Research Papers

Pedestrian safety at at-grade crossings

Version 1
Date added June 28, 2017
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Category 2017 CARSP XXVII Toronto
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 6C
Author/Auteur Alexander Nolet
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only (no paper submitted)



Following the introduction of the Transport Canada Grade Crossings Regulations on November 2014, a large number of road authorities undertook studies to review conformity of their railway crossings with the applicable acts, regulations, standards, and guidelines. Since the Regulations have been in place, we have reviewed more than 125 at-grade crossings for major road authorities in Ontario and Quebec. Through the safety reviews, it was identified that the most common compliance violations were observed at pedestrian and bicycle facilities, which exposed vulnerable road users to undesirable conflicts and risk. The objectives are to describe the various safety deficiencies observed at at-grade railway crossings, and to identify potential remedial measures that will improve mobility as well as the level safety of vulnerable road users at crossings. We compiled all of the safety deficiencies identified at the 100+ crossings reviewed, and ranked the compliance violations based on their frequency. From the ranking, it was identified that the most frequent safety deficiencies across road authorities were related to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructures. A review of available standards, policies and guidelines was conducted to determine how to address the safety deficiencies. We also conducted a literature review to identify treatments that road authorities could consider to increase the level of safety of pedestrians and cyclists at crossings. The most common safety deficiencies at railway crossings related to pedestrian and bicycle infrastructures included discontinuity of sidewalks, excessive slopes of the crossing surface, tripping hazards, lack of guidance leading to pedestrian trespassing, and insufficient crossing surface width. The types of safety deficiencies identified at crossings were observed to be consistent across municipalities. It was also determined that the vast majority of the pedestrians and cyclists hazards at crossings do not require the implementation of complex treatments. Rather, low-cost and straightforward treatments are expected to address most of the safety deficiencies identified at the crossings pedestrian and bicycle facilities. Improving pedestrian safety at at-grade crossings can be achieved through greater collaboration between railway companies and road authorities, and by the implementation of low-costs measures.

Alexander Nolet