A “Glowing Crosswalk” is a traffic-calming mechanism that creates a path of light across an intersection in order to improve the visibility of pedestrians to oncoming traffic as they cross through the path. I created and exhibited a prototype of this urban design concept for the San Francisco Urban Prototyping Festival in October, 2012. This Instructable describes how to make such a prototype. Please note that this prototype was designed and built for a temporary installation only. Some modifications will be necessary to create a more permanent installation (not to mention various city permits and other legal approval).

This Glowing Crosswalk prototype consists of four, free-standing “light poles” that are to be placed in pairs on the sidewalk on either side of an intersection. Each light pole features three high-powered LED lights and a “push-to-cross” button switch. When a pedestrian approaches the intersection and pushes the switch on any of the poles, a radio frequency signal is sent to the other three poles and they all run an identical program in unison. The program cycles the lights through an “on”, “blinking” and “off” phase (similar to existing crosswalk light sequences). The following steps will describe the process for making one of these light poles.

The effect of the Glowing Crosswalk is a temporary field of light that not only illuminates the crossing path but, most importantly, illuminates anyone moving through the crossing path as the light reflects off their body, making the pedestrian more visible to oncoming traffic.

Step 1: Step 1: Bill of Materials

When I created this project for the Urban Prototyping Festival I was operating under a number of constraints, most significantly money and time. I had only a few weeks to pull this whole project together, working during weeknight evenings and weekends so I tried to use as few custom components as possible. As for the budget, the whole project was supposed to be able to be prototyped for under $1000.00 (I ended up exceeding it by about $50).

Here are the components I used to create all four "light poles" used to create the Glowing Crosswalk:

[12x]  Light bulb (Ultrafire Cree Xm-l T6 LED 1mode 1000 Lumens 3.7-18v) (from Amazon)
[12x] 18650 3000mah li-ion battery (from Amazon)
[4x] 18650 battery holder (from Digi-Key)
[4x] Umbrella stand (from Pottery Barn)
[4x] Arduino Uno (from Jameco)
[4x] Grove RF- Base Shield (from Epic Tinker)
[4x] Grove - 433MHz Simple RF Link Kit (including a transmitter and a receiver) (from Epic Tinker)
[8x] Grove - Universal 4 Pin 20cm Cable (to connect the transmitter/receiver to the Base Shield) (from Epic Tinker)
[4x] 4” Dia. x 47” Aluminum pipe (ordered cut-to-size from a 20' stock piece at Bayshore Metals)
[4x] 1-1/2” Dia. x 5’ PVC pipe (from any hardware store)
[1x] 1-1/4” Dia. x 2’ PVC pipe (from any hardware store)
[1x] 3” x 2’ ABS DWV Pipe (from any hardware store)
[1x] spool of 20ga galvanized steel strip (from any hardware store)
[1x] 4” Dia. x 12” Acrylic tube (from TAP Plastics)
[4x] 4” Dia. x 1/8” thick acrylic circle (or [1x] 12” x 12”, 1/8” thick acrylic sheet)(from TAP Plastics)
[1x] scrap plywood
[1x] Assorted package of rigid jumper wire (for breadboard)(from Radioshack)
[1x] Assorted spools of 18ga. solid hookup wire (from Radioshack)
[4x] 9V battery
[4x] Breadboard (from Jameco)
[4x] Button momentary switch (from Radioshack)
[4x] Heat sink, TO-220, 1 HOLE (from Jameco)
[4x] TIP 120 NPN Darlington Transistor (from Jameco or Radioshack)
[4x] 2.2K Ohm resistor (from Jameco or Radioshack)
[4x] 10K Ohm resistor (from Jameco or Radioshack)

I used a variety of tools, both hand-held and stationary. I try to specify a recommended means of manufacture though most of my build process could be performed using alternative approaches. I relied heavily on the local TechShop for most of the build. It was very helpful to have all the tools I needed in one location along with the space to spread out and work continuously.
What a great idea! Got my vote!
Considering the number of crosswalk incidents this seems an interesting idea. In my area there are lights embedded into the pavement. Difficult to steal or vandalize without a jack hammer. Will theft be a problem with these?
Fantastic - culture jamming at its best. <br> <br>My only comment would be to make sure that the lights on the other side of the street aren't in the walker's eyes blinding them while they are walking across a road :P
Color me highly impressed with this idea. I have linked to it from my blog
Great idea. I'd love to see them in use here.
We have a school nearby that uses this system - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=my63CfUVOps <br> <br>It's very effective too!
nice, i need that in my car, so i can see my path when i approach it at night.
This is extraordinary! The Transportation Research Board may be the place to present this. The Annual Meeting for 2013 just concluded but perhaps you could present this at the 2014 meeting. It is a great venue for ideas to be presented to a large audience of decision makers from all over the country. Best of luck!!
This is very good, and in some locations, ideal.<br> <br> My main concern is that in heavily trafficked roads, the &quot;you must stop&quot; effect of the illuminated pedestrian, is lost by the pedestrian appearing to be illuminated by a car / cars parked in side streets, AND the lack of a red light / yellow flashing light - that is located OVER road and or up very high on the side of the street, so that traffic approaching the crossing, can actually see that there is a pedestrian crossing ahead.<br> <br> As it stands, to me it's only useful if there is lots of broken glass around and your crossing the street with bare feet.<br> <br> You need to differentiate between the person being merely illuminated target practice and designating the area as a &quot;pedestrian crossing.&quot;
This has been needed for a long time!...
This Is a great idea! Get it on kickstarter and see it take off! <br>If you need a small town to test on, maybe Tartu, Estonia would be interested. <br>I truly love the idea!!
Awesome! How would you go about pitching these to the city to allow testing for long term? I love these, and would love to try and get my city council to allow me to install them, and maybe even give me some funds to make them.
Great question, Cmcgann! I'm working on communications with the Urban Planning Department here in San Francisco. It seems that progress in the short term will involve subsequent iterations of the prototype (refined for longer, unsupervised exposure) that can be deployed temporarily as a means of communicating the benefits of such an urban design concept to the powers that be. I would very much love to see the Glowing Crosswalk become a reality!
I vote. <br>Are they synced with the red traffic light ?&hellip; They should !&hellip; <br>The only minus I find is this project is that it requires new learnings from the drivers as they should learn to see a crosswalk made of light !&hellip;
Brilliant :) <br>This is an amazing idea. I love it.
Very futuristic! Awesome design!
i can't believe that this has not been used on a wider basis (or even thought of?) before. what an awesome idea that could improve the safety of all of our crosswalks.
Amazing, is there any video of the prototype ? It would be nice.
Crap..that is a smart idea! =O Love it...
wow .. awesome job.

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Bio: I am an industrial product designer based in San Francisco, CA. I love challenges and want to solve problems, large and small. I want to ... More »
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