A refuge island, also known as a pedestrian refuge, pedestrian island and colloquially as a "pork chop" island, is a small section of pavement or sidewalk, completely surrounded by asphalt or other road materials, where pedestrians can stop before finishing crossing a road. It is typically used when a street is very wide, as the pedestrian crossing can be too long for some individuals to cross in one traffic light cycle, they can often been seen on roads with higher speed limits also.
It is also often used when no light exists, and pedestrians need safe harbour after managing one direction of traffic, before taking on the next. This significantly improves the amenity for pedestrians trying to cross busy streets, as they are much more likely to find two small gaps in traffic rather than one situation in which gaps for both directions coincide. Since this reduces their average waiting time, it also improves safety - with impatient pedestrians less likely to use gaps that turn out to be too short for safe crossing.
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- Pedestrian planning and design guide - Land Transport New Zealand, 2007, Page 6-16
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