Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons in Bellevue

The project team (the "Fab Five") for the recently completed NE 8th St RRFB at Crossroads Park walks across the mid-block crosswalk.

The project team (the “Fab Five”) for the recently completed NE 8th St RRFB at Crossroads Park walks across the mid-block crosswalk.

As the city grows, so does our transportation technology toolbox.

In the past few years, the City of Bellevue Transportation Department has introduced new intelligent transportation systems such as flashing yellow arrows (FYA) and adaptive signal controls.

While those technologies focus primarily on the motorist, new rectangular rapid flashing beacons (RRFB) are providing pedestrians with increased visibility at crosswalks where there are not otherwise signals (e.g. mid-block crosswalk).

Not sure how to use crossing locations that use RRFBs? Check out this video:

RRFBs are slowly rolling out to select locations in Bellevue. RRFBs are signals that are push-button initiated by the pedestrian that activate rectangular LED flashing lights above the roadway informing motorists that pedestrians are in the crosswalk. Unlike at signalized intersections, pedestrians won’t receive a “Walk” phase. As a result, you should still proceed cautiously across the street when traveling across roadways with traffic approaching.

As a motorist, according to Washington state law you have a responsibility to watch for and allow pedestrians to cross the roadway, regardless of whether the pedestrian is at a marked or unmarked crosswalk at the intersection.

Why use this technology?

RRFBs, when compared to traffic signals, are a lower-cost alternative and have been found to increase motorist compliance compared to other technologies. Federal studies indicate that RRFB’s irregular flashing patterns create higher driver yield rates to pedestrians than other the treatments; the flashing pattern is similar to flashers on emergency vehicles. RRFBs increase attention to mandated signage for mid-block crosswalks. In that way, they are an “above-and-beyond” measure intended to increase visibility for pedestrians trying to traverse busy roadways.

While RRFB technology is relatively new to Bellevue, its use is becoming more commonplace with new locations being evaluated on a regular basis. However, much like the flashing yellow arrows, pedestrians and motorists will likely need some time getting accustomed to this new technology.

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