In light of recent discussion regarding the effectiveness and suitability of pedestrian guardrail, TMS were recently asked to carry out a Road Safety Audit on the possible removal of guardrail at a staggered Pelican crossing. The crossing is located on a busy road close to several schools with pupils of varying age groups. The removal was part of a larger public realm scheme, which involved the reconstruction of the existing central reservation along the whole of the main road and widening the central island at the Pelican crossing to 3m.
Observations during the site visit suggested that pedestrians were generally crossing uncontrolled with few pedestrians using the signals to stop traffic. Pedestrians generally ignored the Pelican and instead crossed diagonally across the road on the zigzag lines and towards the ends of the central island. As a result, pedestrians would often wait in the carriageway alongside the refuge before crossing the second lane, again uncontrolled. The auditors felt that the haphazard pedestrian crossing movements could lead to collisions, especially as some school children were seen to run or dash across the road
As a result of these observations, TMS auditors felt that removing the guardrail would improve user compliance of the crossing and subsequently improve safety. By removing the physical barrier, pedestrians are more likely to use the refuge when crossing, and in turn, more likely to use the controlled signal facilities to stop traffic. Also, by widening the central refuge, a greater number of pedestrians could be accommodated and vehicle speeds may be reduced by the narrowing of the carriageway.