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Pedestrian Safety

Is LADOT Finally Embracing Zebra Crosswalks?

12_21_09_zebra.jpgA new Zebra Crosswalk at Manchester and Sepulveda in West Los Angeles.  Photo: Kent Strumpell

One of the first conversations I had about transportation reform after moving to Los Angeles was about how the City of Los Angeles absolutely will not install "Zebra Crosswalks" because they weren't certified in city design guides.  I found this confusing, because studies have shown that the series of vertical lines that create a Zebra Crosswalk are more safe for pedestrians and drivers than the "box" crosswalks used at most crossings throughout Los Angeles.  In short, cars are more likely to respect a Zebra Crosswalk than a traditional one.

However, the aversion to these types of crosswalks seems to be eroding.  Just a couple of blocks from where I live and work a Zebra Crosswalk appeared at the corner of Beverly Boulevard and Fuller Ave in front of the Baiis Yakov School for Girls and another is proposed for the Central Region MacArthur Park Elementary School.  Earlier this month, Kent Strumpell, better known on this blog for his bike advocacy, reports that another one has been painted at the corner of Manchester and Sepulveda in West Los Angeles.  Strumpell reports that the crossing is part of a pilot project and that the early returns are good.

I observed the new crosswalks for about 15 minutes last week duringevening rush hour and it seems as though they make a big difference indriver behavior: most cars stop clear of them, giving pedestriansplenty of room (a major advantage of zebra crosswalks is that, unlikeconventional crosswalks, their distinctive "floating" stripes areeasily differentiated from the separate "stop bar" that shows motoristswhere to stop).  This is especially welcome at this intersection, thebusiest transit stop in our community, with lots of folks hurrying tocatch connecting buses.

If you see a Zebra Crosswalk appear in your neighborhood, drop me a line so we can chart the pilot project on our own.  In the meantime, these better, safer, facilities for pedestrians are a welcome sight on L.A.'s streets.

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