Pedestrian/Bicyclist Warning Devices and Signs at CTA Rail-Highway Grade Crossings

Kedzie Av ImageThe number of pedestrian/bicyclist fatalities at highway-rail grade crossings have increased over the past 10 years. This is contrary to a decrease in the number of train–vehicle collisions at highway-rail grade crossings during that same time period. The focus of this research was on pedestrians and cyclists who utilize legally authorized Chicago Transit Authority highway-rail crossings with pedestrian access.  The study did not examine CTA standards, efforts and record on grade crossing safety.  It should be noted that the findings were not corroborated with observations of CTA safety policies and practices at rail grade crossings.

Principal Investigator(s):

Paul Metaxatos


Paul Metaxatos
P.S. Sriraj




The objective of this study was to contribute to the still limited research on pedestrian and cyclist safety at rail grade crossings by expanding the scope of a previous study (Metaxatos and Sriraj, 2013) to include rail grade crossings in metropolitan Chicago with rail operations by the Chicago Transit Authority. This study identified seven locations at CTA rail grade crossings as suitable to conduct paper/pen manual user surveys for pedestrian/cyclist activity; a total of 211 surveys were gathered.


The study was divided into three components:

  1. A literature review.
  2. Identification of seven locations used for survey locations.
  3. Survey of non-motorized users and analysis of pedestrian attitudes.

Expected Results or Products:

The research led to conclusions and recommendations that may have implications about the design and placement of signs and warning systems at CTA pedestrian-rail grade crossings, as well as provide education and enforcement initiatives. Among the findings and recommendations were:

  • Overall, female respondents in all age groups appear to be more safety conscious than male respondents when using a crossing.
  • Pedestrians older than 51 years of age noticed active signs at grade crossings more frequently than passive signs.
  • Safety improvements at pedestrian grade crossings should always consider the special needs of people with disabilities.
  • Governments need to expand Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) compliance on all warning signs and devices and develop methods to determine the effectiveness of warning signs and devices utilized.
  • Greater support is needed for educational campaigns that promote environmental awareness, especially among younger male users.


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Paul Metaxatos
Urban Transportation Center
University of Illinois at Chicago
412 South Peoria Street, Suite 340
Chicago, IL 60607
Voice: (312) 996.4713
Fax: (312) 413-0006


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