Friday, August 21, 2015

Most crosswalks are lipstick on a pig

Strong Towns has a good post detailing the inability of crosswalks to ensure safe and pleasant pedestrian environment in the context of a street design that heavily preferences cars:
The problem is that unlike a stop sign, at which drivers must always halt their vehicle, a crosswalk is viewed by many drivers as optional or only relevant in some cases i.e. when a pedestrian is present. A driver traveling at 35 or 40 miles an hour along a stroad might see that yellow diamond out of the corner of her eye but it’s unlikely that she’ll also be able to 1) notice whether or not a person is standing near the sign and, if so, 2) slow down in time to come to a complete halt in order for the pedestrian to cross. 
The vast majority of stroads in Atlanta suffer from this problem. Most are littered with bright-yellow signs and painted crosswalks, yet more often than not fearful pedestrians will wait until fast-moving cars pass before hazarding to cross. When motorists do stop and correctly yield the right-of-way, no guarantee exists that cars racing in parallel lanes (which are now more deadly due to the visibility barrier caused by the original yielding motorist) will also stop. The mindless application of crosswalk paint and expensive yellow signs is a waste of resources that contributes nothing to the vitality and walkability of Atlanta's urban environment.

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