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Walks and Bikes News Briefs

MUTCD Updates for Bicyclists and Pedestrians


The latest edition of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) includes some exciting new revisions and devices for both pedestrians and bicyclists. The 2009 edition took effect Jan. 15, 2010.


Notable changes to better accommodate pedestrians include:

  • Reduction of the walking speed used to calculate the pedestrian clearance time at signalized intersections from 4 feet/second to 3.5 feet. This reduction in walking speed should help persons who walk more slowly to clear intersections before the signal changes to ‘red’ or ‘Don’t Walk’ (Section 4E.06)
  • Introduction of the Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon (sometimes referred to as the HAWK signal.)  This special pedestrian-activated signal incorporates traditional traffic and pedestrian signal heads to assist pedestrians in crossing a street or highway at a marked crosswalk in an unsignalized location. (Chapter 4F). The HAWK signal is similar to beacons used in front of firehouses and first aid squads that instruct motorists to stop and allow emergency vehicles quick access to the roadway (Chapter 4G)
  • New guidance for locating pedestrian pushbuttons (Section

    4E.08 and Figures 4E-3 & 4E-4)

  • More variations to the “Yield to Pedestrians” sign for states, such as New Jersey, that now require drivers to come to a full stop for pedestrians (Section 2B.11 & Figure 2B-2)
  • New pedestrian signs (Section 2B.50 – 52 & Figure 2B-26)
  • A requirement for audible devices to aid pedestrians with visual disabilities at light rail crossings (Section 8C.13 & Figures 8C-4, 5, 6)


For bicycles, updates to the MUTCD include:


  • The addition of a new shared lane pavement marking.  Commonly referred to as a “sharrow,” the marking has been standardized along with guidance on placement and spacing (Section 9C.07 & Figure 9C-9)
  • A “Bicyclists May Use Full Lane” sign along with application information. This sign was added to provide consistent sign design in locations where road users need to be informed that travel lanes are too narrow for bicyclists and motor vehicles to operate side by side (Section 9B.06 & Figure 9B-2, sign R4-11)
  • The elimination of a requirement to post bicycle lane signs when marked bicycle lanes are provided. Recommendations have been added regarding the placement of bicycle lane signs and plaques when they are used. These
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