Safety Tools

Pedestrian Safety Solutions: How do they work?

The goal of the WalkFirst Investment Strategy is to reduce serious or fatal pedestrian injuries by 25 percent by 2016 and by 50 percent by 2021. To meet these goals, the City will be investing $17 million over the next five years. In this section, you will find descriptions and examples for 15 different engineering, education, and enforcement countermeasures that are used to improve pedestrian safety and which are most appropriate for use with the unique conditions and streets of San Francisco.

When you click on each pedestrian safety countermeasure, you will find a description of what the measure does, how it works on a street, its known benefits and the potential tradeoffs that may result if the measure is implemented. In addition, each countermeasure is rated by three factors – cost, implementation timeframe and effectiveness to help provide a better understanding of the costs and benefits for each measure.

  • Corner Bulbs and Chokers
  • Pedestrian Refuge Islands
  • Speed Tables & Raised Crosswalks
  • Traffic Circles, Roundabouts & Chicanes
  • Speed Humps
  • Flashing Beacons (RRFB's & HAWKs)
  • Pedestrian Countdown Signals
  • Turn Prohibitions
  • Protected Left Turns
  • Leading Pedestrian Intervals
  • Radar Speed Display Sign / Portable Speed Trailer
  • Automated Speed Enforcement
  • Advance Stop or Yield Lines / Red Visibility Curbs
  • Road Diets
  • Roadway Safety Lighting
Flashing Beacons (RRFB's & HAWKs)
Flashing beacons are treatments designed to increase motorist yielding to people walking in crosswalks at key locations. Standard beacons flash continuously. Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) are solar-powered lights at the side of a roadway that flash when activated by a person walking. Hybrid beacons (HAWKs) are overhead lights that pedestrians activate prior to entering a crosswalk; they provide a yellow, then double red signal to motorists while the person walks across the street.
  • Increases visibility of pedestrians and crossings.
  • Can alert drivers to unsignalized intersections or crosswalks that may be unexpected or difficult to see.
  • Can be used where traffic or physical conditions do not justify a full signal but crash rates indicate the possibility of a special need, or to provide supplementary warning of a midblock or uncontrolled school crosswalk. 
  • Overuse may reduce effectiveness.
  • Drivers may be unfamiliar with newer beacons such as HAWKs.