.g., two driving lanes) with a low volume of traffic that travels at a low speed and where there are typically long and definite breaks in traffic. There should be good auditory visibility at the corner. Auditory visibility refers to the ability to hear traffic sounds when they are far enough away to be able to determine if it is safe to cross the street. In some areas it may not be possible to hear approaching traffic until it is so close that the traveler cannot cross the street safely.

Direction of Traffic Flow and Turning Vehicles

Initially, introduce street crossings with traffic present at intersections where vehicles are not allowed to turn right from the parallel street onto the perpendicular street (across the traveler's path). The following outline is one suggested progression:

The first crossing should be with same-direction near lane parallel traffic, then with oncoming near lane parallel traffic. This order is recommended because it is usually easier for the traveler to detect the safest street crossing timing and to project a straight line of travel when she is crossing with same-direction near lane parallel traffic than with oncoming near lane parallel traffic.

Introduce turning traffic in the following ways:

SKILLS

Street Crossing Timing-No Traffic Present

The procedure for timing one's crossing at an intersection where there is good auditory visibility and no traffic present is relatively simple and straightforward.

  1. In the absence of traffic on both the perpendicular and parallel streets ("All Clear"), the traveler crosses after confirming the "All Clear."
    • During the crossing, the traveler should monitor for traffic. If, while in the street, the traveler hears a vehicle approaching that will cross the path ahead of her, she adjusts her pace, slowing or walking faster as needed to avoid contact with the vehicle.

      Notes:
    • This procedure also applies to crossing a street controlled by a yield sign.
    • Some uncontrolled streets can be unsafe places to cross due to traffic volume, speed of traffic, width of the street to be crossed, and visibility factors (ability of traveler to hear the approaching cars and ability of the driver to see the traveler).

Street Crossing Timing-Traffic Present

At some intersections, traffic on the parallel or perpendicular streets is consistently busy enough that it's not possible to get an "All Clear." Such intersections are generally controlled by stop signs or yield signs on at least one of the streets, or are controlled by a traffic signal. Procedures for crossing at an intersection that is controlled by a traffic signal are described in TRAFFIC SIGNAL CONTROLLED INTERSECTIONS.

Four-way stop sign controlled intersections.

  1. The traveler prepares to begin her crossing as she hears the near lane vehicle on the parallel street that has come to a complete stop at the intersection begin to move forward.
    • Timing her crossing to begin as the near lane parallel vehicle first enters the intersection affords the traveler the maximum amount of time to complete her crossing before vehicles on the perpendicular street begin to move.
  2. The traveler steps off of the curb after establishing that
    • any traffic on the perpendicular street is stopped;
    • traffic on the perpendicular street has not pulled into the crosswalk before stopping. This may be difficult to discern if the vehicle is not in the lane closest to the curb. If, during her crossing, the traveler encounters a car that has pulled into the crosswalk area, she can walk around it using the VEHICLES IN THE CROSSWALK technique;
    • the near lane parallel vehicle is moving forward and not turning right onto the perpendicular street in front of her.
      • — A right-turning vehicle is most often a concern when the vehicle in the near parallel lane turns into the near curb lane of the perpendicular street and therefore turns immediately across the traveler's path. To help attract the attention of the driver to her presence and to indicate her intention to step off of the curb, the traveler may perform the EXTRA ARC technique.
  3. The traveler monitors her line of travel as she crosses the street by listening to both parallel traffic and the idling engines of any vehicles pulled up to the crosswalk on the perpendicular street. Both are sources of auditory information that can help her confirm that she is crossing without veering and that she is in the crosswalk area.
    • During the crossing, the traveler should monitor the traffic. If, while in the street, the traveler hears a vehicle approaching or beginning to move that will cross her path ahead of her, she adjusts her pace, slowing or walking faster as needed to avoid contact with the vehicle.

Two-way stop sign controlled intersections—Crossing the stop sign controlled street.

  1. This procedure is the same as at a four-way stop sign controlled intersection except that the traveler will not be listening for a near-lane parallel vehicle that has stopped at the intersection to begin to move forward. Rather, she will time her crossing to begin as a near lane parallel vehicle approaching the intersection enters the intersection and proceeds straight through it.
    • Timing her crossing to begin as the near parallel vehicle first enters the intersection allows the maximum time to cross before the cars on the perpendicular street begin to move.
    • It is important for the traveler to always verify that the vehicle is going straight through the intersection and not turning across her path before she steps off of the curb.
      • — Experienced travelers can often predict whether it is likely that a near lane vehicle on an uncontrolled parallel street will turn in front of them onto the perpendicular street by listening to the sound of the vehicle's motor and tires. If the sound appears to be slowing, it may be an indication that the vehicle is planning to turn at the corner; if the sound continues at a steady speed, it may indicate that the vehicle will continue through the intersection without turning. Because driving patterns can sometimes be unpredictable, however, the traveler should use her own judgment in determining if it is safe to begin crossing. As an added precaution, the traveler may perform the EXTRA ARC technique before stepping off the curb in an effort to attract the attention of the driver to her presence and to indicate her intention to step off of the curb.
      • — During the crossing, the traveler should monitor the traffic. If, while in the street, the traveler hears a vehicle approaching or beginning to move that will cross her path ahead of her, she adjusts her pace, slowing or walking faster as needed to avoid contact with the vehicle.

Crossing the uncontrolled street.

While some advocate crossing an uncontrolled street when a near lane parallel vehicle enters the intersection (Jacobson, 1993), others feel that doing so is unsafe. They feel that the near lane parallel vehicle can block the traveler from the view of other drivers and can concurrently mask the sound of traffic approaching the traveler (Scheffers & Myers, 2009). They feel that because the near lane parallel vehicle will generally clear the intersection more quickly than the traveler, crossing with such a vehicle can leave her vulnerable to approaching through traffic on the perpendicular street. It is therefore recommended that the traveler cross an uncontrolled street with an "All Clear."

The only exception to this rule is when the traveler is crossing the uncontrolled stem of a "T" intersection; due to the "T" shape, there is no perpendicular through traffic. At a "T" intersection, the traveler can cross the stem with a near lane parallel vehicle that is traveling straight through the intersection along the top of the "T."

Additional Safety Notes for Crossing Streets When Traffic is Present

  1. Caution: When the parallel street is on the traveler's left side, a same-direction near lane parallel vehicle temporarily blocks the traveler from the view of drivers approaching from the left on the perpendicular street or turning onto the perpendicular street from the far lane parallel position. The traveler should always listen for moving traffic that could cross her path. If, immediately after stepping off of the curb, the traveler deems it unsafe to continue the crossing, she can either pause before entering the driving lane or step back onto the curb.
  2. After determining that it is safe to begin crossing, the traveler should not hesitate excessively before stepping off of the curb because she may miss the safest timing, and other cars at the intersection may start to move across her path.
  3. If, while the traveler is no more than a few steps from the curb, she hears a vehicle approaching such that it will cross her path, she can step back onto the curb. If she is farther from the curb, it may be safer to pause, slow down, or keep going depending upon the traveler's judgment of where the approaching vehicle will cross her travel path. Returning to the curb from more than a few steps from the curb can be dangerous if vehicles are close enough that they may reach the traveler because drivers generally expect pedestrians in crosswalks to continue walking forward; drivers plan to pass just behind the traveler. In each situation, the traveler must use her own judgment.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler waits too long and begins her crossing when the near lane parallel vehicle reaches the far side of the intersection.

