High-Visibility Crosswalks

Crosswalk markings provide guidance for pedestrians crossing roadways by defining the appropriate paths for them. While basic crosswalk markings consist of two transverse lines, an FHWA study found that continental markings were detected at about twice the distance upstream as the transverse markings during daytime conditions. In the study, this increased distance meant that drivers traveling at 30 mph had eight additional seconds of awareness of crossing pedestrians.

  • For continental, or ladder markings, stripe the longitudinal lines within between 12” to 24” in width and separated by gaps of 12” to 60”
  • For bar pair markings, stripe two 8” stripes separated by 8” to form a 24” wide bar pair. Separate pairs by gaps of 24” to 60”
  • Some pedestrians with low vision prefer ladder markings, which help them follow the crosswalk better, particularly where bar pairs are widely separated
  • Place markings to avoid the wheel paths of cars
  • Extend crosswalks to the edges of the roadway or intersecting crosswalk
  • Stripe crosswalks to encompass curb ramps
  • Use inlay tape and thermoplastic tape rather than paint: Inlay tape works for new and resurfaced pavement; thermoplastic works for rougher surfaces
  • Avoid using contrasting materials like brick to create higher visibility. These materials cost much more to maintain, but are not highly visible—particularly at night, in the rain, and over time as they lose contrast with the surrounding street
  • Increases visibility of pedestrian crossing paths
  • Discourages drivers from encroaching into crosswalks
  • Funding for markings
  • Funding for ongoing maintenance
Where to Use It
  • Intersections with conflicts between vehicular and pedestrian movements
  • Areas with lots of foot traffic, such as loading islands, midblock pedestrian islands
  • Commercial business districts
Professional Consensus

An FHWA-sponsored Crosswalk Marking Field Visibility Study recommended including bar pairs in the MUTCD and making bar pairs or continental the default crosswalk markings for all crosswalks across roadways not controlled by signals or stop signs. The MUTCD adopted these recommendations in January 2011


Many cities are expanding the use and variety of high-visibility crosswalk markings, including:

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