Pedestrian Refuge Island

A Pedestrian Refuge Island, also known as a crossing island, center island, median refuge area, pedestrian island, or median slow point, is a raised island placed in the street at an intersection or midblock to separate crossing pedestrians from motor vehicles.

Recommended for Safety

According to the Federal Highway Administration [1],

providing raised medians or pedestrian refuge areas at pedestrian crossings at marked crosswalks has demonstrated a 46% reduction in pedestrian crashes. Installing such raised channelization on approaches to multi-lane intersections has been shown to be particularly effective. At unmarked crosswalk locations, medians have demonstrated a 39% reduction in pedestrian crashes. Medians are especially important in areas where pedestrians access a transit stop or other clear origin/destinations across from each other. Midblock locations account for over 70% of pedestrian fatalities. Also it is where vehicle travel speeds are higher which contributes to the injury and fatality rate at this location. Over 80% of pedestrians die when hit by vehicles traveling at 40 mph or faster while less than 20% die when hit at 20 mph.

The FHWA recommends raised medians (or pedestrian refuge areas) be considered in curbed sections of multi-lane urban roadways, particularly where pedestrians, high traffic volumes (exceeding 12,000 average daily trips per day), and intermediate or high travel speeds occur together. Medians/refuge islands should be at least 4 feet wide, but preferably 8 feet for pedestrian comfort and safety. They should also be of adequate length to allow the anticipated number of pedestrians to stand and wait for gaps in traffic before crossing the second half of the street.




Each source is referred to by the same number every time it is cited. Please keep citation style consistent.
[1] Safety Effects of Marked vs. Unmarked Crosswalks at Uncontrolled Locations, p. 55. Federal Highway Administration. 2002.


Pictures are cited in the order they appear above. Please keep citation style consistent.
[1] Pedestrian refuge island, Santa Cruz, CA. Photo by Dan Burden via Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center Image Library.
[2] Pedestrian refuge island with ped-activation button, CA. Photo by Dan Burden via Pedestrian Bicycle Information Center Image Library.



median, pedestrian safety, crossing island,