Correction:
The traveler should begin crossing when the near lane parallel vehicle just enters the intersection. Correct timing enables the near lane parallel vehicle to provide the traveler with some protection from moving perpendicular traffic and from far lane parallel traffic that could turn across the traveler's path. Also, stepping off of the curb after the vehicle has passed (but before its motor sounds fade) can place the traveler in the path of perpendicular traffic whose sound may have been masked by the sound of the first vehicle.

Error:
The traveler begins crossing (stop signs on the perpendicular street) when she hears the sound of the near lane parallel vehicle slowing as it approaches the two-way stop sign controlled intersection.

Correction:
The traveler should wait until it is either "All Clear" or until she hears a near lane parallel vehicle begin to go straight through the intersection before she steps off of the curb. The sound of a slowing motor may indicate a vehicle preparing to turn. Waiting until it is either "All Clear" or the near lane parallel vehicle starts to go straight through the intersection prevents the traveler from inadvertently stepping into the path of a turning vehicle.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

Right-of-Way Laws

Pedestrians.

Uncontrolled intersections.

Yield signs.

Stop signs.

Traffic signals.

Intersection Analysis

In preparing to cross the street, the traveler performs an intersection analysis in order determine whether that intersection is a safe location at which to cross, and if it is, to then identify the safest time to cross.

In analyzing the intersection, the traveler considers the following features:

A Few Additional Notes

General points to remember when crossing streets.

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Median Strips
Signalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk



SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS

PURPOSE

To safely and efficiently cross various types of traffic signal controlled streets with varying amounts of traffic and varying traffic patterns

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Street Crossing Approach
Street Crossing Alignment
Street Crossing Mechanics
Street Crossing Recovery*
Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk**

* Knowing the STREET CROSSING RECOVERY technique enables the traveler to safely and efficiently locate the up-curb and sidewalk if she veers while crossing the street at a signalized intersection.

** Knowing the VEHICLES IN THE CROSSWALK technique enables the traveler to safely and efficiently navigate around a vehicle that partially or fully blocks the crosswalk and to regain her line of travel when crossing the street at a signalized intersection.

Crossing streets at signalized intersections is generally taught after the traveler has had extensive exposure to traffic sounds, and has demonstrated proficiency in unsignalized intersections including the use of the APPROACH, ALIGNMENT, STREET CROSSING MECHANICS, and STREET CROSSING RECOVERY techniques.

A Special Note:
There is a very specific vocabulary related to traffic signal controls that must be learned prior to teaching safe crossings at signalized intersections. The reader is encouraged to review the definitions of these terms in the glossary before continuing. Many of these terms will also be defined in the following paragraphs. Because intersection control is becoming increasingly sophisticated and complex, a thorough understanding of the following terms is highly recommended.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Introduce street crossings with a traffic signal at two-phase, four-leg right-angle intersections that

  1. have two near parallel driving lanes,
  2. have moderate traffic on both the parallel and perpendicular streets, and
  3. do not have separate phases for turning traffic.
    • Having moderate traffic on each street can make it easier for the inexperienced traveler to distinguish the parallel and perpendicular traffic surges without the stress of dealing with a high volume of traffic. Having two near parallel lanes increases the chances that, even if a car waiting to turn holds up traffic in one lane, there usually will be a clear near parallel surge of straight through traffic in the other lane. Another option is to begin at an intersection with an accessible pedestrian signal (APS) that would give accessible information about the Walk interval. See "Notes for Teachers" for more information on APS technology.
    • Initially, instruction should be provided at intersections where the traffic signal phases are pre-timed (the length of each phase is fixed and does not vary based on the number of vehicles or pedestrians present). Ideally, there should be few or no right-turning cars.
      • — Fixed-time or pre-timed traffic signals are becoming less common. The only way to verify that a specific traffic signal is pre-timed is to contact the agency that controls the intersection (e.g., the city's traffic engineering department).

As the traveler develops skill in crossing at signalized intersections, additional instruction and experience is provided in crossing intersections with the following characteristics:

As the traveler develops skill in crossing at fixed-time signalized intersections, instruction should also be provided in crossing at intersections with actuated traffic signals (see Notes for Teachers).

SKILLS

Standard

Basic procedure to safely and efficiently cross signalized intersections. For the sake of simplicity, these basic procedures are presented as they would apply to intersections where pedestrian buttons are not present. See "Notes for Teachers" for information about actuated traffic signals, using pedestrian buttons, and accessible pedestrian signals.

  1. When the traveler hears the surge of near lane parallel traffic moving straight ahead (typically indicating the beginning of the Walk interval), she verifies that no vehicles are turning across her path at her corner and that perpendicular traffic has stopped (i.e., no red light runners); she then begins the crossing when she deems it safe.
    • The surge of near lane parallel traffic is the most common indicator of the Walk interval. Other indicators to confirm the Walk interval may include traffic on the perpendicular street coming to a stop and, in some busy areas, a surge of pedestrians leaving the curb. These latter two indicators are only secondary in nature, however, and should not be used alone to determine that it is safe to cross.
    • Beginning a crossing at the beginning of the Walk interval allows the traveler to
      • — have the maximum amount of time to cross before traffic begins moving on the perpendicular street;
      • — benefit from the "blocking" effect of the near lane parallel surging cars;
      • — begin crossing before vehicles preparing to turn onto the perpendicular street have built sufficient speed to make stopping for the traveler difficult. Toward the end of the green or on a yellow light, some cars might accelerate in order to turn onto the perpendicular street before the light turns red.
    • Note: There are some very specific exceptions to the rule of using the surge of near lane parallel traffic to identify the beginning of the Walk interval. For an explanation of these exceptions, see the section entitled, "Exceptions to Using the Near Lane Parallel Surge..." under "Notes for Teachers."
    • The traveler should not assume that a "single vehicle" near lane parallel surge is a fresh green light. The sound of a single vehicle, for example, may simply be a car leaving a parking space which can occur mid-phase.
    • In the absence of an obvious surge of near lane parallel traffic, it is often difficult to identify the beginning of the Walk interval. If the traveler is unsure or misses the beginning of the interval for any reason, she should wait until the next interval begins.
    • Using the EXTRA ARC technique before stepping off of the curb may help attract the drivers' attention to the traveler and indicate her intention to step off of the curb immediately.
  2. As she crosses the street, the traveler monitors her line of travel by listening to parallel traffic and the idling engines of the perpendicular traffic.
  3. If, while in the street, the traveler suddenly hears a vehicle approaching that will cross the path ahead of her, she adjusts her pace, slowing or quickening it as needed, to avoid contact with the vehicle.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to begin crossing at the beginning of the Walk interval (typically represented by the near lane parallel traffic surge).

Correction:
The traveler should begin crossing at the beginning of the Walk interval (typically represented by the near lane parallel traffic surge) after confirming no right turners or red light runners are in motion. Doing so maximizes the amount of time that the traveler will have to complete the crossing before the light changes. In addition, near lane parallel vehicles can help "block" vehicles from turning across the traveler's path.

Error:
The traveler begins crossing with a far lane parallel surge.

Correction:
Unless the crossing falls under "exceptions to the rule" (see "Notes for Teachers"), the traveler should only begin crossing at the beginning of the Walk interval (typically represented by the near lane parallel traffic surge) after confirming no right turners or red light runners are in motion. This ensures that she will not inadvertently step into the path of vehicles that are turning left with a green arrow.

