September 16, 2019
You may have seen them in your city or town, brightly colored crosswalks, perhaps with an artistic design. If they’ve caught your eye, well… that’s the point! Artistic crosswalks are a playful, cost-efficient, and low-maintenance tool to highlight marked pedestrian crossings. They attract attention, while creating a sense of community.
What Are Artistic Crosswalks?
Artistic crosswalks are exactly as the term implies, crosswalks that are not your run-of-the-mill white lines, but include color, patterns, and even textures. They can be designed to reflect the special character of a neighborhood, mark the gateway to a district, or create local identity and pride.
Pros and Cons of Artistic Crosswalks
In addition to promoting art and being fun, these crosswalks raise awareness of pedestrian safety. They are more noticeable to pedestrians and drivers, often having the side effect of slowing down traffic in the area. Some proponents also say artistic crosswalks offer public health benefits making roads more pedestrian-friendly. By creating more welcoming spaces, they encourage people to get out and walk or bike.
Critics offer caution, however, saying that the artwork can be distracting or confusing to motorists. In fact, federal guidelines for crosswalks are very specific, with exact specifications for white line size and spacing, even the type of reflective paint to be used. Some cities have removed colorful crosswalks after the Federal Highway Administration deemed them distracting to drivers.
Norwalk, CT and Artistic Crosswalks
The City of Norwalk has a relatively new artistic crosswalk program developed by the Transportation, Mobility and Parking Department with stated guidelines. The city recently approved one at West Avenue and Connecticut Avenue in front of Mathews Park that will be painted in rainbow colors. The idea was proposed by the Triangle Community Center. The crosswalk not only represents the LGBTQ community but also Norwalk’s diversity and inclusivity as it is located across from Heritage Wall which celebrates Norwalk’s diversity, representing the gateway to Norwalk.
Norwalk’s Artistic Crosswalk program ties into the efforts of the Citywide Plan by creating neighborhood identity and placemaking as part of the investment into economic and community development. This installation was a true community collaboration, bringing together the City, The Triangle Community Center, the Norwalk Green Association, the Norwalk Bike Walk Commission, the Norwalk Historical Commission and the Norwalk Historical Society.
If you or your organization would like to propose one for Norwalk, Click Here for more information.