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In Crosswalks, Public Art Meets Transportation

Colorful, engaging crosswalks aren’t the norm, but they’re popping up around the country. And while they aren’t in line with federal guidelines, they have transformed streets and intersections.
July 23, 2019, 2pm PDT | Camille Fink
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Pedestrian Infrastructure

Brett Dahlberg reports on the creative crosswalks of Rochester, New York, including one near a music school that looks like piano keys. "Just off Main Street, in Rochester's Beechwood neighborhood, there's another colorful intersection. The sidewalks here are green, the crosswalks are blue, and there's a big, red and yellow sun that covers the whole street. The art has been here a little over a year."

Advocates say these interesting crosswalks bring benefits far beyond just adding an artistic element to public spaces. They also slow down traffic, make spaces safer and more inviting, and get people out of their cars. "[Rochester resident Joseph] Hutchings says the intersection art makes a big difference for families. He says there are more children outside playing and more adults walking places or riding bikes," notes Dahlberg.

But, he says, federal guidelines for crosswalks are specific about features like the transverse white lines, line spacing, and the type of reflective paint that needs to be used. Some cities have abandoned their colorful crosswalks after the Federal Highway Administration deemed them distracting to drivers.

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Published on Tuesday, July 16, 2019 in NPR
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