Error:
The traveler begins her crossing with the near lane parallel surge of a bus.

Correction:
The traveler should wait for the next Walk interval before crossing. Buses often stop to let passengers board or disembark—and then surge late in the pedestrian phase. Travelers cannot rely on the surge of the bus to indicate the beginning of the Walk interval. In addition, noise from the bus motor can mask the sound of nearby vehicles such as those stopped in the crosswalk or those turning across the traveler's path (Figure 4.01). In addition, because buses often pull far forward into the intersection before beginning their turn, they may initially appear to be traveling straight through the intersection and then turn unexpectedly across the traveler's path.

Figure 4.01
Noise from the bus motor can mask the sound of nearby vehicles such as those stopped in the crosswalk or those turning across the traveler's path.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

The mechanics of crossing busy signalized intersections are the same as those used for crossing quiet residential streets, except that the traveler may often more easily use the heavier parallel traffic to establish a direction of travel for crossing or to correct the direction while crossing. In addition, the heavier parallel traffic sounds can make it easier for the traveler to identify the safest time to cross.

Basic Principles Regarding Signalized Intersections

When teaching a traveler how to cross at signalized intersections, it is important to provide instruction regarding modern traffic controls and intersection design and their effect on a traveler's ability to accurately identify the beginning of the pedestrian phase for crossing the street. This includes information on how to analyze any potential crossing for relative ease and safety, and information on the sequence and/or length of the phases of many intersections, including the fact that the sequence and phases can change at any time.

Traffic Signal Cycles and Phases

Traffic signals are cyclical and may have many different phase sequences per cycle. Here are some examples:

There are many different combinations of phases that can cause confusion for pedestrians because the phases are not consistent in order or in length at actuated intersections. In the absence of an accessible pedestrian signal (APS), it can be difficult for the traveler with a visual impairment to identify the Walk interval. See the section entitled "Accessible Pedestrian Signals" for more information on this subject.

"Split Phasing"

Split phasing allows all traffic moving in a general direction to have the green light at the same time. Here are some examples:

Pedestrian Signals

In addition to red, yellow, and green signals and arrows to direct vehicular traffic, many intersections also have pedestrian signals or "pedheads"— signals specifically designed to direct pedestrian crossings. If a pedhead is present, the pedestrian should obey its signal.

The meaning of the various pedestrian signals is as follows:

Traffic Signal Timing

Pre-timed vs. actuated intersections.

Traffic signals can be fixed-time (pre-timed), semi-actuated, or actuated.

Using pedestrian buttons.

Brief information is included here regarding pedestrian buttons. A complete treatment of the topic of pedestrian pushbuttons is beyond the scope of this book. The reader is encouraged to consult other publications for more in-depth discussions of this topic.

The purpose of a pedestrian button is to send a message to the computerized controller of the traffic signals to call for a pedestrian phase. The pedestrian button, if present, should always be pushed.

Depending on the speed with which the pedestrian walks, however, there may still be insufficient time for her to complete the crossing before the signal changes to allow vehicular movement on the perpendicular street.

Notes: At some actuated intersections, pressing the pedestrian button does not guarantee that a pedestrian Walk interval will occur with the next surge of near parallel traffic. See "Exceptions to Using Near Lane Parallel Surge at Traffic Signals."

Use the pedestrian button in the following way:

Accessible pedestrian signals.

The range and scope of accessible pedestrian signal features and designs is great; and the type of signals most commonly used varies in different parts of the world. Some of the features described are more prevalent in some countries than others. A comprehensive discussion of accessible pedestrian signals is beyond the scope of this curriculum, and the reader is encouraged to consult other publications for more in-depth discussions of this topic. However, this section provides a brief overview of pertinent issues.

Although the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires facilities and programs of state and local governments to be ‘accessible to and usable by’ individuals with disabilities in the United States (U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. DOJ, 1991), the interface between pedestrians and the computerized controllers of intersections that operate the signals is often both poorly designed and inaccessible to pedestrians who are blind in the United States. (Barlow & Franck, 2005, p. 599)

Special Challenges Posed by Modern Intersections

Changes and advances are happening rapidly in the design of traffic controls; the shape and overall design of intersections is becoming increasingly complex with the inclusion of channelized lanes, roundabouts, median strips, and even multiple roadways. In addition, due to variability in traffic signal operation at different intersections or at different points in time, crossing with the surge of near lane parallel traffic may actually not always be recommended. A brief discussion of some of these issues follows.

Channelized Right-Turn Lanes

At traffic signal controlled intersections where there is typically a large volume of vehicles making right-hand turns from one street onto the other, there may be a separate right-turn lane. The radius of this turn lane can range from small, where vehicles must travel slowly and cautiously, to very wide, where vehicles tend to turn without slowing down much at all. Such "channelized" lanes may include a designated deceleration segment (for traffic approaching the intersection) and an acceleration segment (to facilitate a smooth, efficient merging into traffic on the perpendicular street). Such lanes are usually separated from the other traffic lanes by what is called a "splitter island" or right-turn island. This triangular-shaped island may be raised or sometimes just painted onto the street. The island, if raised, may have cutout channels at street level for wheelchair accessibility.

The movement of vehicles in the channelized right-turn lane is not controlled by the traffic signal at the intersection. Traffic in channelized right-turning lanes is typically uncontrolled, but may be controlled by a yield sign, a stop sign, or a separate traffic signal. Unless there is a separate acceleration lane, the channelized right-turning vehicles must yield to traffic on the perpendicular street.

Locating the crosswalk for crossing the right-turn lane, locating the splitter island, and determining the correct time to cross can be very challenging at some intersections. It is not possible to align with traffic flow on the parallel or perpendicular street, and depending upon the size and shape of the channelized lane and the island, there is no reliable indicator for alignment that can be used at all intersections. For these reasons, a decision on whether and how to cross a channelized lane must be done on a case-by-case basis.

In order to cross a channelized lane, the traveler must first confirm that there are either no vehicles in the lane or that the vehicle(s) has yielded to the traveler. This, however, can be difficult to do. While traffic is supposed to yield to pedestrians, general experience has shown that vehicles do not stop reliably, especially if the traveler is attempting to cross at a location close to the merge point where vehicles enter the perpendicular street. Drivers either stopped at the merge point, or moving through the right-turn lane, are typically looking for oncoming traffic before merging onto the perpendicular street. Because the driver's attention is on vehicular traffic, they may not reliably notice a pedestrian who is preparing to cross the channelized right-turn lane.

Roundabouts

Roundabouts are circular intersections with specific features including channelized approaches at which traffic enters or exits the circle. Traffic entering the circle yields to traffic already moving within the circle. Roundabouts are a member of a larger group of circular intersections that include the "rotaries" and "traffic circles" found in many cities.

Channelized approaches have "splitter islands" that separate entering and exiting traffic. These islands also provide a pedestrian refuge midway through a street crossing. These triangular-shaped islands may be raised or simply painted on the road. When raised, crosswalks generally cut through them.

Crosswalks on these channelized approaches are not typically located immediately next to the circular roadway, but are often located about one to three car lengths away from the vehicular yield line.

