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.
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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