Pedestrian Crossing Islands

Located on the roadway between opposing lanes of traffic, pedestrian crossing islands separate pedestrians from vehicles at intersections or mid-block locations. They are typically raised medians or islands, though lower-cost versions can be made of pavement markings only. Crossing islands can also be referred to as center islands, refuge islands, or pedestrian islands.

  • Provide pedestrian crossing islands through the crosswalk where medians are present or space exists
  • Build islands at least 4’ in width (preferably 8’) and of adequate length and width for the anticipated number of pedestrians
  • Design islands with level cut-through foot paths for ADA accessibility
  • Provide detectable warnings (truncated domes) at each edge of the island cutthrough area for ADA accessibility
  • Highlight islands with signs, striping, and reflector
  • Reduces pedestrian crashes by up to 46% at marked crosswalks
  • Reduces motor vehicle crashes by up to 39% at unmarked crosswalks
  • Provides pedestrians a safe place to stop midway across the road
  • Increases visibility of pedestrian crossings, particularly at unsignalized crossings
  • Provides a cost-effective option to curb extensions because drainage problems are not as common in the center of the roadway
  • Helps lower vehicle speeds approaching pedestrian crossings
  • Provides space for supplemental signage on multilane roadways
  • Balancing competing needs within a limited roadway width
  • Crossing islands at intersections or near driveways may affect left-turn access
  • Crossing islands may affect operations of wide-load vehicles
Where to Use It
  • Marked and unmarked crosswalks adjacent to transit stops, between pedestrian origins and destinations, and in areas with significant foot traffic
  • Areas with many school children, seniors, or other vulnerable pedestrians
  • Multilane roadways in urban and suburban areas
  • Intersections with significant numbers of pedestrian and vehicles traveling at high speeds
Professional Consensus
  • The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Safety includes medians and pedestrian crossing islands in their list of Proven Safety Countermeasures

The FHWA is promoting wide-spread integration of median and pedestrian crossing islands into state practices. States that have adopted the countermeasure include:

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