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Seattle Will Let Neighborhoods Design Their Own Crosswalks

12:18 PM PDT on September 15, 2015

A crosswalk with a pan-African theme near Seattle's Powell Barnett Park. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog
A crosswalk with the colors of the Pan-African flag near Seattle's Powell Barnett Park. Photo: Seattle Bike Blog
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Here's a great idea from Seattle that can help serve as a reminder that streets are community spaces -- not just avenues to speed through on the way from one place to another. The city has adopted a new program that allows neighborhoods to design their own crosswalks.

Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog reports the program was inspired by a group of neighbors who painted a crosswalk in their neighborhood red, black, and green -- the colors of the Pan-African flag -- as a response to gentrification pressures. He says:

Today, SDOT announced a new program to allow neighborhoods to officially implement custom crosswalks. It’s certainly a longer process than buying some paint and doing it yourself, but it will also last longer and the city will make sure it meets safety standards.

Of course, the crosswalk painters were not making a statement about the need for a community crosswalk program at SDOT/Department of Neighborhoods. In the words of the United Hood Movement: “We didn’t get $100,000 to do it. We just knew it would give people a sense ownership back to our community since gentrification has changed it so rapidly, and dramatically it’s hard to recognize the place we call... Home.”

But it is a cool side-effect of the action that now communities have this new option for creating public art or identity markings right in the middle of their streets. It will take some fundraising or winning a Neighborhood Matching Fund grant, but that’s a small price to pay for a community-building addition like this. Because the streets belong to everyone, and this is just one more way to say so.

Elsewhere on the Network today: City Notes compares zoning in America with other countries. And Strong Towns says the Missouri Department of Transportation's response to its budget problem goes to show how out of touch it is with the needs and desires of citizens.

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