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Design

This City Is Allowing Neighborhoods to Design Their Own Crosswalks

by Aarian Marshall

September 16, 2015
via flickr user SounderBruce

Black and white is out, rainbow is in. Navy and green are in, too. (Go Seahawks!) Or red, white, and blue. It’s up to Seattlelites, really. Their city’s Department of Transportation announced this week that it will permit its community members to customize their neighborhood crosswalks. 

The city’s crosswalk painting trend really began earlier this year, when the Seattle DOT repainted crosswalks in the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood in honor of Pride Week. Then in August, community members in the Central District painted their crosswalks red, black, and green in honor of the African Heritage Festival and the Pan-African flag. As the Seattle Bike Blog reports, the city didn’t label the repainting an act of vandalism—it embraced the change. The DOT even added reflective strips, to make the crosswalk more visible at night.

The Pan-African crosswalk in the Central District. Via Facebook

Now crosswalk painting is a bona fide government program. The DOT has made funds available for the project, though neighborhoods will have to apply. The government will also have to approve the designs (no octogons, triangles, or logos allowed.)

“This is about celebrating and enhancing community identities,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. “I’m excited to see more history, culture, and community on display for residents and visitors to enjoy.”

Indeed, the crosswalk revamps are significant beyond simple aesthetics. Many communities see their design participation as truly meaningful—particularly those communities that have historically felt at odds with local government.

As the group responsible for the Pan-African crosswalk wrote on Facebook: “We just knew [the crosswalk] would give people a sense [of] ownership back to our community, since gentrification has changed it so rapidly and dramatically [that] it’s hard to recognize the place we call...Home.”

Via StreetsBlog Network

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This City Is Allowing Neighborhoods to Design Their Own Crosswalks