Analyzing Pedestrian Behavior at Signalized Intersections: Does Intersection Type Affect Pedestrian Behavior?

Author(s): Miladi, Waygood

Poster Presentation:

3C Miladi



Traffic safety as a public health priority is an important issue. Worldwide, roughly 1.2 million transportation related fatalities and fifty million traffic related injuries occur each year (1). More than half of these injuries and fatalities involve pedestrians. In urban contexts, pedestrians should be a primary concern, and systems must be created that function safely and time-efficiently for them. Many parameters are involved including: the types of street junctions; methods of traffic management; the types and number of conflict points; the types of traffic management equipment; the types of traffic safety assessment criteria. Pedestrian and driver behaviour affect the potential of a collision occurring in the network, including while pedestrians are crossing the street at a signalized intersection. A pedestrian who rushes to cross a street may do so because of the time allocated for crossing, or they may wish to limit their exposure time. A pedestrian who is nervous may look around, while one who is comfortable or confident in their safety may only do limited head movement. Does the intersection design and context affect such behaviors? What intersection features are associated with such pedestrian behaviour?


The primary goal of this research is to examine how different intersections affect pedestrian behaviour.


Pedestrian behaviour was observed at 12 intersections in two cities, Quebec City and Montreal (total 24 intersections). Research assistants noted walking speed and head movement at different stages of intersection use: approach, during crossing, finishing crossing. Head movement and walking speed are used as proxy measures for a sense of safety and comfort.
Chi-squared analysis is used to determine whether statistical differences exist in the frequency of such behaviors across the intersections. Then, intersections are identified that have behaviors that fall outside the average plus standard deviation (both more and less). The context and characteristics of these intersections are examined for differences.


Analyses have not yet been completed, though statistical differences have been found for these behaviors between intersections. Observational data collecting revealed that pedestrian behavior such as head movement and walking speeds across intersections was significant.


There are many factors of the intersections to consider such as: allocated time (with respect to crossing distance), vehicle-pedestrian interaction frequency, refuge island, number of lanes, traffic volume, etc.


This study aims to find how pedestrian behavior like head movement and walking speed, as measures of pedestrian safety and comfort, vary across intersections. The results of this study will be useful for planners and engineers to design facilities with high safety level, efficiency, and improved pedestrian comfort.

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