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Education

July 28, 2014

Solar signals address pedestrian safety at APSU

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Written by: News Staff
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Reviewing traffic issues around the APSU campus, Physical Plant Director Tom Hutchins found the perfect solution to address pedestrian safety around the busy campus.

Technically termed Rectangular Rapid Flash Beacon (RRFB crossing) these systems are becoming an increasingly popular solution popping up in cities around the country. The device has a significant ability to slow traffic for pedestrians. “These are solar powered LED lights that flash at a frequency comparable to emergency vehicles,” said Hutchins. “These have an effective rate for slowing approximately 80-90 percent of drivers as compared to traditional crossings, which only have approximately 20-30 percent effectiveness.”

A simple and highly effective method for slowing vehicles can be accomplished by using traffic calming devices such as speed tables, speed bumps, etc. However, these methods are problematic for emergency response vehicles, causing them to slow to a near stop – less than ideal when every second counts. Since the university is predominantly comprised of city streets, a less obstructive, yet effective solution had to be found. In comes the idea of crosswalks with solar powered flashing pedestrian crossing signs.

The campus has nearly doubled in size in the last ten years, and the paths people took from classroom to classroom changed, as did the places where pedestrians cross streets. These changes initiated Hutchins and Mitch Robinson, APSU vice president for Finance and Administration, to find ways to help increase driver awareness of high traffic areas for pedestrians.

“The units are self-contained, solar-charged battery units that last 3-5 years per battery. Since they are self-contained, digging and connecting underground electrical isn’t needed, and that saves a significant amount of added labor and expense, as well a planning.”

The new crosswalks have been added on Marion Street and Eighth Street. Cost for each crossing is approximately $10,000 for the system and construction. The crossings are Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and feature a simple touch-sensitive button for users to activate prior to crossing.

 



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