Zebra Spotting at Fifth and Spring

The Manchester and Sepulveda Zebra Crosswalk in 2009. Photo: Kent Strumpell. To see the new one at Fifth and Spring in DTLA, visit ##http://brighamyen.com/2012/12/13/new-zebra-crosswalks-added-to-5th-and-spring-in-downtown-los-angeles/##Downtown Rising##

If you live, work, shop or play Downtown, you may have already seen it.  Brand new “zebra crosswalks,” known in the planning world as “continental crosswalks,” have been installed at the intersection of 5th and Spring, creating a safer and more visible crossing at one of L.A.’s busiest intersections. This is the first zebra installed since December of 2009, when LADOT initiated a “pilot program” at the intersection of Manchester and Sepulveda on the Westside.

A continental crosswalk is better described by its unofficial “zebra” moniker  Instead of straight lines connecting corners of an intersection, this design has a row of stripes spanning the area between the sidewalks, almost as though one was climbing a ladder and crossing the street. The Federal Highway Administration recommends using this design at intersections because, “Use of the continental design for crosswalk markings also improves crosswalk detection for people with low vision and cognitive impairments. It is recommended that the continental design be used consistently to mark all crosswalks; otherwise the impact of less visible markings may be weakened by comparison.”

For years, LADOT resisted the zebra design in party because they are more expensive to paint and maintain. However, following the aforementioned pilot program at Manchester and Sepulveda, resistance has all but vanished. In fact, the department is hinting that there is more zebra news coming soon.

The change of heart over zebras is the most recent positive development from a department that recently removed crosswalks at non-signalized intersections because they gave pedestrians a false sense of security, showed talent for increasing speed limits but not crosswalk installation or even, accidentally, once banned pedestrians from certain crossings.

Brigham Yen broke the story of the new crosswalk at Downtown Rising, including a picture of the crossing, a map of the location and zebras in other parts of the world.

  • guest

    5th and Spring, actually

  • Brigham’s shows 5th and Spring… are there new crosswalks at 5th and Flower also???

  • Yolo Watefah

    Anyone else remember the woman run over by a bus at 5th and Flower a few years ago by an LADOT bus?

    I like the idea – but with ATSAC signal controls and the number of traffic cameras and the piles of data LADOT has, you’d think their response to pedestrian safety calls would have been more robust.
    Oh wait, I forgot! The LA Administrative Code that gives LADOT sole planning authority over our roads is actually a dog whistle for transportation engineers who intentionally want to drive business and people out of our most economically productive real estate to benefit sprawl based development that can’t even pay for itself.Here! Have a crosswalk!

  • Steve Herbert

    While in Charlotte, NC for the DNC I spotted these across from the NASCAR hall of fame.


  • Austin Brown

    We got one of these crosswalks in the Mar Vista area earlier this year too, at Venice and Beethoven. I love it.

  • The biggest advantage to this installation is that the stop bar is well before, not right at, the crosswalk.

  • An earlier version of this post said the intersection was 5th and Flower. It’s 5th and Spring. I am properly embarrassed. I’ll have to check out Venice and Beethoven at the other end of Mar Vista. Thanks for the tip.

  • Eric B

    Venice and Beethoven is a ladder rather than a zebra, which does not read as clearly to the drivers.  The best part about the zebras are that they by design are set apart from the stop bar, giving just a little more space between the pedestrians and encroaching motorists.

  • Leon

    Zebra crossings, what a novel concept!  Another famous zebra crossing:

  • John

     I don’t know if I’m the only one to notice, but those streets next to something that seems so auto-oriented as the NASCAR Hall of Fame look pretty narrow.  I can only imagine what LA would be like with narrower streets…


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