How Tactical Urbanism Succeeds Where Bureaucracy Fails

Making the case for do-it-yourself infrastructure.

1 minute read

December 5, 2022, 11:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Machine spraying white crosswalk lines on street

arturnichiporenko / Crosswalk installation

Writing in Bloomberg CityLab, David Zipper makes the case for ‘guerilla crosswalks,’ crosswalks painted by citizens without the authorization of local officials. To be clear, these crosswalks most often appear in places where pedestrians already have a legal right to cross, such as unmarked intersections.

Most recently, the Seattle Department of Transportation removed a citizen-installed crosswalk, saying that “Improperly painted crosswalks give a false sense of safety which puts pedestrians in danger.” Critics say this betrays the agency’s hypocrisy: “When motivated, transportation agencies can quickly alter streetscapes. But they often seem to show more urgency removing citizen-built crosswalks than they do installing official ones.” In some cases, cities have even fined groups that install guerilla crosswalks, such as the Los Angeles-based Crosswalk Collective.

Outlining the rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States and the causes for it, including poor pedestrian infrastructure, Zipper focuses in on the “absurd timelines,” as one San Francisco resident called them, for installing safety improvements in most U.S. cities.

Providing more examples of citizen-installed crosswalks, Zipper concludes, “Indeed, the sky is unlikely to fall if city agencies are a bit more open-minded about citizen-installed infrastructure.”

Thursday, December 1, 2022 in Bloomberg CityLab

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