Unlike traffic sounds at typical plus-shaped intersections, those at roundabouts are difficult to use for both initial alignment and for maintaining alignment while crossing because vehicles on the roundabout travel in curvilinear paths. Similarly, vehicles entering and exiting the roundabout do not stop (unless yielding), and their auditory movement may also project a curved path.

Due to challenges in using traffic sounds to determine one's ideal alignment for crossing, travelers may veer, contacting the curb or the curbed edge of the splitter island when crossing. Although early studies suggest that blind pedestrians are unlikely to veer enough to enter the circulatory roadway (Long, Guth, Ashmead, Emerson, & Ponchilla, 2005), such crossings should be made with extreme care. Should a traveler find that she has veered during the crossing, she can use the RECOVERY FROM VEER techniques to locate her desired position on the splitter island or the destination curb.

In addition to difficulties with alignment that travelers encounter at roundabout intersections, the design of such intersections can also make it difficult to identify the safest time to initiate a crossing (Long et al., 2005). According to Long et al., this usually means: "(1) crossing when no approaching vehicle can reach the crosswalk before the crossing is completed, (2) crossing with the expectation that approaching vehicles that can reach the crosswalk before the crossing is completed will be able to yield and then monitoring these vehicles to ensure that they yield, or (3) crossing when vehicles are stopped or stopping just upstream of the crosswalk" (2005, p. 615). Still, it is obvious that depending upon size, various physical features (e.g., terrain, number of intersecting streets, presence of a splitter island, number of lanes to be crossed), and traffic flow, crossing at roundabouts can range from difficult to unsafe.

Lastly, as quiet vehicles become more common, increasing concern arises with regard to travelers' ability to reliably hear approaching traffic, identify crossable gaps in traffic, and detect vehicles that have yielded upstream, especially when needed auditory information can potentially be masked by the sounds of vehicles moving on the circular part of the roadway.

Exceptions to Using the Near Lane Parallel Surge as an Indication of the Beginning of the Walk Interval

While the near lane parallel surge usually marks the beginning of the Walk interval, it is important for the traveler to know that at some intersections the near lane parallel surge may not coincide with the Walk interval.

Crossing with the far lane parallel surge.

In most cases, it is best to cross with the traffic surge in the near parallel lane(s). If there is no near lane parallel surge, the traveler can cross with the far lane parallel traffic surge if she can confirm that the phase does not include a green arrow permitting vehicles to turn across her path.

There are instances when it might be easier to hear the traffic surge in the far parallel lane(s).

Note: Without a near lane parallel surge, vehicles from the far parallel lane that are turning onto the perpendicular street will not be "blocked" by vehicles traveling straight-through in the near parallel lane. The traveler should use extra caution when crossing.

Note: Although not common, a traffic signal at a specific intersection may give the Walk sign with the far lane parallel surge and not the near lane parallel surge. This would be very important for the traveler to know so that she can request the installation of an APS.

Crossing at an intersection with an "Exclusive Pedestrian Phase," also known as a "Scramble Phase."

During the exclusive pedestrian phase, all vehicles have a red light and must stop while pedestrians cross the street (although right-turn-on-red may still be permitted). In such situations, there are separate traffic signal phases for each of the following: parallel traffic, perpendicular traffic, and pedestrian traffic. The traveler should cross only after confirming that no traffic is in motion on either street.

Although pedestrians can cross in any direction (even diagonally) during the exclusive pedestrian phase of the cycle, it is advisable for the blind traveler to make two perpendicular crossings instead of a diagonal crossing to best maintain her orientation. As a note, without parallel moving traffic, some travelers find it more difficult to maintain a straight line of travel across the street.

The exclusive pedestrian phase may be automatic or activated by a pedestrian button. An APS would give the traveler access to the pedestrian signal so that she would know when the Walk interval begins.

Crossing at an intersection with a "Leading Pedestrian Interval"—The pedestrian Walk interval begins before the signal turns green for near parallel traffic.

At these intersections, traffic on the perpendicular street will have a red light, and the "Walk" interval for crossing will begin for a specified period of time (usually 2-4 seconds) before the near lane parallel traffic receives a green light. In this situation, pedestrians begin crossing with the visual Walk indication after confirming that no vehicles are moving across their path.

Unless an APS is present, the traveler without functional travel vision may not know when the leading pedestrian interval begins. If she begins her crossing with the delayed near lane parallel surge, she may not have sufficient time remaining to complete the crossing before the perpendicular traffic gets the green light.

Crossing at an intersection where the Walk indication may be displayed with the second near lane parallel surge.

In some instances, the traveler may press the pedestrian button, but the Walk interval will not be activated until the second near lane parallel surge. This can occur when the traffic controller is coordinating the timing for two or more signalized intersections. In order to keep the arterial street moving most efficiently, for example, the central controller may first change the light for the secondary street to green only long enough to allow one car or just a few cars to go—but not enough time to allow a pedestrian to cross the arterial street (the "Don't Walk" indicator will be lit). The Walk interval and "Walk" light would then be activated during the next phase for near lane parallel traffic. Whether or not the Walk interval occurs with the first or second near lane parallel phase can change at any time or day of the week as traffic volume changes.

This is a situation where an accessible pedestrian signal would be vital for a pedestrian who does not have sufficient vision to see the "Walk" indicator.

Traffic officer directing movement of vehicles and pedestrians at an intersection.

Generally, the traffic officer's authority and control over an intersection supersedes all other controls.

The traffic officer may control an intersection with a whistle and verbal commands in addition to gestural signals.

Generally, the traffic officer controls the traffic in a pattern similar to a traffic signal (i.e., vehicles at a traffic officer controlled intersection usually act in groups rather than individually).

At an intersection controlled by a traffic officer or school crossing guard, the traveler should cross as directed by the traffic officer or crossing guard. If no specific directions are given, the traveler should determine the appropriate time to cross by monitoring traffic patterns. She should use extra caution.

Intersection Analysis

As intersections become more complex, it is often recommended that before crossing (especially at an unfamiliar intersection), the traveler listen to several light cycles to determine the order in which traffic from different directions begins to move, the presence of separate turn phases, and the length of each phase of the cycle. The traveler also identifies any variability in the phases or traffic patterns.

In analyzing the intersection, the traveler considers the following features:

As intersection design and traffic controls become more complicated, however, some orientation & mobility professionals recommend that before making any crossing, even at familiar intersections, the traveler analyze traffic patterns and phase sequences before crossing. Doing so will help the traveler to detect any changes or unusual circumstances at the intersection that can affect safety or street crossing timing. Unusual circumstances might include such things as construction, an accident at the intersection, or a large vehicle parked close to the corner. Such a vehicle can form a sound shadow that minimizes the traveler's ability to hear approaching traffic and/or block drivers' views of the traveler. Other noteworthy conditions include traffic signals that are not working or are flashing red or yellow, a change in phase sequences, and weather conditions.

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Median Strips

EXECUTING

STREET CROSSING MECHANICS

PURPOSE

To cross streets that have varying traffic patterns, traffic controls, and amounts of traffic. This technique is used in conjunction with APPROACH, ALIGNMENT, STREET CROSSING TIMING, and, depending on specific intersection features, with supplementary street crossing techniques.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Stairs With a Cane*
Street Crossing Alignment
Street Crossing Approach

*Knowing the STAIRS WITH A CANE technique may help the traveler learn how to anchor the cane and walk up to a down-curb that she has contacted at the intersection and also to manipulate the cane when walking up to an up-curb that she contacts after crossing the street.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

This technique is often taught in conjunction with UNSIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS (No Traffic Present—also called "All Clear").

