Want Strangers to Trust Each Other? Paint Crosswalks in Rainbows
Charles Montgomery, author of Happy City and head of a consultancy with the same name, wanted to look into the way environments influence trust, isolation, and attitudes toward strangers. In researching these social topics, Montgomery led a study that involved a hundred participants, gauging their reactions to different locations in Vancouver. They were particularly struck by the response their subjects had to a corner with a rainbow crosswalk.
These crosswalks are a feature of Vancouver's Davie Village neighborhood. "[I]n 2012 the city’s road crews painted over the four standard zebra crosswalks at an intersection in the heart of the village with fat, bright, rainbow-colored bands. The move was so popular that they made the change permanent the following year and turned an adjoining side street into a rainbow-flecked public plaza," Montgomery writes for Quartz.
The study included a number of tests and questions: "We used games to test concentration and generosity. But people’s answers to standard survey questions told the most powerful story: They showed that the city’s tactical interventions made a huge difference to people’s feelings and attitudes," Montgomery reports.