Greater City Providence

LED Crosswalk for bikes and pedestrians

This video depicts a raised crossing for pedestrians and cyclists at the entrance to a roundabout in Papendrecht, Netherlands. This crossings adds an infrared sensor which detects approaching pedestrians and cyclists activating LEDs embedded in the roadway. The Netherlands currently has about 20 of these crossings for pedestrians, this represents the first one for bikes as well.

According to local authorities this is supposed to be a sustainably safe roundabout, among others because the bicycle and pedestrian crossings have been elevated and the lanes are separated by islands, so pedestrians need only cross a single lane at a time.

Some opponents of this system raise the concern that drivers could become lulled by this system and not look for pedestrians and cyclists at crossings without the embedded LEDs.

Via: Fietsberaad news

Jef Nickerson

Jef is Greater City Providence's co-founder, editor, and publisher. He grew up on Cape Cod and lived in Boston; Portland, Maine; and New York before settling in Providence. In addition to urbanism, Jef is interested in art, design, and ice cream. Please feel free to contact Jef if you have any question or comments about Greater City Providence.


  • based on my experience it would be hard to lull drivers more than they are today. However, it would probably reenforce the cars have the right of way unless it is a marked crosswalk meme that I see around town.

  • I like how they appear to be sensing when pedestrians are present. But around here you know the idiot plow drivers would rip them out of the roads.

    And for the U.S. we’d have to use red/blue strobes. That gets a drivers attention.

  • Too bad Coryndon beat me to the “I don’t think drivers around here could be lulled any more than they already are” comment!

    I’ve used such a cross-walk in NC that required the pedestrian to press a button and activate the lighting system. It seemed to work well, however I do agree about the plow comment, and wonder how it would help during the day.

  • RI Interpretation of lights in the road

    Lights off – no need to slow down or look for pedestrian or cyclists so if lights aren’t working you can plow into pedestrian or cyclist at full speed.
    Lights on – drive faster to beat pedestrian or cyclist to cross walk or jam on breaks so that the person tailgating you can drive into the back of your car and push you into the pedestrian or bicyclist.

  • I think these technological solutions are interesting from a grant writers perspective; and they make for an easier sell than proposing to simply fixing the ped signals we currently have power-point- presentation-wise; however, I think “solutions” like this put further barriers between the two humans interacting: the pedestrian and the driver.

    I think if our traffic engineering, Public Works and enforcement branches of government were a little more motivated from the top to pay attention to pedestrian facilities, we might be better served.

  • Newport had these lights on a crosswalk on Broadway at city hall for several years. The lights really worked and yes it was annoying for drivers. The lights have since either fallen into disrepair or have been disconnected.

  • I was Wakefield (pretty sure it’s Wakefield but it was a long time ago) and they had a more analog version of this. Each side of the crosswalk had a post with a bucket containing bright orange flags. You could grab a flag and hold it out into traffic to alert drivers that you wanted to cross. It worked remarkably well. I admit I was playing around with them a bit, but not a single driver failed to stop when I held the flag out. I like Jack’s point about limiting the interaction between the driver and the pedestrian. Perhaps the lights could be activated by a pedestrian standing there, rather than blinking automatically.

  • I pass a crosswalk like this every day in california. It works very well, but as others have mentioned, makes unmarked crosswalks even more hazardous.

  • While LED traffic lights and pedestrian crossings save energy and are cheaper over the life of the installation, they do not produce heat like incandescent bulbs. This poses a big problem in the winter when blowing snow and ice covers these lights and the LEDs don’t produce enough heat (through their energy-saving design) to melt the snow. The result is a possible major hazard to traffic. I’m not totally dissing the LED lights, I’m just saying that some kind of solution needs to be developed for this kind of thing, like a heating coil that only switches on when it detects moisture below a certain temperature. There are much better things the state could be spending this money on, perhaps fixing the Atwells Ave. bridge over the river by Valley Street which was badly damaged in last year’s floods.

  • This is already half in place in many parts of Providence. For instance the raised speed bump behind the statehouse.

    I agree with Andrew I, though. A sidewalk plow would be delicious (I just looked it up, they actually exist!).

  • Yup, I agree with Andrew I as well. I think there are far better uses for that money than flashing lights at crosswalks… like sidewalk plows, replacing the crossing lights that are currently broken (probably at least 25% of those in the city), better signage, better street markings, etc. Once we get all that, then if we have lots of money leftover, sure, flashing lights at crosswalks.

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