Characteristics of an Ideal Teaching Environment

Intersections at which there are definite periods with no traffic in the area are ideal for teaching these skills to travelers. If such an intersection is not available, then start at intersections where at least the perpendicular traffic is controlled by a stop sign and where there are long and definite breaks in traffic.

Initially practicing crossings at such an intersection allows the traveler to concentrate on the mechanics of crossing the street without having to deal with any stress or distraction that may be caused by nearby traffic. As the traveler will discover in time, street crossings are often easier to perform when there is nearby parallel traffic because of the additional cues available to assist with alignment (Jacobson, 1993).

It is often easiest to introduce STREET CROSSING MECHANICS in an area where there are no parkways. This allows the traveler to practice the basics of crossing the street without the need to perform the STREET CROSSING RECOVERY technique if she does veer away from the parallel street.

As the traveler develops skill in performing STREET CROSSING MECHANICS in the above environments, additional instruction and experience is provided at intersections with the following features.

Finally, the traveler is given the opportunity to further practice and refine this technique in conjunction with learning other street crossing techniques including STREET CROSSING RECOVERY, VEHICLES IN THE CROSSWALK, crossing at SIGNALIZED INTERSECTIONS, and MEDIAN STRIPS as well as strategies for crossing at a variety of intersection shapes.

SKILLS

Street Crossing Mechanics

This is the basic method used to complete a street crossing including stepping onto the curb at the destination corner. This method is an integral part of all street crossings.

  1. The traveler consciously maintains her body alignment facing forward and mentally projects a straight line to the destination corner.
  2. The traveler extends the cane forward keeping the tip down. She then pauses to verify that it is safe to cross. If she wishes, the traveler can also use the EXTRA ARC technique to attempt to attract the attention of drivers and signal them that she is about to leave the curb (see later section entitled "Alerting Drivers: Extra Arc").
  3. The traveler steps off of the curb in-step with her cane. If she has been standing with one foot ahead of the other, she steps off with her "trailing foot" (the foot farthest from the curb). If her feet are positioned side-by-side, she can step off with either foot.
  4. Walking at a normal speed or slightly faster, the traveler crosses the street using the TOUCH technique and contacts the destination curb with her cane.
    • The increased speed often assists in maintaining a straight line of travel that should direct the traveler to the up-curb. The traveler, however, should never run or walk faster than is safe for the environmental conditions.
    • While crossing, the traveler should continuously monitor her direction and position utilizing available sensory information such as the sounds of parallel vehicular traffic, idling perpendicular traffic, pedestrians, and sound sources on the destination corner. The traveler also monitors the movement or traffic around her as she crosses by performing a "lane-by-lane" analysis, focusing attention in the direction from which traffic would be approaching (to her left during the first half of the crossing and to her right during the second half).
    • The traveler should maintain her own line of travel across the street and not purposely follow other pedestrians unless she is certain that they are also walking directly across the street. A pedestrian may intentionally veer, for example, when crossing a street to go over to a parked car or to step up on the sidewalk at a point distant from the corner.
      • — Some travelers in large, congested cities find that when a very large crowd of people is crossing the street, they can follow the flow of the pedestrian crowd to the destination corner. In doing so, however, the traveler must still maintain her own orientation to traffic and other information to ensure that she does not inadvertently follow the crowd to a position other than the destination curb.
    • In some environments, the traveler can use the crown of the street to monitor how far across the street she has traveled. She can also use the camber of the street as it lowers toward the destination corner (for drainage purposes) to indicate the location of the destination curb.
    • In a relatively familiar environment, the traveler can use time-distance judgment to estimate the distance that she has traveled across the street.
    • Some travelers find it helpful to lower their arc height or switch to the "Constant Contact" version of the TOUCH technique as they approach the destination corner to more easily detect a shallow curb, if one is present.
  5. When her cane contacts the curb on the destination corner, the traveler "anchors" the cane against the riser of the curb and walks up to it.
    • The traveler should slow her pace at the last moment when she anticipates contacting the curb to allow herself sufficient reaction time when her cane actually does contact the curb.
    • Travelers with good kinesthetic awareness may "clear" the sidewalk above the curb while moving up to the curb's edge.
  6. Lifting the cane over the curb edge, the traveler "clears" the sidewalk to detect any obstacles that may be present.
    • If the sidewalk is obstructed, the traveler can use the STREET CROSSING RECOVERY technique in order to locate a clear space in which to step onto the sidewalk.
      • — Because most obstructions (e.g., poles, mailboxes) are located near the inside shoreline of a sidewalk, the traveler will most often find a clear path on the side of the obstacle that is closest to the parallel street.
  7. The traveler steps up onto the curb and notes the relative position of parallel and perpendicular traffic, if present, to confirm her orientation at the corner.
  8. The traveler then continues travel when she is ready.

Signaling Traffic That the Traveler is Not Ready to Cross

An effective method for indicating to drivers who have stopped at an intersection that the traveler is not planning to cross at that time. Such signaling will often encourage drivers to move ahead, clearing the intersection for the traveler to cross when she is ready.

  1. The traveler assumes a body position that clearly indicates that she is not ready to cross. Some examples follow.
    • Moving one foot backward and placing her cane at her side. By moving only one foot backward and keeping one foot in position, the traveler gives the impression of moving backward while maintaining her line of direction. Some travelers also choose to turn their heads away from the street to reinforce the impression that they are not planning to cross at that time.
    • Bringing her cane to a vertical position near her body. If she wishes, the traveler can turn her head to face the driver and then shake her head as if to say, "No, I'm not crossing now."
  2. Notes:
    • The traveler should never assume that an idling vehicle has stopped for her; while this may be true, it may also be possible that the vehicle has stopped for another reason and that the driver is not paying attention to the traveler.
    • If the traveler hears a vehicle either stopped at an intersection or slowing to a stop when she is not yet ready to cross, she should never wave to the driver to go ahead. The potential exists that an inattentive driver might follow her directions in lieu of looking for oncoming traffic. This same precaution applies to the instructor as well.

Alerting Drivers: Extra Arc

A simple method to attempt to increase drivers’ attention to the traveler who is about to step into the street. The movement of the cane may attract drivers' attention and alert the driver that the traveler is about to step off of the curb.

  1. When the traveler is ready to begin the street crossing, she moves the cane in an arc to one side, then to the other side (two taps).
    • This allows the traveler time to verify her judgment that it is safe to cross and also attempts to signal drivers that she is about to leave the curb.
  2. The traveler then steps off the curb in-step with the third tap of the cane and begins crossing the street.

Crossing Alleys

  1. The traveler crosses an alley using the same procedures for crossing a street.
    • Alleys vary greatly in their physical features, can sometimes be difficult to identify, and can be mistaken for a street. Some alleys even have curb edges where the sidewalk meets them, similar to streets. Some possible indicators that the traveler has arrived at an alley include
      • — distance traveled (alleys are often located at the midpoint of the block);
      • — absence of large amounts of perpendicular traffic;
      • — texture of surface below curb (e.g., cinders or gravel vs. asphalt).

      In addition, alleys are generally narrower than streets, and in a business area, the building line is often directly adjacent to the edge of the alley rather than being set back by a sidewalk.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to stop, clear, and listen for traffic before stepping off of the curb.

