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Walkable Towns And Cities Inject A Little Color Into The Landscape

Walkable Towns And Cities Inject A Little Color Into The Landscape

November 20, 2019

By Chris Gilson, CCM Communications Writer 

Walkable towns and cities might have seemed like a trend in the mid-aughts, but the idea has been around for quite some time as a response to suburban sprawl. Since towns and cities have started to make walkability a more permanent feature, city planning aspects like zoning took a front seat, but truly the most important thing is pedestrian safety. Cities have been putting in painted bike lanes and cross walks for years now, but recently the trend has been to say: why not have some fun with it?

In New Haven, the Safe Routes for All program got out paint buckets and started painting certain intersections with bright colors and polka dots. The idea is that the bright colors would make drivers more alert in certain sections that are heavily trafficked by pedestrians.

The Safe Routes For All took inspirations from locations across the country, including Jersey City, Miami, and New York according to a presentation stored on their website that was part of a workshop this past June. Locations were discussed for the painted areas with an emphasis on the community that needed them the most.

Walkability might as well be a synonym for community building, as proponents of the concept believe that seeing your neighbors out and about in a neighborhood helps foster a relationship and duty to the area that you live in. You take ownership of where you live and you support that community, so it’s no surprise that towns and cities are using colorful crosswalks to support minority communities.

Rainbow crosswalks back to top

In both Norwalk and Simsbury, the towns have installed rainbow crosswalks that are aimed at inclusivity for the LGBTQ community. The Rainbow Flag, designed by Gilbert Baker, has been a beacon for LGBTQ rights, so these towns have found its display a way of evoking the spirit of equality and acceptance.

Simsbury had put up the colorful crosswalk as part of the Gay Pride month celebrations that take place in June. This crosswalk wasn’t permanent, but a temporary way to express inclusion until the town has a more permanent tribute in place. Norwalk’s are permanent, what they call the “first permanent artistic crosswalk” in Connecticut.

Crosswalks like these have the federal government asking if it’s really helpful, but a full-fledged study hasn’t been done yet. There has only been observations by locals who feel like these crosswalks are important. 

From StreetsBlog, a Kentucky resident claimed that one artistic crosswalk reduced accidents from 10 to 0, while in Rochester, New York, a longtime resident claimed that people slowed down around a rainbow colored cross walk because it stood out. And in Medford, Massachusetts, they’ve taken standing out to the next level with a 3D crosswalk that looks like it’s floating over the street.

The best walkable towns and cities have a lot of people walking in them. These pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable people and need to be protected. Crosswalks and walk signals are obviously an integral part of this equation, but places like New Haven, Norwalk, and Simsbury are saying, why not have fun with it?