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8 - Signals, Beacons, and Signs

Published: January 20, 2023

8.1 Introduction

Traffic signals manage traffic flow by separating and allocating time to specific movements. They can reduce conflicts between motor vehicles, transit vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The decision to install a Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) or a traffic signal involves a holistic evaluation of numerous factors at the study location and requires the use of engineering judgment to apply and evaluate OMUTCD warrant criteria. Additional details on this process are discussed in Section 8.2.

The design guidance in this chapter covers how to design pedestrian hybrid beacons and traffic signals, including traffic signal heads, signal phasing, signal timing, signing, markings, and pedestrian/bicycle detection. It also includes ways to reduce delay and manage or eliminate conflicts between vulnerable users and motor vehicles. The design guidance provided in this chapter also supplements intersection design guidance provided in other chapters. This design guidance should be used in conjunction with the TEM and the OMUTCD.

8.2 Evaluation of a Traffic Control Signal or Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon

Traffic signals may be installed to facilitate roadway crossings by pedestrians and bicyclists. It may be necessary to consider pedestrian signal or pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) installation at crossing locations where one or more of the following conditions occur:

  • Where one or more OMUTCD traffic signal warrants or PHB guidelines are met;
  • Sight distance is restricted, based on prevailing motor vehicle speeds;
  • Motor vehicle approach speeds exceed 30 mph;
  • There are four or more through lanes of major street traffic;
  • There are insufficient crossing opportunities (including crossings of two through lanes) within about a quarter of a mile from the location in question.

Traffic control signal installation should be limited to locations where less restrictive traffic control devices do not provide adequate crossing opportunities for pedestrians and bicyclists. Even at locations where a traffic control signal is warranted, other treatments such as traffic calming, roundabouts, active beacons, or PHBs should be considered before determining a full traffic signal is appropriate. A traffic signal can increase delays, motorized traffic volumes on minor street approaches, and some types of crashes. PHBs intended specifically for bicycle use can also introduce challenges for bicyclists’ timing (see Section 8.6.2).

8.2.1 OMUTCD Traffic Control Signal Warrants

See OMUTCD Chapter 4C and TEM Section 402 for more information and guidance on Traffic Control Signal Studies and warrant requirements. 

8.3 Signal Design Guidance for Pedestrian Facilities

Pedestrian signal heads should be provided at all signalized intersections with sidewalks and curb ramps on the approaches and at all signalized intersections where pedestrian activity may be expected or anticipated based on land uses, transit stops, or other factors likely to generate pedestrian activity, regardless of the presence of sidewalks. See ODOT’s Signal Design Reference Packet (SDRP) for additional details and references related to pedestrian signal design and installation.

8.3.1 Pedestrian Signals

The OMUTCD (Section 4E.03) defines the conditions under which pedestrian signals shall be provided. At all locations where signals are newly installed, replaced, or significantly modified and pedestrian signals are provided for street crossings, countdown pedestrian displays are required. Pedestrian signals with countdown displays show the number of seconds remaining in the clearance interval and their use has been shown to reduce both pedestrian and vehicular crashes at signals1.

Accessible pedestrian signals (APS) are devices that communicate information about pedestrian signal timing in nonvisual formats and are integrated with pedestrian pushbuttons. All intersections where pedestrians are expected, regardless of whether the pedestrian phase is automatic or requires actuation, shall be accessible for people with disabilities. This often means that accessible pushbuttons are installed in locations with automatic pedestrian phases. APS installation is required by PROWAG (R209.1) with any new traffic signal that has pedestrian signals or where there will be significant changes to an existing signal. APS guidelines include the following:

  • APS should be placed in consistent locations;
  • APS should be located as close as practical to the crosswalk line farthest from the center of the intersection and as close as practical to the curb ramp;
  • When installed at signals or PHBs, APS pushbuttons must have both audible and vibrotactile components. Vibrotactile indications integrated into the pushbutton provides information to persons with hearing or visual disabilities;
  • APS pushbuttons shall have a locator tone that operates during the DON’T WALK and the FLASHING DON’T WALK intervals only to assist those with low or no vision to find the correct device for a particular crossing;
  • APS pushbuttons shall have a tactile arrow that indicates the crossing direction activated by the pushbutton;
  • One post and pushbutton assembly should be provided for each crossing. Ideally, pushbuttons on the same corner should be placed a minimum of 10 ft. from each other. This helps clarify which percussive locator tone is applicable to each button for the respective crossing. In constrained areas (e.g., limited building setbacks, unusual geometric conditions), should two APS assemblies be separated by less than 10 ft., an audible walk indication shall include speech pushbutton information and walk messages. These information messages tell pedestrians the name of the street they are crossing. Braille or raised lettering on the pushbutton housing may also provide street name information;
  • If an extended pushbutton press feature provides additional crossing time, then an R10-32P plaque shall be mounted adjacent to or integral with the APS pushbutton. For these locations, APS pushbuttons shall be marked with three braille dots forming an equilateral triangle in the center of the pushbutton;
  • If the pedestrian clearance time is sufficient only to cross from the curb or shoulder to a median to wait for the next cycle, then an additional APS pushbutton shall be provided in the median.

Some pushbutton housings include a map of the intersection in relief on the side of the housing that informs pedestrians about the number of lanes and islands they will have to cross. These should be provided at wide or complex intersections and when a two-stage crossing may be necessary. However, using a two-stage crossing where pedestrians are required to cross to a median and then to the other side of the street on separate signal phases should be discouraged where sufficient physical protection (e.g., concrete curbing, wide medians) is not included. When installed, two-stage pedestrian crossings should consider a “z”-median where pedestrians are required to traverse a short distance (10 ft. min. preferred) in a center island, facing on-coming traffic, prior to activating a second pushbutton. The center median distance may require adjustments to accommodate site specific conditions.

APS audible messages and tone volumes should be adaptive to the surrounding ambient noise. APS units produce a louder signal message when motor vehicle and other noise at a given intersection is higher. Automatic volume adjustment provides flexibility and allows APS units to adjust so they are not disturbing to neighbors at night or times of low traffic volume. This is also helpful to visually impaired pedestrians, as the APS does not drown out essential traffic sounds necessary for crossing. See Section 4E.11 of the OMUTCD for volume setting requirements and guidance.

When APS and countdown pedestrian display improvements are made, all crossing associated with the system must be upgraded (see Section 4.3 for ADA requirements, standards, guidelines). Among the requirements provided in Section 4E.04 of the OMUTCD, pedestrian signals should be placed in a conspicuous location, visible to pedestrians waiting to cross. See Section 8.3.1 for additional information on the placement of pedestrian pushbuttons for accessibility.

8.3.2 Pedestrian Detection


Where pushbuttons are provided for detection, they shall be accessible. Pushbutton placement must be within easy reach of a pedestrian (and bicyclist when applicable) and obvious to which crosswalk they are associated with.

In addition to standards laid out in Chapter 4E.08 of the OMUTCD, Section 404-2 of the TEM, and Section 8.3.1 of this guide, accessible requirements and best practices are as follows:

  • Place pushbuttons so they are adjacent to curb ramp landing or similar surfaces. A level surface with a 1.56 percent cross slope (max.) in each direction shall be provided.
  • Pushbuttons may be placed between 1.5 ft. and 6 ft. behind the face of curb or edge of pavement. In some cases, placement as far as 10 ft. is permissible. A distance of 6 ft. is preferable as it allows bicyclists and pedestrians pushing strollers to stop at the button without the front end of their wheel(s) getting closer than 2 ft. from the face of curb or edge of road and provides greater physical separation from moving traffic.
  • When placing pushbuttons, consider expected users and their needs. Where bicyclists are expected, a slightly taller pole can provide a surface to hold while waiting for the right of way.

Passive Detection

Passive detection devices are less common, but may be used to actuate or extend pedestrian signals in specific applications. Beacons can be outfitted with motion or break-beam sensors, though care is needed to ensure detection is for only those intending to cross. Infrared crosswalk sensors can detect the presence of slow-moving pedestrians in crosswalks and extend the clearance time.

Passive detection may be used in lieu of or in addition to pedestrian pushbuttons, though careful consideration will be necessary in doing so. Passive detection may be helpful in reducing intersection noise, though pedestrians with vision disabilities may not approach the crossing within the detection zone nor wait at the exact crossing area for activation to occur. They may also not know passive detection is present unless they are familiar with the intersection. In addition, passive detection systems need to be carefully calibrated and monitored to avoid or limit detecting something other than pedestrians. Passive detection may be an option where compliant pushbutton placement is not feasible at a given intersection. Such factors may include lack of right-of-way, limited building setbacks, or pushbutton placement that would limit or block pedestrian access.

8.3.3 Signal Timing and Reducing Pedestrian Delay

Frequent crossings that accommodate walking speeds for people of all ages and abilities are key to creating a safe, accessible, and connected pedestrian network. Signals are typically timed to prioritize the “major” street movements which may, under certain conditions, increase delay for pedestrians and bicyclists waiting to cross the major street. In addition, when pedestrians and bicyclists are faced with long delays, they may be more likely to ignore signals entirely and cross the road when they perceive an adequate gap in traffic. When this occurs, pedestrians will sometimes choose to cross away from intersections, potentially increasing crash risks. The following section describes best practices for reducing delay and providing accessible crossings to improve safety for all users.

While there are many factors associated with signal timing as it relates to reducing pedestrian delay, corridor consideration should be a factor. Streets in lower density, suburban settings, often do not have comparable pedestrian volumes relative to more dense, urban networks. However, these corridors may have transit operation, which may make road crossing decisions challenging without appropriate crossing opportunities.

Signal Cycle Length

In some instances, where pedestrians routinely experience long delays at signals, they may elect to cross away from the crosswalk at locations where conflicts are not controlled by a signal. Therefore, strategies to reduce overall cycle length can be particularly important for pedestrian safety. Where pedestrians are expected regularly, cycle lengths greater than 60 to 90 seconds should often be discouraged. In addition to reducing cycle lengths, designers may also consider using half-cycle lengths, particularly during off-peak hours. Adaptive signal control, where employed, should have limited variation in cycle length. Operations for adaptive signal control should be confined to suburban settings and event venues where traffic patterns can be highly variable.

Designers should be aware that shortening signal cycle lengths can impact the amount of WALK time that a pedestrian is provided in the pedestrian signal phase (see “Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing”, discussed later in this section). While long cycle lengths can increase pedestrian non- compliance, at wider intersections shorter cycle lengths may not be possible without implementing two-stage pedestrian crossings which could increase pedestrian delay compared to providing a longer cycle length. Single stage crossings are preferable in most instances (see Chapter 9 for complex locations where two-stage crossings may be appropriate). Designers can also shorten crossing distances using curb extensions (see Chapter 7), eliminating the need for a longer pedestrian cycle length and potentially reducing the current cycle length. If a two-stage crossing is provided, designers shall provide a crossing island (see Section 4.5.3) and provide a pushbutton within the crossing island.