Correction:
Stopping, clearing, and listening for traffic before stepping off of the curb helps to ensure that the traveler will not inadvertently step out in front of an approaching vehicle.

Error:
Upon hearing a vehicle approaching on the perpendicular street while she is crossing, the traveler turns around and returns to the curb.

Correction:
In general, the traveler should not turn around, but rather should continue forward and adjust her pace accordingly—slowing, stopping, or speeding up depending on her own judgment of the traffic situation. Drivers expect pedestrians in crosswalks to continue walking forward. If the traveler turns around, this may surprise or confuse drivers and lead to an accident.

Error:
The traveler fails to clear before stepping up onto the curb after crossing the street.

Correction:
Clearing before stepping up onto the curb minimizes the possibility that the traveler will walk into an obstacle above the curb.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Median Strips
Signalized Intersections
Street Crossing Recovery
Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Crosswalk



STREET CROSSING RECOVERY

PURPOSE

To recover from an inadvertent veer during a street crossing and locate the sidewalk on the opposite side of the street

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Street Crossing Mechanics
Three-Point
Touch & Drag
Upper Hand & Forearm (Modified)

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Introduce this technique in a quiet, residential area that has distinct curbs and little or no traffic. Give the traveler experience in recovering from veers both toward, and away from, the parallel street in areas where there are no parked vehicles in the way and where there is a parkway that

After the traveler has mastered the basic mechanics of street crossing recovery, practice this technique in environments where the traveler will contact parked vehicles or other obstacles blocking the curb for which she is looking.

Practice this technique in areas with increased traffic, but which still have a separate parking lane.

Finally, practice this technique in areas with traffic moving in the curb lane (where there is no separate parking lane).

Opportunities to practice this technique often present themselves naturally during the course of instruction in travel.

SKILLS

Introductory Concepts

Types of veers.

When a traveler veers, there are generally seven possible locations on the opposite curb at which she might land (Jacobson, 1993); see Figure 6.01, a-g.

Figure 6.01
There are several possible travel paths when crossing a perpendicular street. All but (a) are undesirable as they each depict a form of veering.

Figure 6.01a. Crossing to the intended street corner.

Figure 6.01b. Crossing the perpendicular street with a veer away from the parallel street and locating the far perpendicular curb too far from the corner.

Figure 6.01c. Crossing the perpendicular street with a veer slightly into the parallel street and locating the near parallel curb.

Figure 6.01d. Crossing to the diagonally opposite corner and locating the far parallel curb.

Figure 6.01e. Crossing to the diagonally opposite corner and locating the far perpendicular curb.

Figure 6.01f. Crossing the parallel street and locating the near perpendicular curb.

Figure 6.01g. Crossing the parallel street and locating the far parallel curb.

Causes of veering.

There are several factors that can cause the traveler to veer during a street crossing. Some common causes are in the following list.

Identifying a veer.

Toward the Parallel Street Away From the Parallel Street
Time-Distance Information

The distance traveled during the crossing appears greater than the width of the perpendicular street.

The distance from the starting corner to the crown appears shorter than the distance from the crown to the traveler's present location.
Time-Distance Information

Unless the veer is severe, the distance traveled during the crossing compares closely with the original estimate of the width of the perpendicular street.

Similarly, unless the veer is severe, the distance from the starting corner to the crown appears similar to the distance from the crown to the traveler's location at the opposite curb.
Proprioceptive Information

The crown appears to incline, then level off, then maintain or decline in a lateral (sideways) direction toward the nearest curb rather than in a forward direction.
Proprioceptive Information

The position of the crown of the street and the camber as it slopes toward the curb both appear correct.
Tactile Information

Contact with the parallel curb instead of the perpendicular curb
  • The side on which the curb is found will indicate if the traveler has veered slightly into the parallel street (see Figure 6.01c) or made a diagonal crossing (see Figure 6.01d).
Contact with the front or back of a parked vehicle
  • Note that in some cases, cars are parked perpendicular to the curb. The traveler must rely on traffic sounds and other clues to assist in this situation if she is in an unfamiliar area.
Contact with an idling parallel vehicle
Tactile Information

Contact with the perpendicular curb
  • In the case of an extreme veer, the angle of the traveler's foot to the contacted curb can indicate the direction of veer (i.e., if her right foot is closer to the curb than her left, she has veered to the left and vice versa). Use of such information, however, may only be reliable in areas with square corners.
Contact with the sides of parked vehicles
  • Note that in some cases, cars are parked perpendicular to the curb. The traveler must rely on traffic sounds and other clues to assist in this situation if she is in an unfamiliar area.
Contact with an idling perpendicular vehicle

Contact with a median strip that does not extend into the crosswalk

When "clearing" at a destination corner, contact with objects usually located away from the corner (e.g., grass parkways, bushes, trees)
Auditory Information

Close proximity of parallel traffic sounds and the relatively far distance of perpendicular traffic sounds; sounds of idling perpendicular traffic

The sound of parallel traffic appears to be more in front of the traveler than on the side.

Location of pedestrian sounds

Location of sounds on the destination corner relative to the traveler's present position
Auditory Information

Close proximity of perpendicular traffic sounds and the relatively far distance of parallel traffic sounds

The sound of parallel traffic appears to be more behind the traveler than on the side.

Location of pedestrian sounds

Location of sounds on the destination corner relative to the traveler's present position
Thermal and Cutaneous Information*

Sun, wind, heat from engines of idling traffic, etc.

* Such information may not be consistently available and may only give gross information relative to veer, thus it can be unreliable.
Thermal and Cutaneous Information*

Sun, wind, etc.

* Such information may not be consistently available and may only give gross information relative to veer, thus it can be unreliable.

Note: Some travelers may intentionally veer away from the parallel street due to fear of traffic that is moving on that street. Except in special circumstances, intentional veering should not be encouraged because of the potential for contact with traffic on the perpendicular street and the additional time needed to move around parked cars and locate the sidewalk following a veer.

In-Course Recovery

In-course recovery is the safest and most efficient method of recovering from a veer.

  1. If the traveler realizes that she is veering before she has traversed the entire width of the street, she can alter her direction of travel to resume her original course.

    If the traveler believes that she has already passed the destination curb, she can turn 90 degrees (in the direction of the parallel curb) and walk to locate the parallel curb of the destination corner (see Figure 6.02).

    Figure 6.02
    If the traveler believes that she has already passed the opposite curb, she can turn 90 degrees (toward the parallel curb) and walk toward the parallel curb of the destination corner.
    • Some orientation & mobility specialists recommend turning exactly 100 degrees to minimize the time in the street and/or minimize the distance to the curb (LaGrow & Weessies, 1994). If, however, the traveler has actually identified the veer before she has passed the corner by a substantial distance, this may cause her to bypass the corner and move into the perpendicular street (see Figure 6.03a). Turning less than 90 degrees can cause the traveler to walk in the street for an extended period of time (see Figure 6.03b; Hill & Ponder, 1976).

      Figure 6.03a
      If the traveler identifies the veer before she has passed the corner by a substantial distance, turning more than 90 degrees may cause her to bypass the corner and move into the perpendicular street.
      Figure 6.03b
      Failure to turn less sharply than 90 degrees can cause the traveler to walk in the street for an extended period of time.

