Marked Crosswalks

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What are the Official Traffic Control Guidlines?
The City of Burbank follows State policies and the California Vehicle Code (CVC) when designing and installing traffic control devices. The CVC requires the City to follow the national guidelines for traffic control devices outlined in the State Traffic Engineering Manual. Traffic control devices include traffic signals, traffic signs, curb markings, and pavement markings. The State Manual covers all aspects of the placement, construction and maintenance of every form of approved traffic control device. The guidelines prescribe five basic requirements for all devices. They must:

  • Fulfill a need
  • Command attention
  • Convey a clear, simple meaning
  • Command respect of road users.

The State Manual emphasizes "uniformity" of traffic control devices. A uniform device conforms to the regulations for dimensions, color, graphics, and placement. The standard device should convey the same meaning at all times. Consistent use of traffic control devices protects the clarity of their messages. As stated in the State Manual, "uniformity" must also mean treating similar situations in the same way.

What is a Crosswalk?
Crosswalks are either "marked" or "unmarked." The CVC defines a "crosswalk" as the portion of a roadway at an intersection, which is an extension of the curb and property lines of the intersection street or is any other portion of a roadway which is marked as a pedestrian crossing location by painted lines. A "marked crosswalk" is any crosswalk that is delineated by white or yellow painted markings placed on the pavement. All other crosswalk locations are therefore "unmarked."

How are Crosswalks used?
At any crosswalk (marked or unmarked) in California, drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians. Crosswalks are marked mainly to encourage pedestrians to use a particular location to cross the street. Studies conducted on the relative safety of crosswalks support minimal installation of marked crosswalks.

The City of San Diego studied intersections at which there were both marked and unmarked crosswalks. The results were surprising. Although 1½ times as many people used the marked crosswalks, 6 times as many accidents occurred in the marked crosswalks. A pedestrian safety study in Long Beach, reported 8 times as many accidents in marked walks. Similar studies in other cities have confirmed these results.

What causes accidents at marked crosswalks?
Research suggests that marked crosswalks give pedestrians a false sense of security. Pedestrians often step off the curb into the crosswalk expecting drivers of vehicles approaching the crosswalk to stop. However, drivers frequently fail to stop and cause an accident. At all crosswalks, both marked and unmarked, it is the pedestrian’s responsibility to be cautious and alert before starting to cross the street.

At mid-block crosswalks on multi-lane roadways, another frequent factor in causing accidents involves the driver of a vehicle in the lane nearest to the curb stopping for a pedestrian that is waiting to cross or who is already in the crosswalk. The driver of a second vehicle traveling in the lane next to the stopped vehicle tries to pass the stopped vehicle and hits the pedestrian, even thought it is illegal for drivers to pass a stopped vehicle at a crosswalk. Pedestrians should be very cautious when walking in a crosswalk, especially when visibility is limited by vehicles already stopped at the crosswalk.

Where are crosswalks normally marked?
Crosswalks are marked at intersections where there is substantial conflict between vehicle and pedestrian movements, where significant pedestrian concentrations occur, where pedestrians could not otherwise recognize the proper place to cross, and where traffic movements are controlled. Examples of such locations are:

  • Approved school crossings
  • Signalized and four way stop intersections where there is significant pedestrian traffic and one or more crossing locations have been prohibited.

These examples follow the philosophy of marking crosswalks as a form of encouragement. In the first case, we are encouraging school children to use a crossing which is normally monitored. In the second case, we are encouraging all pedestrians to avoid a prohibited crossing. It is the City’s policy not to paint crosswalks at midblock locations where traffic is not controlled by stop signs or traffic signals. Painted crosswalks should only be used where necessary to direct pedestrians along the safest route.

What are special school crosswalks?
When a marked crosswalk has been established adjacent to a school building or school grounds, it shall be painted yellow. Other established marked crosswalks may be painted yellow if either the nearest point of the crosswalk is not more than 600 feet from a school building or grounds.

Crosswalks should be marked at all intersections on the "suggested route to school," available from your local school. They should also be marked where there is high conflict between vehicles and students (while crossing), where students are permitted to cross between intersections, or where students could not otherwise cross. The best safety measure for school age children is to educate them on how and where to safely cross the street.

For more information on marked crosswalks, call the Traffic Division at (818) 238-3915 from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

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