Eyes on the Street: DPW Installs Flashing Beacon Signals at 30th and Downing RTD Station, More to Come

The rapid flashing beacon at 30th and Downing. Photo: David Sachs
The rapid flashing beacon at 30th and Downing. Photo: David Sachs

Denver Public Works installed the city’s first “rapid flashing beacons” — traffic signals intended to get drivers to yield to people crossing the street — at Downing Street at 30th Avenue last month.

Here’s how it works: The pedestrian presses a button, which immediately activates lights that flash intensely on both corners of the crosswalk. The lights are under bright yellow signs showing the pedestrian symbol with an arrow directing drivers to look at the crosswalk, for good measure.

“With its rapid flashing lights, the rectangular rapid flashing beacon enhances safety by increasing driver awareness of pedestrians crossing the street and has been shown to increase the rate at which drivers yield to pedestrians in crosswalks,” a DPW spokesperson told Streetsblog in an email.

If you’ve ever been to Boulder, you’ve seen this things all over the place. But this is new for Denver. Six intersections (including 30th and Downing) will have this treatment by the end of the end of the year. Crews just installed other beacons at Central Park Boulevard and Xanthia Way. Next up: 51st and LowellJosephine Street at the Denver Botanic GardensHolly and Cedar, and 26th and Newton.

Improving crosswalks everywhere makes sense, but particularly around RTD stations, where Denver’s dangerous, car-centric streets are a threat to large numbers of people walking. DPW chose these locations with the help of the department’s pedestrian crossing guidelines, released last year. The guidelines consider things like pedestrian volumes, driving speeds, and road width.

City workers installed the beacons under the banner of the Vision Zero initiative to end traffic deaths and serious injuries.