Recovery at the Curb

An effective method of identifying the direction of a veer and of locating the sidewalk to resume travel

  1. If the traveler fails to find the sidewalk when "clearing" at the destination corner (indicating a veer away from the parallel street or a late recovery from a veer toward the parallel street), she should sweep her cane at sidewalk level from midline to each side to locate the sidewalk.
    • Since the majority of veers cause the traveler to arrive at the curb at a point distant from the corner (a) as opposed to the small area located at the point of the corner between the apex of the corner and the sidewalk (b), it may be most efficient to check to the parallel street side first (see Figure 6.04a and 6.04b).

      Figure 6.04a
      The majority of veers cause the traveler to arrive at the curb at a point distant from the corner.

      Figure 6.04b
      Some veers, however, cause the traveler to arrive at the small area located at the point of the corner between the apex of the corner and the sidewalk.
      • Sweeping with the cane to each side will often locate the sidewalk if the traveler has only veered a few feet from her intended line of travel.
  2. If, while sweeping, the traveler locates the sidewalk, she follows the curb to it using the THREE-POINT technique, then clears and steps up onto the sidewalk.

    If the traveler does not locate the sidewalk while sweeping, she should turn toward the corner and carry through with one of the following possibilities.
    • If there is no danger from traffic passing close to the curb, the traveler can follow the curb using the THREE-POINT technique to locate the sidewalk, then clear and step up onto it.
    • If there is any potential danger from traffic passing close to the curb, the traveler can step up onto the parkway immediately and do either of the following options:
      • — Follow the curb to the sidewalk using the TOUCH & DRAG technique;
      • — Cross over the parkway (if possible) using the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique to protect her face from contact with guy wires or low tree limbs that may be present. Upon reaching the perpendicular sidewalk, the traveler can then turn in her desired direction of travel (following the perpendicular sidewalk to the parallel sidewalk if she wishes to resume travel in her original direction).

    Notes: There are a number of ways that the traveler can determine whether she has arrived at the curb at point (a) or at point (b) as shown in Figure 6.04.
    • If the traveler contacts a rounded curb, this may indicate that she has contacted the curb at a point between the sidewalk and the parallel street.
    • Stop signs and other traffic and street signs are most often located a greater distance from the parallel street than is the sidewalk. Contacting one of these may indicate to the traveler that the sidewalk is located closer to the parallel street.
    • Some corners are very gently rounded, making it difficult for the traveler to identify when she is rounding the apex of the corner in her effort to locate the sidewalk. A strategy to enable her to identify whether she has located the sidewalk that continues in her original direction of travel or whether she has passed the apex of the corner and located the perpendicular sidewalk is described below.
      • — If the parallel street is on the left when the traveler steps up on the sidewalk, she can follow the left grass line for four to five steps. If she finds a curb (see Figure 6.05a), she simply repeats the process to find her sidewalk (see Figure 6.05b).

        Figure 6.05. After trailing the curb edge to locate the sidewalk, the traveler can verify that she has located the sidewalk that continues in her original direction of travel, and not passed the apex of the corner to locate the perpendicular sidewalk, by following the sidewalk grassline on the parallel street side for four to five steps.

        Figure 6.05a. If she finds a curb, she has verified that her veer was away from the parallel street.

        Figure 6.05b. She then simply repeats the process to find the sidewalk continuing in her original direction of travel.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler fails to use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique when crossing over a parkway.

Correction:
Using the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique when stepping up onto a parkway enables the traveler to protect her face from bumping into objects such as guy wires and low tree branches.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Areas Without Sidewalks
Median Strips
Signalized Intersections*

*Knowing the STREET CROSSING RECOVERY technique enables the traveler to safely and efficiently locate the destination curb and sidewalk if she veers while crossing the street at a signalized intersection.



VEHICLES IN THE CROSSWALK

PURPOSE

To walk safely around any vehicles that have pulled forward into the crosswalk and that the traveler subsequently encounters while crossing the street. This technique can also be used to walk around a vehicle in the traffic lane that the traveler encounters after inadvertently veering away from the parallel street.

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Unsignalized Intersections
Vehicles in the Travel Path

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Opportunities to learn and practice this technique often present themselves naturally during the course of instruction.

If it is deemed helpful to teach this technique to a given traveler in a protected environment prior to performing this technique during an actual street crossing, it is possible to "stage" this situation with the help of one or two accomplices. This situation can be staged in an alleyway or at a quiet intersection where traffic on the parallel and perpendicular streets can be carefully monitored and controlled as necessary. As the traveler negotiates the vehicle "in the crosswalk," a second accomplice can even drive by, providing controlled "parallel traffic."

SKILLS

Standard

A safe and effective method for walking around a vehicle encountered while crossing a street

  1. If the traveler hears a vehicle pull across the crosswalk before she steps off of the curb, she can wait until the vehicle has moved out of the way before she begins to cross. This is especially important if the traveler suspects that the vehicle has pulled so far into the crosswalk that passing it would put her dangerously close to parallel traffic.
  2. If, while crossing the street, the traveler encounters a vehicle that does not completely block the crosswalk, she can walk around the end of the vehicle (on the parallel street side) using the VEHICLES IN THE TRAVEL PATH technique. The traveler projects and follows a straight line of travel from the bumper of the vehicle to the destination corner (see Figure 7.01).

    Figure 7.01
    If the vehicle partially blocks the crosswalk, the traveler can then project and follow a straight line of travel from the front corner of the vehicle to the opposite curb.
    • If the traveler feels that the vehicle totally blocks the crosswalk (and that she has not veered away from the parallel street), she can either a) project and follow a straight line of travel from the bumper of the vehicle to the destination corner, or b) walk around the front of the vehicle to a point on the vehicle's other side that is opposite where she initially contacted the vehicle, and then project and follow a straight line of travel to the opposite curb (see Figure 7.02).

      Figure 7.02
      If the vehicle totally blocks the crosswalk, the traveler can then walk around the end of the vehicle closest to the perpendicular street to a point on the vehicle's other side that is opposite where she initially contacted the vehicle, then project and follow a straight line of travel to the opposite curb.
    • If the traveler contacts a vehicle within the first step or so off of the curb, she can choose to either return to the curb and wait for the next traffic cycle or she can continue the crossing if she deems it safe.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
The traveler walks around a vehicle encountered in the crosswalk by passing on the side of the vehicle away from the parallel street.

Correction:
The traveler should always pass a vehicle encountered in the crosswalk toward the parallel street side. This makes her most readily seen by drivers and prevents her from inadvertently stepping into the path of a vehicle moving in the next lane.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

During the early stages of training, it may be helpful to warn the traveler before she begins her crossing that a vehicle is partially or completely blocking the crosswalk. This can help to eliminate anxiety that might otherwise be caused by unexpectedly encountering an obstacle during a crossing.

RELATED TECHNIQUES

Signalized Intersections*

* Knowing the VEHICLES IN THE CROSSWALK technique enables the traveler to safely and efficiently navigate around a vehicle that partially or fully blocks the crosswalk and to regain her line of travel when crossing the street at a signalized intersection.



MEDIAN STRIPS

PURPOSE

To safely and efficiently cross a median strip that is encountered while crossing a street

PREREQUISITE TECHNIQUES

Signalized Intersections
Street Crossing Recovery
Three-Point*
Touch & Drag
Upper Hand & Forearm**

* If it is necessary to step up onto a median strip during a street crossing and there is an object on the strip that blocks her path (e.g., bush, sign, pole), the traveler may use the THREE-POINT technique to find a clear place onto which she can step and then prepare to complete her crossing at the appropriate time.

