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Sunday, April 21, 2019
A mid-block crosswalk in Atlanta, Georgia.
2019ColumbusCommunitydevelopmentLocal NewsNewsOhioTrue Q Magazine

A Call For More Mid-Block Crosswalks In Central Ohio

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BY J.M. RAYBURN

Providing opportunities for pedestrians to cross at more places will increase safety and create more vibrant neighborhoods.

Mid-block crosswalks exist to create safe connections for those who want to cross a street in between roadway intersections. The installation of mid-block crosswalks helps prioritize pedestrians by giving them more locations to cross streets. Corner crosswalks are designed around vehicle traffic, while mid-block crosswalks better reflect how and where people want to use streets.

Mid-block crosswalks come in a variety of forms. The most basic form (and least amount of possible effort) is simply painting black-and-white stripes in the street. It’s a start, but we really can do so much better. Think flashing lights attached to poles to alert drivers to slow down as they approach the unorthodox crossing.

A sketch of a mid-block crosswalk; courtesy of the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO).

Imagine the street on both sides of the walkway being paved with rough granite blocks, another traffic-calming measure. Instead of doing the bare minimum of painting black-and-white stripes in the street, a city that really cares about pedestrians would install bricks treated with a glazed, reflective coating.

Most city and county budgets for such street improvements are limited, and justifying the investment of mid-block crosswalks in neighborhoods can be challenging. Still, they are needed at locations where crossing is dangerous or pedestrians have limited options. In response, supporters of mid-block crosswalks have turned to other funding sources.

In Philadelphia, for example, many of the mid-block crosswalks are privately-funded projects sponsored by nearby businesses. I would love to see more mid-block crosswalks installed throughout Columbus, particularly in commercial corridors like High Street and Parsons Avenue. Other opportune areas are historic districts and urban centers in the suburbs.

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