Pedestrian Signal Phase Timing

Pedestrian signals provide a WALK phase (steady white walking man symbol) followed by a FLASHING DON’T WALK clearance phase (flashing orange upraised hand symbol with integrated countdown timer). Details for programming the walk and clearance interval is provided in the OMUTCD (Section 4E.06) and the TEM (Section 404). Pedestrian signal timing shall meet the following requirements:

  • The duration of the WALK indication should allow sufficient time for a pedestrian to react to the signal and enter the crosswalk. The OMUTCD recommends a minimum walk interval of seven seconds, though it allows for a walk interval as low as four seconds in certain situations;
  • A clearance interval based on a maximum walking speed of 3.5 ft. per second from the face of curb or edge of shoulder to the point where they have cleared the farthest lane in the crosswalk;
    • Where a crossing has a higher proportion of slow-moving pedestrians, slower walking speeds of 3.0 ft. per second or lower may be programmed. A longer clearance interval can also be requested by pedestrians using a longer push on the pushbutton.
    • Passive detection may also be considered, provided that the system can sense slower pedestrians and extend the clearance time.
  • The total WALK + FLASHING DON’T WALK phase (walk plus clearance interval) shall be long enough to allow a person with a walk speed of 3.5 ft./sec. to walk from the pushbutton to the point where they have cleared the farthest lane in the crosswalk. When a pushbutton is not present, the crossing distance should be 6 ft. wider than the width of the road;
  • In addition to the recommendations and guidance in the OMUTCD, designers should consider a longer walk interval (e.g., sufficient for a pedestrian to react and walk to the center of the intersection) at locations where there are more than two travel lanes to be crossed or roadway posted speeds are higher than 30 mph.

Signal timing should strive to maximize the WALK + FLASHING DON’T WALK phase such that the total pedestrian time is equal to the total concurrent vehicle green timing (see Figure 8-1). Providing a shorter WALK phase is sometimes proposed to split the green phase between the pedestrian crossing and turning vehicles. This application is discouraged as it is an informal treatment that does not clearly convey the phasing intention; pedestrians may elect to cross anyway after observing that the concurrent through movement is still green. To address conflicts, designers should instead use one or a combination of treatments listed in Section 8.3.4.

Figure 8-1: Maximizing the WALK Interval

Figure 8-1

ODOT’s typical practice is to terminate the FLASHING DON’T WALK phase at the same time as the concurrent vehicular green indication.

Pedestrian Recall and Actuation

Pedestrians should not always be required to push a button to call the pedestrian phase at locations with high pedestrian volumes. This is particularly important in downtown corridors or business districts where there tends to be significant pedestrian volume and relatively short cycle lengths. In such environments, fixed time operation with time-of-day phase plans often functions more efficiently compared to actuated or semi-actuated signal timing. Fixed time operation allows for signal controllers to call pedestrian phases each cycle. In a fixed time grid, pedestrian WALK + FLASHING DON’T WALK intervals are often the maximizing factor for phase length, as the time necessary to accommodate pedestrian movements exceeds the time needed for motor vehicles. Designers should follow the guidance in Figure 8-2 for providing pedestrian recall or actuation2. This could be accomplished based on different signal timing plans at certain times of day or day of the week.

Figure 8-2: Recall versus Actuated Pedestrian Phase for Coordinated-Actuated Arterials

Figure 8-2

Signal timing plans, when updated, shall provide a sufficient walk phase for all crossings. If it is determined that the pedestrian phase should switch from actuated to recall based on the time of day, designers can minimize confusion by ensuring the pushbutton includes a confirmation light. When the signal operations have switched to pedestrian recall, the detection indicator can be programmed to illuminate by default.

8.3.4 Signal Phasing for Managing or Reducing Conflicts

There are a variety of alternative signal phasing options for reducing or eliminating conflicts between motorist and pedestrians. Designers should consider both the operational and safety impacts of signal phasing changes at an intersection. Designers should also be aware that a phasing scenario may necessitate a separate motor vehicle turn lane and an additional signal phase, which may increase delay for some users, including pedestrians. Fully separated crossings may require longer cycle lengths, which may result in reduced user compliance with signal indications and increased potential for conflict. The following sections describe four major phasing scenarios, criteria, and considerations. Often, there may not be one solution, but a combination of treatments for specific periods or scenarios to address pedestrian safety. Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs)

Leading Pedestrian Intervals (LPIs) or Leading Through Intervals (LTIs) may be used to give pedestrians a head start (typically a minimum of three seconds) when crossing the street. LPIs are a proven safety countermeasure to reduce vehicle-pedestrian crashes at intersections. Implementation allows waiting pedestrians to enter the crosswalk where they become more visible to conflicting motorists. Both LPIs and LTIs accomplish the same goal through different strategies:

  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals - With traditional signal phasing, parallel pedestrian WALK and motor-vehicle circular green indications start at the same time, immediately after the conclusion of the red clearance interval. With LPIs, the walk phase begins as usual and parallel motor vehicle circular green indications start after a brief period. Designers should provide APS units where LPI’s are provided; without APS units, pedestrians with low or no vision may not be able to maximize the advantage of LPIs, as they otherwise use the noise of concurrent vehicles to determine when to begin walking.
  • Delayed Turn or Leading Through Intervals -A delayed left (or right) turn or LTI provides a green signal to through movements while delaying permissive left (or right) turns for a specific period. This delay time may vary based on site specific conditions, but (similar to an LPI) is usually between three and six seconds. This option minimizes intersection capacity impacts while providing a partially protected pedestrian phase, allowing those on foot a head start in order to establish themselves in the intersection before turning movements are allowed after the protected left (or right) turn phase.

When curb extensions or a protected intersection is provided, pedestrians can establish themselves in the crossing before vehicles due to the distance between the stop line and the edge of the curb where a pedestrian would wait.

Table 8-1 provides the equation for calculating the LPI interval (rounded to the nearest second) found in ODOT’s Signal Design Reference Packet (SDRP).

Table 8-1: Formula for Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI)

Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) Formula

LPI (sec.) = (W1 + W2)


LPI = Leading pedestrian interval (sec.)

W1 = Width of first lane of moving vehicles (ft.)

W2 = Width of shoulder, bike lane, and/or parking lane (ft.)

Sw = Walking speed (typically 3.5 ft./sec.)

An approach meeting any one of the following criteria may be a good candidate for the installation of an LPI:

  • Reported crash history finds one or more crashes per year have occurred over the last three years between vehicles turning on green and pedestrians crossing the street on the associated crosswalk with the pedestrian WALK signal;
  • A visibility issue exists between the driver’s view of pedestrians on the crosswalk due to obstructions or poor sight distance at an intersection approach that can be improved through an LPI. LPIs by themselves don’t resolve sight distance limitations, as they don’t protect pedestrians who arrive at the end of the WALK phase. Physical measures to remove corner sight obstructions should be given primary consideration;
  • Intersection observations reveal conflicts between crossing pedestrians and turning vehicles in which there is a risk of collision should their movements and speeds remain unchanged;
  • One of the two movement volumes (turning vehicle volume (A), or pedestrian volume (B), identified below) meet at least one of the thresholds identified in Table 8-2 for a given warrant.

When a protected left turn phase is provided, it should occur as a lag to prevent left turning vehicles from continuing to cross during the LPI. Designers must avoid the “yellow trap” (see TEM Section 403-9) when providing a lagging turn phase.

Table 8-2: LPI Volume Warrant Thresholds


Turning Vehicles Volume (A)

Pedestrian Volume (B)

Vehicle Peak Hour

≥130 per hour

≥25 per hour

Pedestrian Peak Hour

≥100 per hour

≥50 per hour

4-Hour Vehicular and Ped Volume

≥105 per hour

≥30 per hour

8-Hour Vehicular and Ped Volume

≥100 per hour

≥25 per hour

School Crossing

≥50 per hour Protected Pedestrian Phase and Turn Restrictions

Protected pedestrian phases or protected-only signal phasing for turn movements can significantly reduce conflicts between pedestrians and motorists. This process involves eliminating specific motor vehicle phases (e.g., left turns) that cross concurrent pedestrian phases. For example, if the permissive left turns (either green ball or flashing yellow arrow) that cross pedestrian WALK/ FLASHING DON’T WALK phases is eliminated, there is no longer a turning conflict for the crossing during that phase. In these cases, pedestrian phases may occur before (lead) or after (lag) conflicting vehicular movements.

Turn restrictions or protected pedestrian phases may be considered when one or more of the following criteria are met:

  • There are high conflicting turning vehicles volumes. High turning volumes are defined as equal to or exceeding:
    • 200 total right and left turning vehicles per hour;
    • 50 left turning vehicles per hour when crossing one lane of through traffic; or
    • 100 right turning vehicles per hour.
  • There is a high volume of total approaching traffic (greater than 2000 vehicles per hour for all approaches);
  • There are high pedestrian volumes (pedestrians are 30 percent of vehicle volumes or 300 pedestrians per hour);
  • Crash patterns at the study location or nearby locations with similar geometry support the use of separating motor vehicle and pedestrian phasing. Typically, this encompasses three or more left- turn or right-turn collisions where pedestrians had the right of way over a three-year period;
  • The available sight distance is less than the minimum stopping sight distance criteria listed in the L&D Manual Volume 1;
  • The intersection geometry is unusual (streets intersect at acute/obtuse angles or streets have significant curvature approaching the intersection), which may result in unexpected conflicts and/or visibility issues;
  • An intersection in close proximity to senior housing, elementary schools, recreational areas, playgrounds, and/or health facilities.

Protected pedestrian phases or protected-only turn phases may be implemented on a permanent basis, during specific hours, or “on-demand” when a pedestrian is present and activates the pushbutton. If only one movement or street meets the criteria above, consider a treatment to address those specific issues before implementing an intersection-wide approach (i.e., provide protected-only turns for the major roadway and allow for permissive turns on the minor roadway, if turning volumes are low on the minor roadway).

Turn Restrictions

Permissive left turns may be prohibited on demand through programming a signal controller to display a red left arrow when a conflicting pedestrian movement is called. Such programming may require staff time on the part of the jurisdiction where the signal is located in order to maintain signal flexibility and coordination.

A NO TURN ON RED (R10-11) sign may be used to prohibit right turn movements at all times, or a dynamic NO TURN ON RED sign may be installed to limit turns at specific times or conditions. Motorists turning right on red tend to focus on finding a gap in cross traffic. Driver attention in these situations tends to be on conflicting traffic approaching from their left, and not necessarily a pedestrian beginning to cross from the driver’s right. Drivers may also encroach into the crosswalk while waiting for a gap in traffic, effectively blocking the crosswalk. Right turn on red restrictions may be used to reduce these conflicts, though such signs may not be effective if sight distance is not limited by geometry or other roadway features (landscaping, business signs, etc.) without significant enforcement efforts. Where left turns on red are legal on one-way streets, such restrictions may be appropriate for similar reasons.

Right turn on red restrictions increase the number of turns on green, which tend to be higher speed maneuvers, particularly at intersections with larger curb radii. Consequently, such restrictions may not always improve pedestrian safety and shouldn’t be used as a default treatment without an engineering study. Concurrent Pedestrian Phase with Permissive Vehicle Turns

At most signals, the WALK indication for pedestrians is displayed concurrent with the green indication for parallel through vehicular movements. Concurrent timing often allows vehicles to turn left or right across the crosswalk during the WALK and FLASHING DON’T WALK phases with change interval countdown indication (pedestrian clearance interval), provided the motorists yield to pedestrians. To mitigate conflicts and improve motorist yielding, designers may consider the following treatments:

  • Regulatory signs, such as the R10-15a series “TURNING VEHICLES YIELD TO [PEDESTRIANS]” (see Section 8.8.1);
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows (see below);
  • Geometric treatments to reduce vehicle speeds and increase sight distances such as raised pedestrian crossings and curb extensions (see Chapters 3, 4, and 7).

