Street and Intersection Pedestrian Safety Study

Three new City Code amendments for a more Walkable city in 2020

Expanded Rules for Crosswalks - "the 3 foot rule"
In Missouri and across most of the United States, laws say that drivers have to yield to a pedestrian who is *in* the crosswalk. So, that does not include someone waiting on the sidewalk, next to the crosswalk. However, Springfield City Council believes it is safer for a pedestrian to wait for stopping cars from the safety of the sidewalk. Amended city code now requires for drivers to yield when a person is waiting within three feet of the crosswalk. Three feet from the edge of the street is close narrow enough to ensure a walker's intention to cross (a person just lingering at the corner would typically not stand that close to traffic), yet three feet is big enough of an area to accommodate someone in a wheelchair that wants to cross. 
A person on a bicycle can only expect drivers to yield at crosswalks only after the bike has come to stop within the three foot area.  

White Cane Law

Springfield City Code now includes language mirroring our state's "White Cane Law". Even though these special protections for Americans with disabilities apply state-wide, Springfield chose to replicate the language in our code to raise awareness and show our commitment to serving citizens of all abilities. The White Cane Law requires driver to yield to people with guide dog and/or cane - even outside crosswalks. This law does not encourage people with visual disabilities to cross streets randomly, but rather protects those who may have lost their orientation and are in a state of distress. 

Right-of-Way at driveways, alleys, etc

Springfield City Code was amended to emphasize that motorists have to yield to people walking or biking on the sidewalk and crossing driveways or alleys. Even if there is not a crosswalk, a motorists has to yield to people walking or biking across driveways or alleys. 

Street and Intersection Pedestrian Safety Study (2017)

Over the past year, five pedestrians have been killed on Springfield streets. It’s a number that City staff and City Council would like to reduce to zero. At the request of City Council, the City of Springfield has concluded a study examining pedestrian safety on Springfield streets and intersections in particular, to better understand what can be done to address the issue.

With the number of pedestrian involved crashes and fatalities continuing to grow on Springfield streets over the past decade, the City is seeking ways to curb the trend. The start of the study came in conjunction with the 2017 launch of the SGF Yields campaign aimed to increase education and awareness of pedestrian safety.

As a complement to SGF Yields, the City contracted with St. Louis traffic engineering and transportation planning firm CBB to investigate pedestrian safety issues in the City and provide recommendations.

The report conclusively demonstrates that arterial roadways with higher speeds, higher traffic volumes and narrow medians present a heightened potential for dangers for both pedestrians and motorists.

CBB recommendations urge special care be given to regulating pedestrian access in streets and intersections with speeds of 35 mph or greater, traffic volumes greater than 15,000 vehicles per day or median widths less than 6 feet.

According to traffic safety industry guidelines, the minimum protected median width is 6 feet. This length is based on the length of a motorized wheelchair or person pushing a stroller and provides protection from such concerns as vehicle overhang, ADA access and pedestrian trips and falls.

To facilitate safety for pedestrians and motorists alike. CBB recommendations state that pedestrians should only be allowed in the roadway when:

  • They remain in designated pedestrian areas where motorists reasonably expect them to be located (sidewalks and crosswalks)
  • There is temporary traffic control set up to warn drivers that pedestrians will be present (maintenance or special events)
  • Using particular roadways that sustain low traffic volumes and speeds and are designated as shared spaces for both motorists and pedestrians
  • They use temporary pedestrian refuge as part of the process of crossing a road
MPH infographic


Nationally, the percent of pedestrian fatalities has maintained an increasing trend from 11% to 15% of the total number of traffic related fatalities during the past 10 years. In 2015, there were 5,376 pedestrians killed in traffic crashes, a 9.5% increase from 2014.

In 2015, the Federal Highway Administration identified 16 focus states as having high numbers of pedestrian fatalities.  Missouri is one of them.

In the previous three years about 15.8% of Springfield fatal crashes involve a pedestrian. (National average in 2015 was 15%).

CBB cited Springfield as taking a strong leadership role in pedestrian safety compared to other cities our size.  Springfield follows national design standards and guidelines. It also has a School Crossing Protection Committee in place and a permit process for special events when pedestrians will be located outside typical pedestrian facilities.