Crosswalks: A Matter of Culture?

Or, what I did on my vacation.

As a neighborhood activist, I have frequently heard the question, “why don’t we stripe more crosswalks?”

The stock-in-trade answer of the traffic engineers in Portland is that drivers are not sufficiently aware of crosswalks and they give pedestrians a false sense of security. This has always struck me as something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we act like they don’t mean anything, they won’t!

So while vacationing on Cape Cod last week, I couldn’t help but notice that they appear to take their crosswalks a lot more seriously. They are often distinctively marked (or even use different materials) and are accompanied by very visible signage reminding drivers of the state law requiring cars to yield at crosswalks.

Does it work? I saw lots of instances where cars stopped as soon as someone put a foot in the crosswalk, something I don’t see that often here in Portland.

So I had my family scratching their heads and humoring me while I took the photos below.

Maybe we can discuss this approach at the upcoming Pedestrian Summit II!

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