Flashing Yellow Arrows

Flashing yellow arrows (FYAs) may be used for left or right turning motor vehicles to emphasis that drivers may proceed after yielding to oncoming traffic and/or pedestrians in a crosswalk. FYAs allow flexibility in providing permissive turns while warning drivers of potential conflicts. For all ODOT roadways, designers shall follow standards in both the TEM, Section 403-7and OMUTCD, Section 4D.18. Exclusive Pedestrian Phases

An Exclusive Pedestrian Phase (EPP), sometimes referred to as a “Barnes Dance”, stops vehicular traffic in all directions, allowing pedestrians to cross the intersection in all directions, including diagonally. This treatment can produce a safer operation over conventional phasing but delay for both pedestrians and motorists can be higher than conventional signal timing.3 Most often, a protected pedestrian phase, specific turn restrictions with appropriate signage, or LPIs are more appropriate solutions. An EPP may be preferred over a protected pedestrian crossing for the following scenarios:

  • A combination of the criteria listed in Section is met and 15 percent of pedestrians desire to cross diagonally;
  • During special events that occupy a substantial portion of the public right-of-way (e.g., street fairs, parades);
  • The start and end of school days for major school crossings;
  • Intersections where certain motor vehicle turning movements are either not permitted or not in conflict with designated pedestrian crossings.

Signs may be attached to signal poles or pedestrian pushbuttons to inform people that the intersection has an EPP and they may cross diagonally; to inform where an EPP must be actuated by a person waiting to cross; or to deter crossing against the pedestrian signal concurrently with vehicle traffic. Signals that include EPP should time pedestrian phases to accommodate the longest possible crossing.

If a diagonal crossing is employed, designers may need to consider how a person with a visual disability would know that they could cross diagonally. Such determinations need to be carefully considered along with pushbutton placement and pedestrian ramp design for accessibility.

Pavement markings should be designed in accordance with the OMUTCD (Figure 3B-20).

8.4 Signal Design Guidance for Bicycle Facilities

This section’s design guidance covers traffic signal head options for controlling bicycles, signal phasing, signal timing, and detection. The decision to install a traffic signal or pedestrian hybrid beacon (PHB) involves a holistic evaluation of numerous factors at the study location and requires an evaluation of OMUTCD warrant criteria in addition to the use of engineering judgment. Additional details on this process can be found in Section 8.2. The design guidance provided in this chapter supplements intersection design guidance provided in other chapters.

8.4.1 Indication Options

A vehicular signal head controls a bicyclist traveling in a shared lane or adjacent bicycle lane. Where it is necessary or desirable to control a bicycle separately from a motor vehicle, a bicycle may be controlled by a traffic signal designated for bicycle use only, or by a pedestrian signal head. Traffic signal indications for a bicyclist along a corridor should be as uniform as possible.

Standard Traffic Signal Face for Motor Vehicles and Bicycles

Standard signal control is appropriate to control both motor vehicles and bicyclists riding for both shared lanes and adjacent bicycle lanes. Supplemental signage may be appropriate to instruct bicyclists to follow motor vehicle signal control in cases where applicability is ambiguous.

Pedestrian Signal Heads

Using pedestrian signals to control bicyclist movements is generally discouraged except on shared use paths, but may also be appropriate for:

  • separated bikeways traveling in the same direction as the closest motor vehicle travel lane and the pedestrian signal is well oriented for bicyclists to see,
  • locations where an LPI is provided and allowing bicyclists to follow the pedestrian signal means they are provided a protected time to cross without turning vehicles, and
  • projects with insufficient funding to provide separate bicycle signals, such a quick-build (rapid implementation) projects or those implemented as part of a resurfacing project where signal work is not part of the project scope.

Where a bicycle is required to follow the pedestrian signal, a “[BICYCLE] USE PED SIGNAL” (R9-5) sign shall be posted and the pedestrian signal must be readily visible and discernable to bicyclists.

Where bicyclists are required to follow a pedestrian signal, they are only legally allowed to enter the crosswalk during the WALK phase. Research has found low bicyclist compliance rates at locations where bicyclists are directed to follow pedestrian signals.4 Most bicyclists continue to enter crosswalks on the FLASHING DON’T WALK phase, as it is timed for a pedestrian who moves much more slowly than a bicyclist. Additionally, at locations where the WALK indication is only four to seven seconds, bicyclists who comply with the signal are likely to experience more delay than bicyclists who enter during the FLASHING DON’T WALK phase. Caution should be exercised when requiring bicyclist to use pedestrian signals, particularly at locations with long crossings or unique signal timing.

Standard Traffic Signals Designated for Bicycle Use Only

A separate standard traffic signal may provide a separate signal exclusively for bicyclist use. When used, a “[BICYCLE] SIGNAL” (R10-10b) sign shall be installed immediately adjacent to the signal. A bicycle signal is typically used in the following situations:

  • Where the bikeway is a one-way or two-way separated bike lane;
  • Where bicyclists’ position in the bikeway does not allow them to see motor vehicle or pedestrian signals that may otherwise be able to control their movement, and;
  • Where intersection complexity is such that signals may be helpful, as determined by engineering judgment.

Bicycle Signal Faces without Concurrent Vehicle Turns (Interim Approval)

Bicycle signals may use a [BICYCLE] symbol face when used in compliance with FHWA’s Interim Approval (IA)-16. Ohio has statewide interim approval for the use of bicycle signal faces. This is an optional treatment that may be used by any jurisdiction within Ohio provided that each abide by the specific conditions for use as contained in the FHWA Interim Approval document and provide ODOT with a list of locations where the treatment has been installed. There are many benefits to using bicycle signal faces and research indicates that bicycle signals increase compliance with the traffic control and reduce bicycle crashes.

Under IA-16, [BICYCLE] faces may only be used where “bicycles moving on a green or yellow signal indication in a bicycle [symbol] signal face are not in conflict with any simultaneous motor vehicle movement at the signalized location, including right (or left) turns on red.” The Interim Approval also prohibits the use of bicycle signal faces at pedestrian hybrid beacons. Situations where bicyclists follow pedestrian signals or where a standard traffic signal head is designated for bicycle use are not restricted by the provisions of the Interim Approval for bicycle signal faces.

8.4.2 Bicyclist Detection

At locations with active warning devices, pedestrian hybrid beacons, or traffic signals, there are various techniques that can be used to actively or passively detect bicyclists. Semi- or fully-actuated signals should passively detect bicycles for phases with “no recall” (i.e., to call the signal and extend the side street green) or “min recall” (i.e., to extend the green on the main street). If a signalized intersection approach cannot accommodate passive detection, a curb-side pushbutton for active detection should be provided. The designer should also reference TEM, Section 402-5.1 for detection technology considerations, design, and placement.

Detection Technology

Passive detection equipment does not always reliably detect bicyclists. Bicycle detector installations should be tested under a variety of lighting and weather scenarios to confirm effectiveness. Below is a list of detectors commonly used to detect bicyclists at traffic signals as well as considerations for each type:

  • Radar Detection System – It is ODOT’s preference that radar detection be used at state-owned and maintained intersections, see TEM, Section 420.5. Some radar detection can distinguish between user types. Detection systems that are not able to do so should be either replaced or supplemented if signal operations require a distinction between bicyclists and motor vehicles.
  • Inductive Loop Detection - Quadrupole inductive loops, Type Q and Type D, are two options for loop detector configurations for bicycles. Powerhead loops provide better bicycle detection at stop lines while quadrupole loops are typically used for dilemma zones to extend green phases. They can be used to detect bicycles on shared use paths and bike lanes, as well as in travel lanes on roadways.
    • Type Q loops can best detect bicyclists when they are above the loop wire.
    • Type D loops have a magnetic field everywhere within the loop and thus are better for detecting bicycles within the entire loop area. Type D is also particularly effective at rejecting vehicles in the adjacent travel lane, allowing the use of a higher sensitivity setting on the detector amplifier.
  • Video Detection System - Video detectors may have challenges detecting vehicles, including bicycles, due to poor streetlighting. Video detection can also be problematic when the sun is low in the sky, which can cause glare and potentially skip phases. This may also be the case during inclement weather (e.g., heavy rain, fog, or snow), though it can be somewhat mitigated by ensuring detection zones are appropriately illuminated.
  • Infrared Detection – Bicyclists can be detected through fog, snow, and other environmental constraints that impair video detection.

Bicycle pushbuttons may be used to supplement passive detection. Pushbuttons may also be used where it is desirable for a bicyclist to be detected, but not a motorist (e.g., a bicycle boulevard crossing an arterial with a pedestrian hybrid beacon or a Toucan crossing). Where used, pushbuttons should be reachable by bicyclists and be accompanied by explanatory signage.


Passive bicycle detection should:

  • be located in the expected path of bicyclists;
  • extend across most of the bicycle lane or shared roadway lane width;
  • be adjacent to a curb or other type of footrest, when present.

Detection should also be included in bicycle boxes and two-stage turn queue boxes. In bicycle boxes, detection should be provided both in front of general purpose lanes and bicycle lanes. In two-stage turn queue boxes, the detection zone should include the full area of the marked queue box. Both bicycle boxes and two-stage turn queue boxes have Interim Approval from FHWA (see Section 6.5.1).

When used, bicycle pushbuttons should be placed within a reasonable reach from a bike lane or shared use path. They should allow bicyclists to actuate them without dismounting while satisfying lateral offset requirements from the AASHTO Roadside Design Guide. This can be accomplished by placing bicycle pushbuttons a maximum of 18” from the face of curb, which is an exception to the bikeway shy distance recommendations provided in Section 3.6.2. If there are concerns about a motor vehicle striking the pushbutton pole, bollards may be installed to protect the equipment with the understanding that this could be a hazard to turning motor vehicles. Alternatively, bike ramps should be provided so that a bicyclist can access a sidewalk or separated bike lane to actuate a pushbutton.

Pushbuttons intended both for pedestrians and bicyclists should be located and operated in accordance with accessibility guidelines. Section 8.3.2 provides guidance on the location of pushbuttons when they are on a sidewalk or shared use path. Where bicycle pushbuttons are installed, they do not have to meet accessibility guidelines or OMUTCD requirements for placement. In locations where pedestrians and bicyclists have parallel crossings and pushbuttons are used to activate a warning device or other active traffic control device, pushbuttons for pedestrians and bicyclists may be placed on the same pole or separate poles. While there is a recommended minimum spacing of 10 ft. between two pedestrian pushbuttons on the same intersection corner, separate pushbuttons for bicyclists and pedestrians do not have a minimum separation recommendation. Pushbutton placement 6 ft. behind the curb is preferable to allow bicyclists and pedestrians pushing strollers to stop at the pushbutton without the front end of their wheel(s) getting closer than 2 ft. from the face of curb or edge of road.

