Batavia Debate Over The Safety Benefits Of Beacons At Crosswalks

Pedestrian accidents continue to be a major traffic safety concern for many reasons.  One reason is that various statistics show such accidents to be increasing; as well, pedestrian accidents are cause for concern due to the extent of injuries – many fatal – that usually accompany such accidents.  Various aspects of pedestrian accidents are further discussed on the “Chicago Pedestrian Accidents” page.

As frequently noted on this site (and also seen in many pedestrian accident summaries) many pedestrian accidents occur while people are lawfully trying to cross the street while in a crosswalk. In order to “highlight” such crosswalks – and otherwise draw more attention to them – cities and states have tried to enact various measures.  These measures have included installing “high-visibility” street signs alerting of crosswalks.  Another measure has been to install flashing “beacons” at crosswalks.

Despite such measures, pedestrian accidents (as well as bicycle accidents) continue to occur in crosswalks, including those that have beacons.  One notable accident happened on June 9, 2016 in Mount Prospect, and is summarized in the August 2, 2016 post titled “Bicyclist In Crosswalk Fatally Struck By SUV.”  As discussed in that post, the bicyclist was fatally struck in a crosswalk that had a flashing beacon.

Some believe that flashing beacons – and perhaps crosswalks for that matter – may provide pedestrians a “false sense of security.”  This issue has been raised in a recent debate in Batavia regarding three “flashing light” beacon crosswalks along Batavia Avenue (Route 31) at the McKee, Union and Morton cross streets.  The debate is further discussed in the July 19, 2017 Kane County Chronicle article titled “Batavia weighs Route 31 pedestrian crosswalk safety” as well as the June 19 Batavia Patch article titled “City Looks At Ditching Pedestrian Crosswalk Signals Along Route 31.”

An excerpt from the Kane County Chronicle article:

The rapid-flashing, yellow-light, pedestrian-activated beacons were installed nearly two years ago across the four-lane Batavia Avenue (Route 31) at McKee, Union and Morton streets.

The McKee street crossing is of greatest concern. There have been at least three minor accidents and several near-misses reported.

“The installation of flashing beacons at this crossing does not appear to have improved driver awareness or the overall safety of the crossing,” Public Works Director Gary Holm said. “There is a false sense of security that those lights are giving pedestrians.”

The article also discusses how some people believe the crosswalks with the beacons are a safety benefit, while others believe that they are not beneficial and should be removed.

Additional details regarding this pedestrian safety issue can be seen in the sources mentioned above.


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