Bellevue Receives $1.4M Grant for Innovations to Enhance Pedestrian Safety


Key Takeaways:
– Bellevue, Wash., secures $1.43 million SMART grant from the U.S Department of Transportation
– The grant will fund the Real-Time Traffic Signal Safety Interventions (RTSSI) pilot project
– RTSSI aims to leverage smart technology to increase pedestrian safety at intersections
– The technology can identify, categorize road users and adjust traffic signals accordingly
– The grant is part of over $50 million awarded by the US DOT to 34 projects nationwide
– The trials will take place in Crossroads neighborhood and prioritizes the elderly and disabled

Bellevue’s Innovations Towards Safer Crossings

The City of Bellevue, Washington, has been awarded a substantial grant by the U.S Department of Transportation (USDOT). Securing $1.43 million, the city is poised to deploy smart technologies to enhance pedestrian safety at intersections.

Bellevue’s Traffic Signal Systems

Laura Milstead, a Bellevue Transportation Department public information officer, shed light on the current traffic system’s shortcomings. She explained how the traffic signals cater more to vehicles and lack the capability to adapt to pedestrians, cyclists, or wheelchair users crossing intersections.

Upcoming Smart Traffic Technologies

With the awarded USDOT grant, Bellevue aims to address these limitations through a project named Real-Time Traffic Signal Safety Interventions (RTSSI). The RTSSI project will employ smart sensors, video analytics, deep learning, and edge computing to identify potential roadway risks for vulnerable pedestrians and instantly modify traffic signals.

The novel technology can classify different road users and interact with the existing traffic signal system. The initiative will ensure that the technology can detect and acknowledge if a pedestrian has not completed crossing within the allotted time. The system will then alert the traffic signal controller to extend the crossing phase and withhold conflicting vehicle phases or traffic lights until the pedestrian has safely exited the crosswalk.

Broader Implications of the Grant

The SMART grant received by Bellevue forms part of a wider USDOT initiative. It’s part of over $50 million awarded to 34 technology demonstration initiatives across America under the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) program. Designed to drive innovation in transportation, the SMART program supports governments in leveraging advanced technologies for safer, efficient, and innovative transportation systems.

Ensuring Road Safety on a Local Level

Bellevue is acutely aware of pedestrian susceptibility to traffic incidents. The city reports that 53% of all pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries stem from drivers’ failure to yield. As a response to this, the RTSSI project forms a part of Bellevue’s Vision Zero initiative dedicated to eradicating traffic deaths and serious injury collisions on city streets by 2030.

The City of Bellevue will test the proposed technologies at intersections in the Crossroads neighborhood, a pedestrian-focused hub that encompasses schools, parks, and shops. Emphasis will be given to older adults and individuals with disabilities. Bellevue expects to initiate public engagement opportunities later this year, with technology testing slated to begin in the spring of 2025.

Alternatives like the ‘Project Green Light’ in the neighboring Seattle are embracing technology for road safety. In partnership with Google, Seattle’s Department of Transportation is using artificial intelligence and Google Maps driving trends to optimize traffic light plans, hoping to smooth traffic flow and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from idling vehicles.

Jonathan Browne
Jonathan Browne
Jonathan Browne is the CEO and Founder of Livy.AI

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