Signs and Markings

When installed, a bicycle detection marking should indicate to bicyclists where they should position themselves to be detected. OMUTCD Section 9C.05 includes bicycle detector pavement markings that can be used. The pavement marking can also be supplemented with a BICYCLE SIGNAL actuation sign (R10-22). This marking and sign can be used with any type of bicycle detection.

8.4.3 Signal Design Considerations

The OMUTCD establishes requirements for the size, arrangement, number, visibility, and positioning of vehicle traffic signals at an intersection. Bicycle signal locations are guided by similar principles and IA-16. The following guidance is intended to supplement the OMUTCD. In general, designers should minimize the number of mast arms and/or pedestal poles by combining equipment where possible. This minimizes the number of fixed objects that can be damaged or cause injury and reduces clutter.

Size and Layout of Displays

All signal indications in a bicycle signal face shall be the same size, including those that display arrows and those that display bicycle symbols. The primary bicycle signal head for the bicycle movement shall use an 8 inch or 12 inch diameter lenses. When the primary bicycle signal face is located on the far-side, a 12 inch diameter bicycle signal shall be used if it is located more than 120 ft. from the stop line.

Bicycle signal faces with 4 inch diameter lenses may only be used as a supplemental, near-side signal. Near-side bicycle signal faces may alternatively be 8 inches in diameter. The smaller size allows it to be mounted at a lower height, improving visibility to approaching bicyclists.

Number of Displays

The OMUTCD and SDRP prescribe the use of two signal faces for a primary motor vehicle movement. As bicycles are rarely the primary movement, the use of one bicycle signal face is generally sufficient. A supplemental near-side signal should be considered in the following situations:

  • Locations with protected bicycle phases, as bicycle crash risk is increased if the bicycle signal fails;
  • Per IA-16, if the signal head is located more than 80 ft. beyond the bicycle stop line (a supplemental near-side signal head shall be provided when the signal head is more than 120 ft. from the bicycle stop line);
  • Intersections that require diagonal or unusual bicycle movement through the intersection.

An additional benefit of a second bicycle signal display is that it provides an added safety feature in case one of the displays malfunctions.


At least one signal face should be visible a minimum of 120 ft. before the stop line based on stopping sight distance for a bicycle traveling 15 mph on a flat grade. This distance should be increased where higher bicycle speeds are expected, such as on downhill grades (see Section 3.2.1). Where bicyclists do not have a continuous view of the signal for the minimum sight distance, a W3-3 sign “SIGNAL AHEAD” should be installed.

Bicycle signals should be installed such that visibility is maximized for bicyclists and minimized for adjacent, conflicting motor vehicle movements. Visibility-limiting lenses may be appropriate so long as bicyclists can still see the indication, though such equipment may not effectively shield adjacent travel lanes. As such, other methods to distinguish bicycle signals may be necessary. These may include lower or pole mounted placement, use of smaller signal heads than those controlling motor vehicle traffic (e.g., 8 inch vs. 12 inch).

Where existing vehicle traffic signal heads are anticipated to be the sole source of guidance for bicyclists, designers shall check that they are located within the cone of vision measured from the bicycle stop line, as described in the OMUTCD. If bicyclists are required to follow optically programmed or shielded vehicle signals, the signals shall be visible to approaching bicyclists. If the vehicle signal faces fall outside the cone of vision, supplementary vehicular or bicycle signals should be provided.


The primary bicycle signal head should be mounted in a lateral position that reduces the potential for pedestrians, landscaping, or other signal equipment to block the view of the signal for approaching bicyclists. The recommended distance from the edge of the bikeway is 5 ft. or less. If possible, mounting bicycle signal heads overhead is preferred. If bicycle heads are side-mounted, they should be installed on the same side (i.e., left or right) of the bikeway along an entire corridor.

The spacing between bicycle signal heads and motor vehicle signal heads should be maximized. Bicycle signal heads should not be placed between two motor vehicle signal heads with the same signal face as another motor vehicle signal head. Bicycle signal heads should have a minimum separation of 3 ft., either vertically or horizontally, from other signal heads to reduce the potential for confusion. However, bicycle signal head placement on existing traffic poles may make it difficult to meet the OMUTCD lateral signal separation requirement. Where bike signals and traffic signals are located in close proximity, it may be desirable to consider one or more of the following strategies to reduce potential for confusion:

  • Provide optical programming or shielding on both signal faces;
  • Mount the bike signal face at a lower height then the vehicular traffic signal faces;
  • Use 8 inch signal heads for far-side signals. 8 inch signal heads should only be considered if other signal heads are 12 inches in diameter for the same direction of travel.

A BICYCLE SIGNAL sign (R10-10b) shall be placed adjacent to all bicycle signal faces.

Mounting height

When newly erecting a pole for adding a bicycle signal or adding a bicycle signal to an existing pole, the following applies:

  • If a bicycle signal head is mounted on a mast arm, the bottom of the housing shall be between 15 and 25.6 ft. above the pavement;
  • The bottom of the signal housing of an 8 inch or 12 inch bicycle signal face that is not located over a roadway shall be a minimum of 10 ft. and maximum of 19 ft. above the sidewalk or ground. Where supplemental signing is installed below the bicycle signal face, the minimum mounting height to the bottom of the supplemental sign should be 10 ft.;
  • If a 4 inch bicycle signal face is used as a near-side supplemental signal, the bottom of the signal housing should be between 4 and 8 ft. above the ground.

When feasible, mounting bicycle signal heads at a different height than adjacent vehicle signal heads can reduce confusion.

Considerations for placement with pedestrian signal equipment

Designers must determine if a pedestrian crossing of the separated bike lane should be controlled or uncontrolled at intersections with a separated bike lane and a street buffer that is 6 ft. or wider. For all ODOT projects, controlled crossings are preferred. When floating transit stops are present along a separated bike lane at a signalized intersection, the platform will serve as a pedestrian crossing island; as such, a second pushbutton must be placed in the buffer (see Chapter 10 for floating bus stops). The following discusses uncontrolled and controlled crossing considerations:

  • Controlled crossings – Can be used where it is desirable to ensure bicyclists are stopped prior to the pedestrian crossing (see Option 2 and 3 in Figure 8-3). In these cases, the separated bike lane movement across the pedestrian crossing is signal controlled. The pedestrian clearance interval should be based on a crossing distance beginning/ending at the sidewalk, which will increase the signal cycle length and delay for all users. Additionally, the benefits of the forward queuing area to reduce bicyclist conflicts with turning traffic are diminished. If the street buffer is greater than 6 ft., an additional pushbutton may need to be placed in the median to meet pedestrian accessibility guidelines, such as where a floating transit stop is present (see Option 2 in Figure 8-3).

Figure 8-3: Accessible Pedestrian Pushbutton Locations with Separated Bike Lane

Figure 8-3

  • Uncontrolled crossings – Can be used where it is desirable to prioritize a shorter pedestrian crossing distance and maintain the ability to allow bicyclist to wait in the forward queueing area of a protected intersection (see Option 1 in Figure 8-3). In this option, the separated bike lane movement across the pedestrian crossing is uncontrolled and the pedestrian clearance interval is based on a crossing distance beginning/ending at the median (i.e., street buffer).

When the buffer is less than 6 ft. wide at an intersection with a separated bike lane, the pedestrian pushbutton should not be placed in the buffer area. In these cases, pushbutton placement should follow the layout shown for Option 3. In all scenarios, designers should ensure all proposed pedestrian ramps, pushbuttons, and signals meet current accessibility guidance, see OMUTCD Section 4E and Section 8.3.2 of this guide for additional details.

8.4.4 Signal Timing and Reducing Bicycle Delay

Existing signals are usually timed for prevailing motor vehicle speeds. Designers should evaluate minimum clearance intervals based on bicyclists’ operating characteristics and make adjustments that provide the safest design for all users. Signal cycle length and signal coordination can also impact bicyclist delay, which may lead to traffic control device non-compliance. Designers should balance traffic operations and consider delay and safety impacts to all users.

A bicyclist design speed of 8 mph and acceleration of 2.5 ft./s2, which is a typical speed and acceleration profile of a slow-moving adult bicyclist, is recommended for minimum green signal timing. A bicyclist design speed of 15 mph is recommended for red clearance interval signal timing. The designer should adjust the design speed and acceleration values as appropriate at locations where the typical bicyclist may be slower or faster moving, such as on downhill or uphill grades.

Signal Cycle Length

Signal cycle length can have a significant impact on pedestrian and bicyclist travel. Signal cycle lengths of 60 to 90 seconds are common in urban areas, as they allow frequent street crossings and can encourage more efficient street network use. In suburban areas where vehicle traffic is often consolidated on a relatively small number of arterial and collector streets, signal cycle lengths are typically longer compared to denser, urban corridors that may have a number of one-way facilities. Cycle lengths are generally between 90 and 150 seconds, though some intersections run longer cycle lengths during peak travel periods. At intersections with a longer signal cycle length, users approaching from a minor street can experience significant delays. This can result in reduced signal compliance for bicyclists where gaps are present, when bicyclists are unaware that they have been detected, or if they have not been detected at the intersection. Consideration should be given to providing shorter signal cycle lengths when feasible, or operating in “free” or fully actuated mode during off-peak periods so that the signal switches to the side street phase more quickly to minimize delays to side street users including bicyclists. However, signal cycle length reductions must not come at the cost of adequate pedestrian crossing intervals (see Section 8.3.3).

In some cases, the signal cycle length at an intersection is determined based on adjacent intersections that are part of a coordinated system described later in this section.

Bicycle Minimum Green

When an approach receives a green indication, a bicyclist waiting at the stop line needs enough time to perceive, react, accelerate, and establish themselves in the intersection before the beginning of the yellow signal indication. The recommended minimum green time for a bicyclist is long enough for a bicyclist to travel at least halfway across the intersection so that a bicyclist is visible to conflicting traffic and has established themselves in the intersection before the signal turns yellow.

Where bicyclists and motorists follow the same signal, the minimum green at an intersection should be based on the bicycle minimum green. Different minimum green time for bicyclists and motor vehicles may be established under the following scenarios:

  1. The traffic controller has the capability to set bicycle minimum green parameter;
  2. Separate detection or detection that can differentiate bicycles from motor vehicles is implemented.

When bicycle signals (either a standard traffic signal face designated for bicycle use or a bicycle signal face) are used for exclusive bicycle phases, the bicycle minimum green should be used.

Table 8-3 defines the bicycle minimum green time based on the distance from the stop line. At a minimum it is recommended “d” be defined as the distance from the stop line to the middle of the intersection. However, designers may choose a higher value of “d” up to the full width of the intersection. A larger “d” will enable a bicyclist to get farther through the intersection before the green indication ends, potentially improving bicyclist comfort when crossing the intersection.

A minimum green time based on a bicyclist traveling halfway across the intersection will typically result in a phase length long enough for a bicyclist to fully clear the intersection before the conflicting approach receives the green indication. However, at some wider crossings, the total phase time may not be sufficient. Designers should also verify that the total phase time is greater than the total time for a bicyclist starting from a stop to cross the intersection (see Table 8-4). Designers should increase the minimum green time until the total phase time is greater than or equal to the total time for a bicyclist to cross the intersection.

