Rails-Next-to-Trails: A Methodology for Selecting Appropriate Safety Treatments at Complex Multimodal Intersections

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

place - north america, mode - bike, mode - bus, mode - car, mode - pedestrian, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, infrastructure - track, planning - methods, planning - safety/accidents


multimodal intersections, railroad crossings, safety


There are more than 212,000 at-grade railroad crossings in the United States. Several feature paths running adjacent to the railroad tracks, and crossing a highway; they serve urban areas, recreational activities, light rail station access, and a variety of other purposes. Some of these crossings see a disproportionate number of violations and conflicts between rail, vehicles, and pedestrians and bikes. This research focuses on developing a methodology for appropriately addressing the question of treatments in these complex, multimodal intersections. The methodology is designed to be able to balance a predetermined, prescriptive approach with the professional judgment of the agency carrying out the investigation. Using knowledge and data from the literature, field studies, and video observations, a framework for selecting treatments based on primary issues at a given location is developed. Using such a framework allows the agency to streamline their crossing improvement efforts; to easily communicate and inform the public of the decisions made and their reasons for doing so; to secure stakeholder buy-in prior to starting a project or investigation; to make sure that approach and selected treatments are more standardized; and to ensure transparency in the organization to make at-grade crossings safer for pedestrians and bicyclists, without negatively impacting trains or vehicles.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by SAGE, copyright remains with them.