Re-Examining the Safety of Colorful Crosswalks

There has been no shortage of responses to the story about St. Louis letting decorated sidewalks fade away after encountering federal policy that recommends more subdued colors.
February 13, 2016, 11am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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City of West Hollywoood

Following news reported last weekend by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the city would let examples of decorated crosswalks fade away after determining they ran afoul of Federal Highway Administration policies, advocates and planners from around the country have spoken out.

First, Angie Schmitt responded with a pointed response to St. Louis, arguing that perhaps St. Louis Bike and Pedestrian Coordinator Jamie Wilson was being too stringent with his interpretation of the federal policy. Schmitt calls on an expert to show another way of responding to the policy:

Conor Semler, a planning consultant with the Boston-based firm Kittelson & Associates, said most cities he works with have interpreted the FHWA memo much differently. Cities like Baltimore — famous for its eye-catching zipper crosswalk — and Seattle have basically determined 'as long as the white transverse lines are clear, you can do almost anything inside that,' he said.

Speaking of Seattle, the Capitol Hill Times mobilized its staff in the wake of the story to follow up with Seattle Department of Transportation City Traffic Engineer Dongho Chang about the safety outcomes of the 11 rainbow crosswalks added to the neighborhood of Capitol Hill in the summer of 2015. According to the article, the crosswalks, "have not caused concerns from the city’s transportation department, clearing six months of review without a single pedestrian-involved collision."

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Published on Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Streetsblog USA
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