Tactics

Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons

Rectangular rapid-flashing beacons typically consists of two light- emitting-diode (LED) beacons on either side of a roadside pedestrian-warning sign that flash in a left-to-right pattern when pedestrians cross the street. The flashers, which use an irregular pattern like those on police vehicles, are turned on either when a pedestrian pushes a manual push button or when a pedestrian automatically triggers a pedestrian- detection system. Rectangular rapid-flashing beacons can also be called Rapid-Flash System, Stutter Flash, or LED Beacons.

Guidance
  • Install RRFBs in conjunction with regulatory/ warning signs and markers except for Stop, Do Not Enter, Wrong Way, and Speed Limit signs
  • Keep RRFBs unlit when there are no pedestrians present
  • Install an accompanying regulatory sign that says “when flashing”
  • Activate RRFBs by manual push buttons or automated passive-pedestrian detection
  • Use solar panel units to power RRFBs
  • Install devices with push button locator tones and an audible message that states “yellow lights are flashing” to meet ADA / PROWAG guidelines
  • Install RRFBs at medians as well as roadside locations for increased driver visibility and yielding
Benefits
  • Provides a less expensive alternative to traffic signals
  • Increases driver yield-to-pedestrian rates at crosswalks compared with standard pedestrian-crossing warning signs and markings
  • Increases driver yield-to-pedestrian rates at crosswalks compared with traditional overhead beacons
Considerations
  • May need a public-outreach campaign to educate drivers unfamiliar with the concept
Where to Use It
  • Mid-block crosswalks on two-lane or multilane roadways
  • A pedestrian or school crossing
  • Crosswalks not controlled by a yield sign, stop sign, or traffic-control signal on two-lane or multilane roadways
  • A crosswalk at a roundabout
Professional Consensus
  • MUTCD permits and provides guidance on warning beacons
  • FHWA Safety program publishes guidance and reports on RRFB
  • FHWA gave Interim Approval to allow RRFBs as warning beacons to supplement standard pedestrian crossing and school crossing warning signs at crossings across uncontrolled approaches
Examples

This material is the product of a partnership between America Walks and Sam Schwartz Engineering. Visit here for more information on the partnership.