Note that the assumed bicycle travel speed for both minimum green time and total phase length is 8 mph. However, a higher speed may be considered for the red clearance interval, since slow moving bicyclists are not likely to enter the intersection at the end of the yellow change interval. See the discussion of “Red Clearance Interval” below.

Table 8-3: Bicycle Minimum Green Time Equation

Bicycle Minimum Green Time Equation

Gmin = t +  1.47v +  d+L 
                      2a       1.47v


Gmin =

bicycle minimum green time (s)

v =

attained bicycle crossing speed (assumed 8 mph)

t =

perception reaction time (generally 1.5 s)

a =

bicycle acceleration (assumed 2.5 ft/s2)

d =

distance from stop bar to middle of the intersection (ft)

L =

typical length of a bicycle (6 ft)

Table 8-4: Total Phase Length, Minimum Green

Total Phase Length and Minimum Green

Gmin + Y + Rclear ≥ t + 1.47v + W+L
                                         2a      1.47


Gmin =

time required to attain crossing speed (s)

Y =

yellow change interval (s)

Rclear =

all-red (s)

w =

intersection width (ft)

L =

bicycle length (assumed 6 ft)

v =

bicycle travel speed (assumed 8 mph)

a =

bicycle acceleration (2.5 ft/s2)

t =

perception reaction time (assumed 1.5 s)

Yellow Change Interval

The OMUTCD, Section 4D.26 states that a vehicle yellow change interval should be a minimum of three seconds, which provides sufficient reaction time for a bicyclist traveling at up to 15 mph to stop before entering the intersection. When a bicycle signal (either standard traffic signal face designated for bicycle use or a bicycle signal face) are used exclusively for bicycle phases, the minimum yellow change interval of three seconds should be used.

When bicyclists and motor vehicles follow the same signal, the yellow change interval for a motor vehicle should be used, as motor vehicles will likely be traveling at higher speeds and need additional time to react, See TEM Section 403-2.

Red Clearance Interval

The red clearance interval allows for a roadway user that legally entered the intersection before the end of the yellow change interval additional time to complete their movement prior to crossing movements receiving a green indication. Designers should determine where a bicyclist would be positioned if they entered the intersection at the end of the yellow interval. For shorter red clearance intervals, the bicyclist may not be visible to motorist stopped on the conflicting approach waiting for a green indication. In these instances, designers should lengthen the red clearance interval so that a bicyclist will have established themselves in the intersection or traveled beyond the conflict point with a conflicting approach (see Figure 8-4).

As previously mentioned in the “Bicycle Minimum Green” section, a higher design speed may be considered for the red clearance interval when taking bicycles into account. If a bicyclist determines not to stop during the yellow change interval, they are likely accelerating to clear the intersection. In this case, a higher design speed of 15 mph may be considered for the red clearance interval. Such a calculation is not likely to significantly change the overall interval if rounded to the nearest second.

When bicyclists on the major street intend to use a two-stage bicycle turn box place in line with the lanes of the minor street approach, the designer should consider extending the red clearance interval because the bicyclist must slow to access the bicycle turn box. If the subsequent phase includes side street through traffic, a longer red clearance may be necessary to accommodate bicycle traffic entering the box. However, if the subsequent phase does not include side street through traffic (e.g., lagging left turn on the major approach), a longer red clearance would not be necessary.

Bicycle Green Extension

In locations where bicycle volumes are heavy during a particular time of day, additional green time may be needed. In these cases, the approach may include a detector at the stop line or in advance of the stop line to extend the green interval in order to allow bicycle traffic to move through the intersection. The length of the extension should be determined by the speed of bicyclists, the detector distance from the stop line, and the amount of extension time that can be provided. Once the phase has begun, each bicyclist will extend the green time for each bicycle detected up to the maximum green.

Figure 8-4: Bicycle Position During Red Clearance

Figure 8-4

Signal Coordination Considerations

Corridors with coordinated signals are often timed to progress motor vehicles at speeds which are significantly faster than typical bicycle travel. Consequently, in these cases, most bicyclists will not gain progression benefits.

Cycle length is usually selected based on the needs of the largest or most congested intersection. These signal cycle lengths are sometimes longer than optimal for smaller or less busy intersections and can result in higher delays for users on side streets. These side streets are often more comfortable for bicyclists, assuming they provide reasonable network connectivity and comfort for bicycles. Significant intersection delays degrade the value of these corridors and can result in reduced signal compliance when traffic gaps are available. This can be a significant barrier at bicycle boulevard crossings or shared use paths where there may be an expectation of a higher level of service for bicycle travel (See Chapters 5 and 6).

To offset these challenges, on streets that are designed to accommodate bicyclists, designers should consider the following:

  • Half signal cycle lengths or a shorter corridor-wide signal cycle length during lower volume and off-peak periods. On coordinated corridors with semi-actuated signalized intersections (i.e., detection on the side street), signals could operate in “free,” or uncoordinated mode, to reduce delays on the side streets. Designers should consider signal spacing, traffic volumes, and delay for all users when evaluating whether to run a signal in “free” or uncoordinated operation. In signal networks with fixed time operation and lower cycle lengths (90 seconds or less), it may be preferred to maintain coordination.
  • Progression speeds closer to bicycle operating speeds to support and encourage bicycle traffic on the coordinated corridor. These are referred to as “Green Wave” progressions for bicycles. They allow bicyclists to operate at a consistent speed, reduce stopping, and improve compliance. Common green wave progression speeds are between 12 and 15 mph. This speed can vary depending on corridor geometry and geography (e.g., grade, sight distance). A “Green Wave” encourages slower travel speeds for motor vehicles, which improves safety for all roadway users. Where a “Green Wave” is provided, SIGNALS SET FOR XX MPH (I1-1) signs may be posted to advise road users of the recommended speed.

“Green Wave” progression would be most appropriate on bikeway corridors (e.g., bicycle boulevards) with reasonable volumes of bicycle activity. Lowering progression speeds could needlessly increase delay for motor vehicles and transit passengers, so the installation of “green wave” progression should consider the effects on all travel modes.

In some instances, bicycles may be traveling in the opposite direction of signal progression. For example, there may be counterflow movement of a two-way separated bike lane or side path. There may also be a designated bike lane traveling the opposite direction of motor vehicle traffic on a one- way street. These scenarios should be designed with signal progression similar to a conventional two-way street.

8.4.5 Signal Phasing for Managing or Reducing Conflicts

Traffic signal phasing is an essential tool for managing and reducing conflicts at intersections. Signal phasing should be considered in conjunction with intersection design treatments described in Chapters 3 through 9, as appropriate.

Although eliminating conflicts between bicyclists and motorists provides the greatest safety benefit, signal phasing should balance delay to all users, signal cycle length, and the risk of conflicts. Designers should assess the number of right and left-turning motorists across bikeways during the peak hour to identify when a protected or partially protected bicycle phase may be considered. Table 8-5 identifies thresholds for when a protected phase or leading bicycle interval for a separated bike lane or side path may be appropriate to improve safety at an intersection. It may also be appropriate to reduce the threshold volumes on higher speed roads.

Table 8-5: Hourly Turning Traffic Thresholds for Time-Separated Bicycle Movements

Hourly Volume Thresholds for Separate Turn Phases


Left Turn Crossing One Oncoming Lane

Left Turn Crossing Two Oncoming Lanes

One-Way Separated Bike Lane



Two-Way Separated Bike Lane or Sidepath



In addition, designers shall provide separate signal phases at locations with multiple left or right turn lanes and consider providing separate signal phases for the following situations:

  • Where sight obstructions limit bicycle visibility;
  • At locations where bicycle volumes and/or parallel pedestrian volumes are high and turning motorists are unable to find appropriate gaps;
  • At locations where more than 5 percent of the turning traffic volume is heavy vehicles; 
  • Locations where motorists may turn across the bikeway at speeds over 30 mph or on roads with posted speeds of 35 mph or greater.

Protected phases and turning restrictions may be implemented on a permanent basis, through actuation, or during specific hours. If only one approach meets the criteria above, consider a treatment to address that approach before considering an intersection-wide treatment (e.g., evaluate a protected only left-turn phase if only the left turning volume threshold is exceeded but not the right turning volume threshold).

Where Table 8-5 or the list of criteria indicates that one or more vehicular turning movements should be phase separated from bicyclists, but a separated phase is not feasible or desirable, designers should consider a leading bicycle interval and/or a flashing yellow arrow. Additional treatments are discussed in Section

Conventional, buffered, and raised bike lanes will follow either traffic signals or pedestrian signals, as directed. Where right turn only lanes are present (see Section 6.5.3) a conventional or buffered bicycle lane cannot be placed to the right of the turn lane. If a bicycle lane must be placed to the right of a right turn lane for safety and to accommodate the design user (i.e., high volume of vehicles crossing the bicycle lane to turn right), designers shall convert the bicycle lane to a raised bike lane or separated bike lane and follow the principles set forward in this section. Signal phase separation is required for a raised bicycle lane located to the right of a right turn lane (see Section 6.5.4). Phasing Schemes

Designers may incorporate a bicycle signal phase at a signalized intersection to reduce potential conflicts between bicyclists and motor vehicles. Designers should consider both the operational and safety impacts of signal phasing changes at an intersection. Designers should be aware that a phasing scenario may necessitate a separate motor vehicle turn lane and an additional phase, which may increase delay for some users, including bicyclists. Fully separated movements may require longer signal cycle lengths, which may result in reduced user compliance with signal indications and therefore increase potential for conflict. However, the need to protect bicyclists from turning conflicts should be considered a higher priority over reducing bicyclist delay.

Many of the signal phasing options described in Section 8.3.4 for pedestrians can also be adapted to eliminate or manage conflicts between bicyclists and motorists. This section describes four schemes of bicycle signal phasing that employs some of the techniques discussed in Section 8.3.4. There are numerous phasing options available to designers, and not all options are possible depending on the type of bikeway provided at the intersection (e.g., conventional bike lane, raised bike lane, separated bike lane). These schemes are intended to provide examples of some of the options available.

Exclusive Bicycle Phase

This phasing scheme represents a fully separated bicycle movement. All motorized vehicle movements, including conflicting vehicle turns across the bikeway, are restricted during the exclusive bicycle phase. Exclusive turn lanes for the conflicting vehicle turns are not required since all vehicle movements are stopped. Some pedestrian movements may be allowed during the exclusive bike phase.

If bicyclists move independently of pedestrians, this phasing requires the use of a standard traffic signal face designated for bicycle use or a bicycle signal face consistent with IA-16 that is separate from the motor vehicle signal. Alternatively, bicyclists may be directed to follow pedestrian signals during a shared, protected bicycle and pedestrian phase. In this case, a [BICYCLE] USE PED SIGNAL sign (R9-5) should be installed. R9-5 sign installation should only be considered for use on shared use paths, raised bike lanes, or separated bike lanes. Right (or Left) turn on red shall be prohibited during the protected bicycle phase. Depending on the signal phasing, a blank out or static NO TURN ON RED (R10-11) sign shall be provided.

Where a pedestrian-only phase is provided, a text-based BICYCLE USE PED SIGNAL sign may be used to allow bicyclists to use the pedestrian-only phase. See Section 8.4.1.

