Evaluation of the Cross Alert system on the Virginia Capital Trail in James City County

Report No: 08-R23

Published in 2008

About the report:

The Virginia Capital Trail is a bicycle and pedestrian trail that connects Virginia's past and present capitals of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Richmond along the scenic Route 5 highway corridor. The trail crosses Route 5, a two-lane roadway with a 55-mph speed limit, between Route 613 and the Chickahominy Riverfront Park in James City County. The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) installed a Cross Alert system by Cross Alert Systems, Inc., at the crossing to provide a warning to motorists of the presence of pedestrians and bicyclists. VDOT also installed a number of other safety enhancements on each approach to the crossing. Given the expense of the system, VDOT was concerned about its cost-effectiveness and asked the Virginia Transportation Research Council to conduct an evaluation of the existing crossing, including its effectiveness and the safety of bikers and pedestrians who use the crossing. The evaluation consisted of analyzing motorists and biker/pedestrian actions when the beacons of the Cross Alert system were flashing and not flashing. Key findings included the following: there is ample opportunity for bikers and pedestrians to cross Route 5 safely; the flashing yellow beacons increase motorist awareness of bikers and pedestrians at the crossing; according to respondents to a survey of trail users, the Cross Alert system improves safety and the flashing beacons contribute the most to safety; the Cross Alert system had operational problems concerning flashing of the beacons, biker actuation of the flashing beacons, and timing of the flashing beacons were erratic; when the Cross Alert system is activated, there is a potential for rear-end collisions when motorists yield to bikers or pedestrians approaching the crossing. The study recommends that VDOT immediately investigate the erratic nature of the system's operation at the Route 5 crossing and refrain from deploying the system until these problems are resolved. If these operational problems are resolved satisfactorily, VDOT should consider the deployment of a system similar to the Cross Alert system at other appropriate locations.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

E. D. Arnold

Last updated: November 24, 2023

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