The Austin Transportation Department continues to improve safety for pedestrians by installing leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) in downtown Austin. LPIs provide pedestrians five to seven seconds of dedicated time to begin crossing an intersection before drivers receive a green light. Every intersection within the area bordered by 15th Street, North Lamar Boulevard, West Cesar Chavez Street and Interstate 35 features a LPI for at least one pedestrian crossing.
“Leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) improve safety by giving pedestrians a head start when crossing at crosswalks,” Austin Transportation Department Director Robert Spillar said. “Giving pedestrians a head start makes them more visible to drivers and reinforces a pedestrian’s right of way. LPIs provide enhanced safety for our most vulnerable neighbors who may be slower in crossing an intersection.”
Austin Transportation staff selected downtown for the LPI expansion because a disproportionate share of driver-pedestrian collisions in Austin have occurred in this part of the city.
“Downtown makes up less than one percent of Austin’s road network, but more than 10 percent of crashes affecting pedestrians occur in this part of our city,” Arterial Management Division Manager Jen Duthie said. “We strongly believe more LPIs on the highest-risk traffic corridors will increase safety for everyone. We will regularly assess the LPIs’ performance and make adjustments as needed.”
Implementing LPIs in downtown Austin supports Vision Zero, the City’s goal to achieve zero traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Austin roadways.
“Austin’s peer Vision Zero cities, like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City have seen significant decreases in crashes between drivers and pedestrians since bolstering their use of LPIs,” Transportation Safety Officer Lewis Leff said. “Additionally, a Transportation Research Board study concluded LPIs can reduce the number of pedestrians hit by drivers by as much as 60 percent. With relatively small changes, the benefits can be overwhelmingly positive.”
The Austin Strategic Mobility Plan and the Austin Pedestrian Safety Action Plan also identified LPIs as an effective strategy for enhancing pedestrian safety and supporting the City’s goal of achieving a 50/50 mode share—where 50 percent of Austinities commute by walking, bicycling, taking transit, or using any transportation mode besides driving alone. Currently, 74 percent of Austinites commute by driving alone.
“Everyone is a pedestrian at some point on their journey, so it is important that we all understand how signals should be used,” Duthie said. “Persons traveling by foot should enter the crosswalk only when the walk signal appears. A flashing hand means any person already in a crosswalk should finish crossing soon, while others should wait for the next walk signal.”
Community members are encouraged to review Austin Transportation’s pedestrian safety guide to learn more about drivers’ and pedestrians’ responsibilities at intersections.
Austin Transportation is responsible for leading mobility and safety planning and development in collaboration with our Austin-area partners. The department’s most ambitious goals include our community’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic deaths and serious injuries on Austin streets, the achievement of a 50/50 commute method split by 2039 established in the Austin Strategic Mobility Plan, and actively seeking innovative solutions and piloting technology that can decrease the use of single-occupancy vehicles and improve safety through ATD’s Smart Mobility Office.