Depending on right and left turn volumes, the exclusive bike phasing scheme is more likely to have an impact on motor vehicle operations. To accommodate queues or an increase in signal cycle, consider extending turn lane storage lengths, if feasible.

Concurrent Protected Bicycle Phase

This phasing scheme also represents a protected-only bicycle movement. The bicycle phase runs concurrently with parallel through motor vehicle phases, but conflicting turns across the bikeway are restricted. Right and left-turn movements across the bikeway operate under a protected-only phase. Exclusive turn lanes for conflicting vehicle turns will be necessary. In this phasing scheme, a bicycle shall be controlled by a bicycle signal head separate from the vehicle signal. See Section 8.4.1 for signal indication options. Right (or left) turns on red shall be prohibited during the protected bicycle phase. Depending on the signal phasing, a blank out or static NO TURN ON RED (R10-11) sign shall be provided.

Depending on left and right turning volumes, this phasing scheme may have an impact on motor vehicle operations, especially for the turning movements across the bikeway. Turn lane storage lengths may need to be extended to accommodate queues; reducing split times for other phases or increasing signal cycle length may also be necessary. This phasing scheme can be effective for bikeways along streets with high through movement volumes and low turning volumes.

Leading Bicycle Interval

At locations where bicycle volumes and/or motor vehicle turning volumes are lower than the threshold shown in Table 8-5, or at locations where a bicycle protected phase is not feasible, there may be benefits to providing a leading bicycle interval (LBI) or leading through interval (LTI). For LTI, designers should refer to Section This phasing scheme represents a partially separated bicycle movement. Leading intervals are typically between three and eight seconds long and occur in advance of the green indication for turning motor vehicles. For pedestrians, if a protected intersection is used and bicyclists are allowed to queue in front of the crosswalk, the leading interval may be reduced as bicyclists will be positioned ahead of adjacent motor vehicle lanes and, by design, will be able to establish themselves in the intersection sooner with a short leading interval. Because it only requires a few seconds, a leading bicycle interval may have only a minor impact on motor vehicle operations and, in general, does not require a longer signal cycle length. However, on higher travel corridors, the designer may wish to perform a microsimulation of the proposed phase plan prior to implementation to estimate the difference in travel time between scenarios.

An LBI allows a bicyclist to enter the conflict area prior to a turning motorist, improving their visibility as they cross the intersection. In some cases, an LBI may allow bicyclists to clear the conflict point before motor vehicles enter the intersection. A parallel LPI may also be considered where there is a parallel pedestrian crossing. When a protected left turn phase is provided, it should occur as a lagging phase to prevent left turning vehicles continuing to cross during the LBI. Designers shall also avoid the “Yellow Trap” (see TEM [403-9]) when providing a lagging turn phase.

In this phasing scheme, a bicycle must be controlled by a signal head that is separate from the motor vehicle signal. Any of the signal indication options from Section 8.4.1 may be used to control bicyclist movements for an LPI except for the bicycle signal face (per IA-16). Right (or left) turns on red shall be prohibited during the LBI under this scenario. At locations where additional motor vehicle capacity is desired or there are concerns about compliance with a static sign, the use of a blank out NO TURN ON RED (R10-11) sign may be considered.

LBIs only assist bicycles waiting at the stop line at the beginning of the green interval. They do not provide any protection to bicyclists who arrive after the LBI has ended. Because an LBI includes permissive turns while bicyclists may proceed through, designers should provide signing or signal indications to communicate that mutual yielding (see Section 3.4) conditions will apply. One possible phasing option for an LBI is provided in Figure 8-5. Designers can also consider regulatory signs, such as the R10-15 series TURNING VEHICLES YIELD TO BICYCLISTS (AND PEDESTRIANS) (see Section 8.8.1), and warning signs stating WATCH FOR TURNING VEHICLES. Section 4D of the OMUTCD provides additional signal information using protected and permissive signal design for right and left turns.

Concurrent Bicycle Phase with Permissive Vehicle Turns

This phasing option represents a common scenario at most intersections where bicyclists in a shared lane or bike lane are not provided any exclusive time in the intersection. In this case, bicyclists are crossing the intersection concurrent with parallel through motor vehicles, and motorists may make permissive turns that cross their path if separate right turn lanes are not provided. This phasing scheme has the lowest impact on motor vehicle operations but may not adequately address turning motorist/through bicyclist conflicts. Any of the signal indication options from Section 8.4.1 may be used to control bicyclist movements with concurrent bicycle phases except for the bicycle signal face (per IA-16). Designers should apply the following treatments as appropriate:

Figure 8-5: Signal Phasing Scheme with LBI

Figure 8-5

  • Regulatory signs, such as the R10-15 series TURNING VEHICLES YIELD TO BICYCLISTS (AND PEDESTRIANS) (see Section 8.8.1);
  • Warning signs for bicyclists to WATCH FOR TURNING VEHICLES;
  • An offset bicycle crossing to create space for yielding (see Chapter 6);
  • Geometric treatments to reduce vehicle speeds and increase sight distances (see Chapters 3 and 7).

8.5 Toucan Crossings with Traffic Signals

A Toucan crossing, originating from the phrase ‘two can cross,’ is a traffic signal complemented by a geometric design treatment that restricts some motor vehicle movements while providing a signalized bicycle and pedestrian crossing. The pedestrian crossings may be located in their traditional location, from corner-to-corner, or may be consolidated to one crossing of the roadway adjacent to the bicycle crossing (see Figure 8-6). A consolidated crossing may reduce conflicts with motorists, but it requires pedestrians to cross away from their traditional line of travel and require a larger central island size to accommodate them while maintaining separation from bicyclists.

This design stops motor vehicle traffic on the major street during the entirety of the bicyclist and pedestrian crossing. These intersections restrict through and left turn motor vehicle movements from the side street, creating a protected crossing for bicyclists. Motorists are permitted to make a right turn movement from the side street, thus removing it from signal control.

This design may be considered for major arterial crossings where it is not desirable to provide a PHB or a full traffic signal. A typical application for a Toucan crossing is where a bicycle boulevard crosses an arterial street. Toucan crossings may also be used at T-intersections.

8.5.1 Geometric Design Features and Signal Equipment Placement Considerations

There are several key features of this type of crossing:

  • Minor street center medians for bicyclist separation from motor vehicles and space for bicycle signal placement;
  • Raised median or raised bike lane to create a queueing area for bicycles;
  • Pedestrian crosswalks on all legs or consolidated to one crossing of the major street;
  • Channelization island to restrict motorist through and left turns from minor street;
  • Pedestrian signals for pedestrians crossing motor vehicle movements;
  • Pedestrian signals for pedestrians crossing signalized bike lanes (if a two-stage crossing is provided);
  • Bicycle signals for bicycles crossing the major street.

Parking restrictions on the minor street may be necessary within 75 ft. to 100 ft. from the intersection to accommodate motorist shifting tapers and space for the bicycle queuing area and pedestrian crossing island. In addition, median noses of channelization islands should be plowable. Due to the center of the roadway alignment for the bicycle movement, green-colored pavement may be used to delineate the bicycle lane and crossings.

Where pedestrians cross from corner-to-corner, the pedestrian pushbuttons are needed for crossings from all four corners and actuation for bicyclists would be separate. Where pedestrians crossing to the center of the intersection and cross parallel to the bicycle crossing, all pedestrian and bicycle pushbutton equipment is located within the raised islands and the number of pedestrian pushbuttons is reduced.

Figure 8-6: Reserved for Future Use

8.5.2 Toucan Crossing Signal Timing Considerations

A Toucan crossing’s signal timing should accommodate both pedestrian and bicycle crossings and their unique operating characteristics. Since the pedestrian crossing and bicycle crossings are separated, there is flexibility in how the signalized crossing is timed:

  • When a bicyclist is detected, the bicycle signal should be activated, and the total phase length should be based on the signal timing guidance in Section 8.4.4;
  • When a pedestrian is detected, the pedestrian signal should be activated and the total phase length (WALK and FLASHING DON’T WALK) should be based on pedestrian clearance times in the OMUTCD. The bicycle signal should also be activated with the pedestrian phase since the bicycle signal phase length is less than the pedestrian phase length and there are no conflicts between the two phases in this timing plan;
  • Designers have the option of activating the pedestrian signal when a bicyclist is detected to reduce potential pedestrian delay. This is a particularly important consideration if the pedestrian crossing is moved to the center of the intersection; as described in Section 8.5.1.

Designers should consider the impact of the signal activation in a coordinated signal system. The guidance in Section 8.6 for PHBs in coordinated signal systems will also apply to Toucan signals.

8.6 Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons

A Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (PHB) is a type of traffic beacon that facilitates a roadway crossing by stopping major street traffic with a red indication. PHBs are similar to pedestrian signals and are used in variety of applications to improve crossing safety and reduce crossing delay for pedestrians and bicyclists. These devices may be used in a variety of contexts (urban, suburban, and rural).

The decision to provide a PHB at either an intersection or a mid-block crossing is discussed in Sections 4.4.3, 6.4, and 8.2. PHB operation is described in the OMUTCD (Section 4F.03).

8.6.1 General Design Considerations

In addition to the standards specified in the OMUTCD (Sections 4F.01 and 4F.03), the following design considerations may be applicable:

  • Pedestrian signals shall be provided in accordance with Section 8.3.1;
  • Pedestrian pushbuttons shall be provided in accordance with Section 8.3.2;
  • When PHBs are installed for bicycle use, refer to guidance in Section 8.6.3;
  • Parking and other sight obstructions should be prohibited for at least 100 ft. in advance of and at least 20 ft. beyond the marked crosswalk, or site accommodations should be made through curb extensions or other techniques to provide adequate sight distance;
  • A W11-2 (PEDESTRIAN), S1-1 (SCHOOL), or W11-15 (TRAIL) crossing warning sign should be provided on the mast arm overhead or to the right with a diagonal downward arrow (W16-7P) plaque;
  • A similar sign to those listed in the previous bullet point with an “AHEAD” plaque (W16-9P) may be installed in advance of a PHB;
  • Warning beacons may be installed in advance of PHBs, though if installed, they should only activate when the PHB is not in “dark” mode;
  • An R10-23 (CROSSWALK, STOP ON RED) sign, mounted overhead on the PHB mast arm, shall be included for each major street approach at a PHB.

8.6.2 Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon Timing & Reducing Delay

Designers should follow the pedestrian signal phase timing guidance in Section 8.3.3 for PHBs. Designers may consider inserting a steady red clearance interval before the walk interval begins. At locations where both bicyclist and pedestrians use PHBs, the crossing interval should be timed based on pedestrian crossings design parameters and speeds. Pedestrian signal timings will most likely provide sufficient time for a bicyclist to clear the entire intersection. See Section 8.4.3 for additional design guidance for signal timing for bicyclists.

To minimize delay for both pedestrians and bicyclists and increase compliance, a PHB should operate in isolation from other intersections (i.e., in “free operation”), if possible. The maximum length of the “dark until activated” period after activation of the pushbutton should be as short as feasible (i.e., less than 30 seconds).

If a PHB is installed within a coordinated system, the designer may choose to run the timing plan in coordination. While not always desirable from a non-motorist user perspective, coordination may be necessary if a PHB is installed near the intersection of two major streets (less than 750 ft.). To mitigate potential pedestrian and bicycle non-compliance, the designer may consider using a half cycle length to reduce pedestrian and bicycle delay.

