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Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) Pilot Project


Pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable road users of transportation systems.
Accommodation of pedestrians at crosswalks in a safe and interactive manner has always been a
great challenge to transportation professionals. In 2012, the City of Calgary decided to pilot
Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) at 8 locations to evaluate motorists’ yielding
behavior to pedestrians. Reliability of the solar powered battery system in winter conditions and
comparison of RRFB installation costs with the special crosswalk were also part of the pilot
project. The results of before-after study were presented to The City of Calgary Council in 2013.
Following the encouraging results, The City of Calgary has decided to expand the RRFB
installation to 25 locations by 2015.
This project aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of RRFB in improving safety of pedestrians at
crosswalks. Before-after studies indicated that the level of motorists’ yield compliance to
pedestrians increased significantly at pedestrian crossings from lower to mid 80% to over 95% in
most cases. With the increase in motorists’ yield compliance, it is expected that the risk of
pedestrian related conflicts and collisions will decrease at these locations. Given the relatively
low installation cost compared to overhead flashers (approximately 1/3rd) and yet very high
yield compliance rate, this device could provide a cost-effective method to improve pedestrian
safety at crosswalks (both intersections and mid-block locations).
The rapid flash pattern of RRFB appears to be very effective in getting driver’s attention thereby
increasing motorists’ yield compliance to pedestrians at crosswalks. Versatile nature of this
device with options to power by solar batteries or by connecting to permanent power grid
provides a perfect opportunity to use this device in various climatic conditions, especially in
Canadian context.
This pilot provided a platform for evaluating its effectiveness in terms of yield compliance and
reliability of solar powered batteries in winter weather conditions. With the recent TAC approval
of RRFB as a traffic control device, RRFBs are expected to be widely used across Canada once
the warrant process has been established.
This submission provides further details of the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons Pilot Project
for the nomination in the Road Safety Engineering Award category.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
2015 Decade of Action Road Safety Awards and the TAC Road Safety Engineering Award
Churchill, T.
Mishra, S.
Road safety