- Boston suburb Medford, MA has installed a "3D" crosswalk to increase elementary school children's safety.
- The crosswalk was painted near an elementary school's pick-up zone in a way to make it look 3D, or like it's floating. The idea is to create an optical illusion that prompts drivers to slow down.
- Two students proposed the idea to the city because they were concerned about vehicles speeding and endangering safety near their school. 3D crosswalks will be painted at the city's other three elementary schools.
Cities often use creative crosswalks to engage citizens, as they can liven streets and represent a city's history or culture. City staff also note creative crosswalks' safety effect because vehicles often slow when drivers see the images on the ground ahead of them.
In some instances, creative crosswalks primarily serve as a traffic calming function instead of an aesthetic one. That's exactly what Medford intended with its 3D crosswalk. A similar floating crosswalk was installed in London earlier this year.
While vehicles are legally required to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, drivers don't always comply. Some drivers fall into complacency and become oblivious to signals they encounter daily. 3D crosswalks are a tool to assist cities with their Vision Zero goals by bringing drivers back to attention and watching out for pedestrians. Some drivers don't like the crosswalks because they believe they're going to hit something in the road and become startled, but pedestrian safety advocates say that's the intended effect.
The tactic could be especially useful near schools, where data show complacency even leads drivers to ignore school zone signs or flashing lights.