8.6.3 Considerations for Bicycle Traffic

When installed, PHBs should be located to respond to bicyclist desire lines with respect to crossing major roadways. Bicyclists should not be expected to significantly detour from their direct travel path to reach an intersection or mid-block location with a PHB, as this can create additional delay for bicyclists and may encourage unwanted crossing behaviors.

Pedestrian hybrid beacons intended for bicyclist use should provide clear and unambiguous messages to bicyclists, and beacon actuation should be accessible to bicyclists. Where PHBs are provided, side street motor vehicle traffic is stop sign controlled, pedestrian traffic is pedestrian signal controlled, and bicycle traffic may be controlled by either of the following:

  • Stop sign – bicyclists cross as motorists at intersections;
  • Pedestrian signal – bicyclists are directed to cross as a pedestrian.

At such intersections, bicyclists have the choice to use the stop sign if there are adequate gaps in traffic on the major road. If there are not adequate gaps or if a bicyclist would be more comfortable using the pedestrian signal, they can activate the PHB and wait for the WALK indication. The following discussion provides contextual considerations for each crossing strategy (see Section 8.4.2 for detection guidance).

Stop Sign Control

After stopping at the intersection and finding an adequate gap in traffic, the bicyclist may cross the street. This option minimizes bicyclist crossing delays during periods where there are sufficient gaps in major street traffic. During periods of higher traffic volume, bicyclists may exhibit unwanted crossing behavior if gaps in traffic are inadequate and it is not clear how to activate the PHB (see Section 6.4). For this reason, bicyclists should be given the option of using the pedestrian signal control. The PHB should be designed to clearly communicate how a bicyclist can activate the beacon, as described below.

Pedestrian Signal Control

A bicyclist should be provided with one or more of the following options to activate the beacon:

  • Curbside pushbutton (this pushbutton is in addition to the pedestrian pushbutton located at or near the top back of the pedestrian ramp);
  • Opportunity to exit the roadway to access the pedestrian pushbutton via a curb ramp to the sidewalk;
  • Passive detection in the location where bicyclists are likely to operate.

The BIKES USE PED SIGNAL sign (OMUTCD R9-5) should be mounted adjacent to the pedestrian signal heads. If passive detection is used at an intersection, the detection should be designed to discern between a bicycle and motor vehicle, or a bicycle lane or separated bike lane should be provided so a motorist does not activate the PHB. See Section 8.4.2 for additional design guidance on bicycle detection.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are not legally allowed to start crossing during FLASHING DON’T WALK. If a bicyclist perceives that they can clear the intersection, they might enter crosswalks during this phase. During FLASHING DON’T WALK at a PHB, motor vehicles typically have an alternating “wig-wag” red indication and can proceed through the intersection if it is clear. Given the higher speed of a bicyclist compared to a pedestrian, it may be difficult for a motorist to see the bicyclist. At locations with higher volumes of bicyclists. it may be desirable to consider a full traffic signal.

At a PHB, designers may consider creating a separated bicycle lane approaching an intersection and cross bicyclists parallel to the crosswalk. To minimize conflicts with merging or turning motorists near the intersection, it is recommended the bicyclists be channelized into a separated bicycle lane 50 ft. to 100 ft. in advance of the intersection (see Figure 8-7).

8.7 Warning Beacons

Warning Beacons are yellow flashing lights that supplement warning signs, or in some cases regulatory signs, to provide advance notification of a confined space (such as a bridge or tunnel) or shared use path crossing where bicyclists may be present. Yellow Beacons used as warning devices shall not be installed without an appropriate warning or regulatory sign. See the OMUTCD (Section 4L.03) for additional details.

Figure 8-7: Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon at High Volume Major Road

Figure 8-7

8.7.1 Active Warning Beacons

Active Warning Beacons are actuated yellow flashing lights that supplement warning signs to provide advance notification of a specific roadway feature (tunnel entrance, pedestrian crossing, etc.). Beacons may be activated either passively (e.g., video detection, radar detection, by time of day) or actively by using a pushbutton.

One example of this application is a bridge with limited sight distance and lacking bicycle specific infrastructure. Similar applications may be appropriate to warn motorists of unexpected or less visible pedestrians or bicyclists on facilities such as in tunnels or on roads with significant horizontal or vertical curvature. See Figure 8-8 for an example of warning beacon applications.

When used at uncontrolled crossings, active warning beacons are most effective along streets with three or fewer travel lanes and posted speed limits at or below 35 mph. Research has found yielding rates of 45% can be achieved at locations with these characteristics.5

For the design of Active Warning Beacons, designers should reference the following:

  • Flashing Beacons – OMUTCD (Section 4L) and TEM (405)
  • Warning Signage – OMUTCD (Section 2C)
  • Detection – Sections 8.3.2 and 8.4.2

Flashing beacons may be used in a number of different applications for bicycles and pedestrians. However, use of passive, continuously flashing beacons is not recommended, as indiscriminate use can degrade their effectiveness and affect the usefulness of other flasher locations.

Figure 8-8: Active Warning Beacon Example

Figure 8-8

8.7.2 Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (Interim Approval)

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) are user-actuated, high-intensity yellow LEDs that flash in a rapidly repeating sequence. Like Active Warning Beacons, RRFBs may supplement crossing warning signs. However, RRFBs, installed at appropriate locations, can achieve high driver yielding rates. Research has shown that RRFBs can achieve motorist yielding rates between 80 and 100 percent both during the day and during periods of darkness when installed under appropriate conditions.6 Designers should follow the guidance in Section 4.4.3 and Section 6.4 for when an RRFB may be an appropriate treatment.

While RRFBs have been used on roadways with posted speeds 45 mph and above and on roads with more than four travel lanes, caution should be used in these applications as driver yielding percentages may be lower compared to lower speed and volume scenarios.

RRFBs may also be beneficial at multi-lane roundabout exits where motorist yielding compliance may be poor and gaps are infrequent during peak hours (see Section 9.4.4). RRFBs may be used per FHWA Interim Approval 21 (IA-21).

The general crossing design and standards of an RRFB will be the same as for a crossing without an RRFB (see OMUTCD [Section 2C] for crossing sign types, sizes, and placement). In addition, the following design considerations apply to RRFB installation:

  • When used, RRFBs shall supplement post-mounted W11-2 (PEDESTRIAN), S1-1 (SCHOOL), or W11-15 (TRAIL) crossing warning signs with a downward diagonal arrow (W16-7P) plaque, or an overhead-mounted W11-2, S1-1, or W11-15 crossing warning sign, located at or immediately adjacent to an uncontrolled marked crosswalk. The RRFB shall be installed on the same support as the associated crossing warning sign and plaque.
  • For any approach where RRFBs are used to supplement post-mounted signs, a minimum of two (2) W11-2, S1-1, or W11-15 crossing warning signs (each with an RRFB unit and a W16-7P plaque) shall be installed at the crosswalk, one on the right-hand side of the roadway and one on the left-hand side of the roadway. On a divided highway, the left- hand side assembly should be installed on or within the median, if practical, rather than on the far left-hand side of the highway. Careful consideration needs to be given to RRFB installation with especially wide medians (20 ft. or greater) where prevailing speeds are 45 mph or greater.
  • Except for crosswalks across the approach to, or egress from, a roundabout, an RRFB shall not be used for crosswalks across approaches controlled by YIELD signs, STOP signs, traffic control signals, or pedestrian hybrid beacons.
  • RRFBs shall be pedestrian or bicycle actuated. Pushbuttons are the most common method, though passive detection methods such as motion or break-beam sensors may be appropriate in locations where they will not erroneously activate for those not wishing to cross the street. See Sections 8.3.2 and 8.4.2 for design guidance on pedestrian and bicycle detection, respectively.
  • The RRFB unit associated with a post-mounted sign and plaque may be located between and immediately adjacent to the bottom of the crossing warning sign and the top of the supplemental plaque or within 12 inches above the crossing warning sign. If the RRFB unit is supplementing an overhead-mounted sign, the RRFB unit shall be mounted directly below the bottom of the sign.
  • RRFB timing shall be based on the procedures provided in the OMUTCD (Section 4E.06) for pedestrian clearance timing.
  • When considering additional enhancements, such as crossing islands or additional signage, designers should follow the guidance in Table 4-5. In addition, the following should be considered:
  • It is preferable to erect crosswalk signage on the far-side of crosswalks less than 20 ft. in width. This placement helps ensure that sightlines between pedestrians and motorists are not obstructed.
  • Where sight distance approaching the crosswalk where RRFBs are installed is less than deemed necessary by the engineer, an additional RRFB may be installed on that approach in advance of the crosswalk. This RRFB would supplement a W11-2 (Pedestrian), S1-1 (School), or W11-15 (Trail) crossing warning sign with an AHEAD (W16-9P) or distance (W16-2P or W16-2aP) plaque. If an additional RRFB is installed in advance of the crosswalk, it shall supplement, not replace, the RRFBs located at the crosswalk.
  • If a speech pushbutton information message is used in conjunction with an RRFB: a locator tone shall be provided, the audible information device shall not use vibrotactile indications or percussive indications, and the message should say, “Yellow lights are flashing.” The message should be spoken twice.
  • On four or six lane streets, RRFBs produce higher driver yielding rates when mounted in the median (or overhead) as well as on the right edge of the roadway in combination with advanced stop or yield lines.
  • RRFBs may be solar powered and communicate with other assemblies via radio. This may eliminate the need for a power supply and/or conduit between the units, though the designer needs to ensure proper overhead lighting is present at the crossing.
  • Unless RRFBs are specifically designed as warning devices for bicycle use, flashing operation should be timed for pedestrians. The flashing operation following each actuation should be based on the OMUTCD procedures for timing of pedestrian clearance times for pedestrian signals. When installed for both pedestrians and bicyclists, doing so will provide sufficient time for bicyclists to clear the roadway.

8.8 Warning and Regulatory Signs

The following section provides guidance for traffic control signs, which can improve pedestrian and bicyclists’ safety and operation for all types of facilities. This guidance supplements the OMUTCD for these treatments. Per the OMUTCD, all signs must be legible and color distinguishable during dark and daylight conditions. This can be accomplished with external illumination or by using retroreflective materials.

8.8.1 Crossing and Conflict Signage

Pedestrian and Bicycle Crossing Warning Signage

Warning signs for pedestrian and/or bicyclist crossings are comprised of a BICYCLE W11-1, PEDESTRIAN W11-2, or PEDESTRIAN and BICYCLE W11-15 sign and a DOWNWARD POINTED ARROW W16-7P supplemental warning plaque, erected at the crossing. In general, it is recommended to use W11-2 signs at sidewalk crossings where bicyclists are uncommon, W11-15 signs at shared use path crossings with both users, and W11-1 for crossings where pedestrians are uncommon. The arrow should point to the crossing in the road, with right-hand signs using an arrow pointing left and left-hand signs using an arrow pointing right.

While the OMUTCD shows TRAIL X-ING (W11-15P) as an optional plaque for the PEDESTRIAN and BICYCLE W11-15 sign, the DOWNWARD POINTED ARROW W16-7P plaque is required at trail crossings, as it communicates the crossing location.