** Knowing the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique can protect the traveler from unwanted head or upper body contact with objects (i.e., protruding signs, traffic signals) that are often located on median strips.

TEACHING ENVIRONMENTS

Median strips may be of any width. There may be room on the median strip that allows the traveler to step up onto it, or there may be structures or landscaping that prevent her from doing so. In many cities, median strips are utilized as bus or streetcar stops. Usually located in the middle of the street, some median strips end at the inside border of the pedestrian crosswalk (see Figure 8.01). Other median strips actually extend into the crosswalk with or without a pedestrian path cut through them (see Figure 8.02).

Figure 8.01
This median strip does not extend into the crosswalk.

Figure 8.02
This median strip extends into the crosswalk and has a pedestrian path cut through it.

Give the traveler experience crossing streets that have differing median strip configurations:

Introduce this technique at streets that have clear surges of near parallel traffic and a minimum amount of traffic on the perpendicular street. Having less traffic on the perpendicular street can minimize the anxiety that many new travelers experience when they stand on a median strip and hear traffic moving on both sides of the median strip at the same time.

Opportunities to practice this technique often present themselves naturally during the course of instruction when traveling in business areas and when crossing at signalized intersections.

SKILLS

If the Median Strip Does Protrude Into the Crosswalk

To safely and efficiently negotiate a contacted median strip if it protrudes into the crosswalk. If the traveler is not certain that the median strip protrudes into the crosswalk, she should follow the procedures described in the next section "If the median strip does not protrude into the crosswalk."

The traveler can attempt to cross the entire street in one cycle with the following procedure.

  1. The traveler steps onto the median strip, remembering to first clear with her cane.
    • In some areas there are poles with signs or traffic signals at face height on median strips (see Figure 8.03). The traveler may use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique to protect her face as she steps onto, and traverses, a median strip. This is especially important in an unfamiliar area.

      Figure 8.03
      The traveler uses the UPPER HAND & FOREARM (Modified) technique to protect her face from unwanted contact with protruding hazards (e.g., signs, low traffic signals) located on the median strip.
  2. She can then cross to the far side of the median strip, locate the edge (e.g., down-curb) with her cane, and then step down to continue the crossing.

    Notes: The traveler can sometimes determine whether or not a median strip protrudes into the crosswalk by the angle at which she contacts it. If the traveler contacts a median strip that appears to be perpendicular to her path, then either the median strip extends across the crosswalk, or the traveler may not have veered enough to need to correct her direction of travel. If she contacts a median strip at a sufficiently large angle to suggest a possible veer away from the parallel street, then she has, indeed, most likely veered. If the traveler is uncertain whether or not she contacted a median strip that extends into the crosswalk, or has possibly veered and contacted the median strip outside of the crosswalk, she should follow the procedures in the method below, "If the median strip does not protrude into the crosswalk."

    When the length of the Walk interval is too short to allow the traveler to traverse the median strip and complete the crossing in one cycle, the traveler will generally find it safer to wait on the median strip for the next near Walk interval before finishing her crossing. The decision to wait or complete the crossing will generally depend upon the size of the street, the length of the fixed-time cycle, and the traveler's familiarity with the intersection.

    Similarly, when the intersection is controlled by a traffic-actuated signal, the traveler will generally find it safer to wait on the median strip for the next Walk interval before finishing her crossing.

If the Median Strip Does Not Protrude Into the Crosswalk

To safely and efficiently negotiate a contacted median strip if it does not protrude into the crosswalk

The traveler should try to cross the entire street during one pedestrian phase without contacting the strip. If the traveler does contact the median strip, she should do the following:

  1. Step onto the median strip, remembering to first clear with her cane. She should also use the UPPER HAND & FOREARM technique if she is unfamiliar with the median strip or if there are objects on it that she might otherwise contact with her head or upper body.
  2. She can then turn toward the parallel street and walk down the middle of the median strip to its end. If the strip is very narrow, she may need to follow the edge of the median strip using the TOUCH & DRAG technique. In this case, because they are close to moving traffic, some travelers find it more comfortable to stop moving when perpendicular traffic is in motion and to walk toward the end of the median strip when traffic is moving only on the parallel street.
  3. Upon reaching the end of the median strip, the traveler positions herself to cross the remainder of the street at the next cycle. Some travelers prefer to stand one step back from the edge of the median strip while waiting due to the proximity of moving perpendicular traffic.

GENERAL MODIFICATIONS

If it is impossible to step up onto a median strip due to the presence of bushes or other objects on it, the traveler should follow the edge of the median strip toward the parallel street using the THREE-POINT technique until she finds an opening onto which she can step. If she reaches the end of the median strip without finding an opening, the traveler then turns and completes her street crossing. It is important that she do this as quickly as possible, not spending any unnecessary time in the street.

COMMON ERRORS AND CORRECTIONS

Error:
After stepping up onto a median strip following a veer, the traveler walks across the strip to the far side and prepares to cross.

Correction:
The traveler should walk toward the parallel street and locate the end of the median strip to wait for the next Walk interval. This positions her to complete the crossing most safely.

Error:
After stepping up onto a median strip, moving toward the parallel street, and locating the end of the median strip, the traveler fails to wait for a new Walk interval before completing the crossing.

Correction:
If the traveler is familiar with the crossing and judges that she still has time to complete the crossing, she may do so. If there is any doubt, however, the traveler should wait for the new Walk interval to ensure that she will have sufficient time to complete the crossing before the signal turns red. Depending upon the length of the signal phase and the amount of time spent negotiating the median strip, it may be impossible to complete the crossing safely in the first cycle.

NOTES FOR TEACHERS

RELATED TECHNIQUES

None

REFERENCES

Barlow, J., & Franck, L. (2005). Crossroads: Modern interactive intersections and accessible pedestrian signals. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 599-610.

Barlow, J., Bentzen, B., & Franck, L. (2010). Teaching travel at complex intersections. In W. Wiener, R. Welsh, & B. Blasch (eds.), Foundations of orientation and mobility (3rd ed., Vol. 2, pp. 352-419). New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Hill, E., & Ponder, P. (1976). Orientation and mobility techniques: A guide for the practitioner. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

Jacobson, W. (1993). The art and science of teaching orientation and mobility to persons with visual impairments. New York: American Foundation for the Blind.

LaGrow, S., & Weessies, M. (1994). Orientation & mobility: Techniques for independence. New Zealand: The Dunmore Press Limited.

Long, R., Guth, D., Ashmead, D., Emerson, R. W., & Ponchillia, P. (2005). Modern roundabouts: Access by pedestrians who are blind. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 99, 611-621.

Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2010, Pub. L. No. 111-373, § 30111 (2011). Retrieved from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s111-841

Rosen, S. (2010). Developing criteria and judgment of safety for crossing streets with gaps in traffic. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 93, 447-450.

Sauerburger, D. (1999). Developing criteria and judgment of safety for crossing streets with gaps in traffic. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness, 93, 447-450.

Scheffers, W., & Myers, L. (2009). Timing of street crossings for travelers who are blind and visually impaired. Unpublished reader, Department of Special Education, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, CA.

U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration. (2009). Manual on uniform traffic control devices. Retrieved from http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/kno_2009.htm



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Street Crossing Techniques

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