What is a Pedestrian Signal?
A pedestrian signal is an indication that notifies a pedestrian when to cross at a signalized intersection. Indications include a white “WALK” symbol depicting a person walking and an orange steady or flashing “DON’T WALK” symbol that looks like an upraised hand.
Like a traffic signal that goes green, yellow, and then red, pedestrian signals also follow a specific sequence:
- A “WALK” indication provides people with the time to enter the crosswalk from the sidewalk.
- A flashing “DON’T WALK” indication provides people time to finish crossing the intersection. A countdown may also be present to indicate how much time remains to finish crossing.
- A solid “DON’T WALK” indication notifies people to stop and wait.
The “WALK” indication can be requested by pressing the push button provided at each crosswalk.
Bellevue is updating its push buttons to a system that is accessible for all. Accessible pedestrian signals (APS) provide audible messaging and vibrotactile response to pedestrians who are blind or low vision, and may also have hearing loss, so they know when to begin crossing at a signalized intersection.
Pedestrian Signal features
Pedestrian signals can operate in different ways, for instance, how much time is provided to cross the street or the sequencing of traffic lights. Bellevue follows national best practices and standards for traffic signals. However, optional features can be used depending on the location and roadway characteristics (e.g., traffic and pedestrian volumes, number of lanes, speed limit, etc.). See the glossary below to learn more about the different features of pedestrian signals.
Glossary of terms
Leading Pedestrian Interval
Leading pedestrian interval (LPI), also called a Ped Jump, is when people crossing the street are given the “WALK” indication before adjacent drivers are given the green light. The green light is typically delayed five seconds after the “WALK” indication for drivers. This feature helps make pedestrians more visible in the crosswalk for turning vehicles by giving them a head start and increasing the likelihood of drivers yielding to pedestrians. A LPI is one tool the city uses to help improve safety. Learn more by reading the informational flyer.
A pedestrian recall is when the “WALK” indication automatically appears at every cycle, regardless of whether someone activated the pedestrian pushbutton. This can result in a longer cycle length and wait times for all travel modes if no pedestrians need to use that crosswalk. However, a recall can help reduce delay for people walking if they miss pushing the button to cross before the adjacent traffic light turns green.
Pedestrian Scramble (All Way Walk)
A pedestrian scramble is when the “WALK” indication is available for all crossings, and a person may cross in any direction, including diagonally. All other traffic has a red light. The amount of time for the pedestrian signals depends on the size of the intersection. At larger intersections, this could result in a long crossing time and potentially increase wait time for all travel modes. However, it can be beneficial in high pedestrian volume areas and when people must cross multiple crosswalks to reach their destination.
Protected Pedestrian Phasing
Protected pedestrian phasing is when there are no other conflicting movements, including permissive movements. A permissive turn movement is when drivers must yield to conflicting movements and are only allowed to turn or proceed if there is a gap in conflicting pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle movement.
At locations with a flashing yellow arrow, protected pedestrian phasing means the left turn remains red while the pedestrian signal has the “WALK” and flashing “DON’T WALK” indication. Then the flashing yellow arrow is served.
Pedestrian Signal Operations Guidelines update
In September 2022, the city started a project to update its policies and practices related to pedestrian signals operations. This project included a review of national standards, industry best practices and public feedback opportunities, including an online questionnaire and focus group. The outcome of this project is the Pedestrian Signal Operation Guidelines, completed in March 2023. These guidelines will be used to update pedestrian signal timing and operations across Bellevue to improve pedestrian safety and mobility. The updates are anticipated to be completed by March 2024.
- Increase standard “WALK” time
- Add conditions for longer crossing time to accommodate people moving slower or large groups of people
- Add criteria for adding recalls at more locations
- Add new considerations for multiuse trails to prioritize non-motorized traffic
- Expand the use of protected pedestrian phasing with Flashing Yellow Arrows
- Identified future needs and potential new features