Signs may be mounted on the far-side of the crosswalk approach to improve visibility between waiting pedestrians or bicyclists and approaching motorists. To add emphasis, a second set of crossing warning signage may be placed within a median (when present), or the left side of the road. This is a recommended practice on approaches with two or more approach lanes.

If there is insufficient intersection sight-distance (ISD) for motorists approaching the crossing, advance warning signage should be installed upstream of the crossing using the same warning sign type supplied at the crossing, supplemented by a plaque (W16-2P or -2aP) communicating the downstream distance to the crossing.

Yield Here to Pedestrians/Bicyclists Sign (R1-5)

At uncontrolled crossings where stop or yield lines are provided to denote the location where motorists should yield to pedestrians in a crossing, a YIELD HERE TO PEDESTRIAN sign may be used. If the yield condition includes bicyclists, a YIELD HERE TO BICYCLES AND PEDESTRIANS sign in black letters on a regulatory sign panel may be used.

While this sign may be used on single-lane approaches, they are recommended for use on all multi-lane approaches to encourage motorists to yield farther away from a crosswalk, improving visibility and reducing the risk of a multiple-threat crash. These signs are typically placed 20 to 50 ft. upstream of a crosswalk.

In-Street Crossing Signs (R1-6)

IN-STREET CROSSING Signs (R1-6) remind road users of state law regarding right of way at an unsignalized pedestrian crosswalks. Such signs should instruct vehicle operators to YIELD to pedestrians, and be placed on a centerline, lane line, or within a median. In-Street Crossing Signs are not to be post-mounted on the right or left side of the roadway.

When used on streets operating at or below 30 mph, the In-Street Pedestrian crossing sign (R1- 6 series) can achieve motorist yielding rates between 60 and 90 percent. The R1-6 sign has also shown to be effective when deployed in a “gated” configuration on multi-lane streets, meaning a sign on the center line and additional signs located on each travel lane line.7 These signs tend to require more frequent maintenance due to their in-street placement.

At locations where sight distance might be limited due to terrain or roadside visual clutter, the crossing may be enhanced with an OVERHEAD PEDESTRIAN CROSSING sign (R1-9 series). An R1-9 sign may be upgraded to an active beacon if supplemented with a flashing yellow light.

For more information, see OMUTCD Section 2B.12.

Turning Vehicles Yield to Pedestrians (R10-15)

TURNING VEHICLE YIELD TO PEDESTRIANS signs (R10-15) may be used to remind turning motorists of the right of way of pedestrians in a crosswalk.

While the R10-15 is listed as a sign to help regulate road users at signals (included under “Traffic Signal Signs” in the OMUTCD [Section 2B.53]), this sign may also be used at unsignalized locations providing the same regulatory reminder. Unlike other signs in Section 2B.53, the R10-15 does not reference signal indications or operations (i.e., “ON RED”). Further, the regulatory message is applicable to motorists on uncontrolled approaches who must yield to conflicting pedestrians who have the right of way when turning across their path.

Turning Vehicles Yield to Bicyclists

Where turning vehicles interface with bikeways at intersections, a TURNING VEHICLES YIELD TO BICYCLISTS sign in black letters on a regulatory sign panel may be installed to alert motorists of their requirement to yield to bicyclists within a crossing. In cases where motorists need to be alerted to a potential conflict with pedestrians and bicyclists, the sign should include both the words PEDESTRIANS and BICYCLISTS.

The sign can be located at the near or far-side of the intersection. Engineering judgment should be used to determine a location that is conspicuous to the turning motorist.

This sign may be used at controlled or uncontrolled crossing locations. Sign installation should be limited to the following:

  • Crossings where turning motor vehicle volumes exceed 50 vehicles/hour;
  • Locations where there is a documented history with drivers failing to yield;
  • New installations of left side bicycle lanes or two-way bikeways where counterflow bicycle travel may be unexpected.

Blank-Out Signs

Blank-out signs are illuminated versions of static signs that may be active all of the time, or may be dark for specific conditions. They may be used in place of static warning or regulatory signs where it is desirable for the regulation or warning to be active a portion of the time. Where detection is used for sign activation, passive detection strategies may be preferable to requiring bicyclists to actuate a pushbutton. The use of advance detection may also be considered to ensure the blank out condition is activated prior to the arrival of a bicyclist. See Chapter 8.4.2 for further guidance related to bicycle detection for bicyclists. Common applications of blank out signs to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety include the following:

  • Providing a temporary NO TURN ON RED restriction at a signalized intersection during protected pedestrian or bicycle phases;
  • Providing a temporary or time-of-day-based turn restriction.

8.8.2 Bicycle Lane Signage

Bicycle Lane Regulatory Signs (R3-17)

The standard BIKE LANE (R3-17) sign may be placed along bike lanes, separated bike lanes, or bicycle-only paths to indicate the restricted nature of the bikeway to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. These signs may be placed in advance of the start of the bikeway and at periodic intervals along a bikeway, as appropriate. Supplemental plaques indicating AHEAD and ENDS may be placed below the sign to communicate the start or end of a bikeway.

Intersection Lane Control Signs (R3-8 Series)

The R3-8 sign series include regulatory signs which communicates the presence and location of a preferential queue lane in advance of an intersection. While use of a bicycle symbol is not permitted on these signs, the text BIKE may be used on an R3-8 sign.

Begin Right (Left) Turn Lane, Yield to Bikes (R4-4)

The R4-4 sign is a regulatory sign which communicates the start of an auxiliary turn lane and reminds motorists of the presence of bicyclists and their obligation to yield to through bicyclists. While the sign does not mention bike lanes, it is only used where a bike lane is present. This sign should not be used to inform bicyclists and motorists of a weaving maneuver necessary when a through travel lane adjacent to the bike lane becomes a drop turn lane (see OMUTCD [Section 9B.05]).

Wrong Way Bicycling Sign (R5-1b)

Bicycle WRONG WAY signs may be installed as a countermeasure to discourage wrong-way bicycling within bike lanes and shared travel lanes. A supplemental RIDE WITH TRAFFIC (R9-3cP) plaque may be added. This sign assembly can be mounted back-to-back with other roadway signs (such as parking signs) to reduce sign clutter and minimize visibility to other traffic. The RIDE WITH TRAFFIC plaque should be mounted immediately below the Bicycle WRONG WAY sign. Where used, the sign(s) face toward wrong-way bicyclists, placed on the left-hand side of a two-way street, or on one or both sides and facing away from traffic on one-way streets.

It may be difficult to discourage wrong way riding with regulatory signage alone, as this behavior can reflect a lack of wayfinding signs or insufficient bicycle network connections. If wrong way riding persists in the presence of this signage, consideration should be given to reevaluating the bicycle network to provide a suitable connection. One-way streets that have persistent wrong way bicycling may benefit from the conversion of the street to two-way operation for bicyclists.

Except Bicycles Plaque

For locations where warning or regulatory signs are not applicable to bicyclists, an EXCEPT BICYCLES plaque should be used to supplement the warning or regulatory sign. These plaques may be applicable to supplement a variety of signs, such as DO NOT ENTER, NO OUTLET, ONE WAY, RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT, etc. The R3-7bP version of the sign should only be used with other regulatory signs; the version with black letters on a warning sign panel should only be used with other warning signs.

Bicycles Merging Signs

For locations where a bicycle lane ends, it may be desirable to warn both bicyclists and motorists of the merge condition. This can be accomplished with a BICYCLES MERGE sign in black letters on a yellow warning sign panel, located at the point where a bicycle merging maneuver may occur. A supplemental W16-2aP plaque may be used to communicate the distance to the merge or end of bike lane. Either warning sign may be used in lieu of a BICYCLE BIKE LANE (R3-17) sign with supplemental ENDS plaque (R3-17bP). These warning signs should not be used where a bike lane drops in advance of intersection queue lanes and resumes immediately after the intersection.

8.8.3 Use of Custom Signs

Consistent with the OMUTCD, custom signs are permissible for situations in which provided signs do not convey information or instruction for road users. Such signs must be designed to OMUTCD standards. These include using appropriate shapes, colors, backgrounds, and legends consistent with the sign’s function. The use of experimental symbols is prohibited.

8.9 Pavement Markings

8.9.1 Yield Lines

Yield lines consistent with OMUTCD Section 3B.16 may be used to indicate the point at which a bicyclist or motorist should yield in compliance with a YIELD sign or a YIELD HERE FOR PEDESTRIANS/ BICYCLES sign. Yield lines should comprise individual triangles with a base of 12 to 24 inches wide and a height equal to 1.5 times the base. The space between the triangles should be 3 to 12 inches wide. Yield lines may be desirable to emphasize the requirement to yield in advance of pedestrian or bicycle crossings at the following locations:

  • Uncontrolled crossings;
  • Exit legs of signalized crossings where motorists turn across a bicycle crossing during a concurrent phase;
  • Motorist yield points at mixing zones (see Figure 6-32).

8.9.2 Green-Colored Pavement (Interim Approval)

Green-colored pavement may supplement other bikeway pavement markings to communicate to road users where portions of the roadway have been designated for exclusive or preferential use by bicyclists, and to enhance the conspicuity of a bicycle lane, bicycle lane extension, bicycle crossing, bicycle box, or two-stage bicycle turn box at or through an intersection. Ohio has statewide interim approval for the use of green-colored pavement (FHWA IA-14). Green colored pavement is an optional treatment that may be used by any jurisdiction within Ohio provided that each abide by the specific conditions for use as contained in the FHWA Interim Approval document and provide ODOT with a list of locations where the treatment has been installed. The use of green-colored pavement should be applied consistently throughout a bicycle network and can be used to improve the legibility of a bikeway network.

If green-colored pavement is not used throughout a bikeway network, it is recommended that it be used to guide bicyclists through transition areas between bikeway types and bikeway crossings to improve the legibility of the route.

Chapter 8 Endnotes

  1. FHWA Tech Brief – “Safety Evaluation of Pedestrian Countdown Signals”, FHWA Publication No. FHWA-HRT-19-046.
  2. (2021) Cesme, B., P.G. Furth, R. Cashman, and K. Lee. Development of pedestrian recall versus actuation guidelines for pedestrian crossings at signalized intersections. Submitted to Transportation Research Record.
  3. AASHTO Pedestrian Guide 2004, p. 103.
  4. Thompson, Samson Ray Riley, “Bicyclist Compliance at Signalized Intersections” (2015). Portland State University, Dissertations and Theses. Paper 2222.
  5. Fitzpatrick, K., S. Turner, M. Brewer, P. Carlson, B. Ullman, N. Trout, E. S. Park, J. Whitacre, N. Lalani, and D. Lord. National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 562: Improving Pedestrian Safety at Unsignalized Crossings. NCHRP, Transportation Research Board, Washington, DC, 2006.
  6. Shurbutt, J. and R. Van Houten. Effects of Yellow Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons on Yielding at Multilane Uncontrolled Crosswalk. FHWA-HRT-10-043. Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, DC, 2010.
  7. Western Michigan University. User Guide for R1-6 Gateway Treatment for Pedestrian Crossings. Prepared for Michigan Department of Transportation, Lansing, MI, 2016.