MIDWEST STATES POOLED FUND PROGRAM
Crashworthy Pedestrian Rail
Sponsoring Agency Code
TPF-5(193) Supplement 41
Situations arise on the roadside where a barrier or rail is required to prevent pedestrians from crossing
into a certain area which may be acceptable for an errant vehicle. Two examples of such areas would be
(1) a sidewalk over a short culvert (less than 8 ft tall) where a hand rail may be necessary to prevent
pedestrians from falling, but is not feasible to install a crashworthy barrier over the culvert, as shown in
Figure 1, and (2) a median fence used to deter jaywalkers from crossing busy streets away from
crosswalk locations, as shown in Figure 2. Although these rails would not need to redirect or stop an
errant vehicle, they must also not present additional hazards to the motoring public. These rails/fences
should not cause excessive decelerations, vehicle snag points, vehicle instabilities, or produce fragments
that may cause harm to other motorists when impacted. In addition, pedestrian rail systems must comply
with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Therefore, a need may exist for a crashworthy pedestrian
rail to protect pedestrians and prevent improper street crossings.
Currently, no permanent pedestrian-only rails have been crash tested and accepted for use on the
roadside. There are many traffic delineating barricades designed for the temporary use of routing or
separating vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Pedestrian rails attached to the top of concrete barriers have
been designed and successfully crash tested, as shown in Figure 3. However, the concrete barriers are
more expensive than a pedestrian rail as they are designed to redirect errant vehicles. A crashworthy,
permanent pedestrian rail has never been designed and crash tested.
The objective of this research effort is development of a pedestrian rail to be ADA compliant and
crashworthy. The research is planned in two phases. The objectives of the Phase I will be to identify the
highest priority, crashworthy pedestrian rail need and to develop viable design concepts to meet that
need. The objectives of Phase II of the project would be to finalize development of the crashworthy
pedestrian rail system and to perform the necessary MASH compliance tests for the system.
Phase I of the research effort will begin with a survey of the Pooled Fund member states, primarily
focused on input from Wisconsin. The survey will identify the most common locations and circumstances
in which a crashworthy pedestrian rail would be warranted. The results of the state survey would be used
to identify the most common, highest priority, crashworthy pedestrian rail need. Next, the researchers
would brainstorm design concepts for the highest priority need. The design concepts would be
documented and subjected to an engineering review and analysis to select the design concepts with the
most promise. A series of dynamic component tests will be conducted on critical components of the most
promising designs in order to demonstrate feasibility. The results of Phase I will be documented in a
summary report with recommendations for further development of the crashworthy pedestrian rail system.
Phase II of the research effort would consist of conducting full-scale compliance testing of the
crashworthy pedestrian rail system according to MASH. It should be noted that if the final design details
of the system are not realized as part of Phase I, then the final design of the system, which is not
budgeted for herein, would be completed as part of Phase II. MASH does not specify crash tests for
pedestrian rails. However, the desired characteristics of the pedestrian rail are very similar to those
defined in MASH for channelizers. The MASH criteria for channelizers states that, while the vehicle can
penetrate the barrier, detached elements, fragments, or other debris from the test article should not
penetrate or show potential for penetrating the occupant compartment, or present undue hazard to other
traffic or pedestrians. In addition, MASH requires that the vehicle must remain upright during and after
impact with the channelizer, and vehicle decelerations should not lead to violations of OIV and ORA limits
for longitudinal barriers. Because these types of pedestrian rail systems are not used on high speed
facilities, it is anticipated that the test program would proceed under the Test Level 2 criteria. Therefore,
the full-scale crash tests will most likely be conducted according to the channelizer criteria, test nos. 2-90
and 2-91. The results of Phase II will be documented in a summary report.
The results from this research will provide a cost effective, ADA compliant, crashworthy, pedestrian rail
that prevents foot traffic from crossing but does not pose as a hazard to errant vehicles.
Snapshot of Recent Developments
130 Whittier Research Center
2200 Vine Street
Lincoln, Nebraska 68583-0853
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