Decatur To Replace Crumbling Faux-Brick Crosswalks, Considering Painted Concrete

painted crosswalksAnother interesting mention from the end of last night’s Decatur City Commission meeting.

The City of Decatur is currently putting together a bid document to replace the many faux-brick crosswalks installed downtown five years ago, with new, more durable concrete ones.

This in and of itself is good news, since those crosswalks have not stood up well to the multitudes of cars passing over them everyday and have needed continuous repair and patching since they were first installed back in 2009.

But beyond just a more resilient replacement, Asst. City Manager David Junger also mentioned that the city is doing a “tandem art project” that would make the crosswalks more visible with “creative, colorful” designs.  Mr. Junger referenced a Fort Lauderdale crosswalk (see photo to the right) from the traffic calming work session presentation earlier in the evening.

55 thoughts on “Decatur To Replace Crumbling Faux-Brick Crosswalks, Considering Painted Concrete”


  1. Very cool! That explosion of color just might be enough to get drivers attention, or maybe even cause them to stop for pedestrians!

      1. You don’t get it Dawgfan – the blood stains of pedestrians become part of the composition! The crosswalk art is an exploration of the fleeting nature of life, and the permanent nature of death.

  2. love it! worth trying something very different, considering the present system is none too
    successful.

  3. Looks like sand art or one of those velvet paintings to me. But it truly is visible–whatever works.

    1. Unicorns on Ponce. Elvis on Sycamore. Awesome Bill from Dawsonville on the Commerce Drive Speedway, of course. Hey, the city could auction prominent intersections to the highest bidder – your face/company logo here!

  4. Just curious. what was the original cost of these crosswalks that so quickly deteriorated?

    1. Good question, and is the contractor who installed in going to pay to replace it, or do we eat this one? They pretty much started breaking as soon as they went in.

  5. maybe if it was just the crosswalk and not the whole intersection as shown… But still–it would have to be redone every couple of years with all the traffic. I’d rather they thought of a better way to make these crosswalks obvious to cars or just go back to the old traffic light crosswalk system but have it change more often. About 50% of the cars never stop.

  6. Many of the colorful crosswalks were art installments during Art Basel in Miami. Google “colorful crosswalks” to make your head spin.

    I’m happy to hear they’ll be replacing them as they’re ineffective and a trip hazard at this point. While I like the brick look and think colored concrete could be nice, it seems the most effective crosswalks are simply wide and use the traditional “zebra stripes.”

    Currently in early development, the Netherlands is working on glow in the dark road markings on a 500m stretch. Maybe we’ll see something like this in the future?

    www DOT engadget DOT com/2014/04/14/netherlands-glow-in-the-dark-road/

    Also, IBM built a flashing crosswalk based on a child’s idea:
    adsoftheworld DOT com/media/ambient/ibm_flashing_zebra_crossing

    And just for fun, a digitally-created, fake crosswalk game for pedestrians:
    mashable DOT com/2012/09/10/crosswalk-pong/

    1. Glow in the dark lines on the road. Duh. Seems kind of obvious. Not just for crosswalks but for all road markings. So why don’t we do this already? Fluorescent paint doesn’t hold up well? Too expensive? The fluorescence might set off some people’s seizure disorders or induce flashbacks? And overhead lighting of cross-walks also seems obvious.

      However, these options don’t address the fact that, even in broad daylight, so many drivers are on autopilot that they don’t notice crosswalks or the pedestrians in them. Plus some don’t care. Maybe full mandatory stops at crosswalks are the only solution.

      1. Re: epilepsy, the fluorescence would have to be very bright and flash very rapidly, a la a strobe effect, to cause a seizure. That’s my family experience.

        As for drivers stopping, wide zebra stripes are the most noticeable, but ultimately it’s the culture and how we want to live. Driving does reinforce today’s “you are special” culture in many ways, from car customization to “I can go where I want, when I want” [as long as there’s a road].

        Things won’t change until we choose to a) build an infrastructure that enables people to get around efficiently in other ways, whether walking, cycling, public transit, etc, b) encourage denser zoning that doesn’t separate commercial from residential [a la NYC, San Fran, Europe, Asia…] and c) make said housing ubiquitous enough that people who want to can afford to live IN cities rather than always looking to the outskirts for a “cheap” place. Part C can be further controlled by an urban development boundary, which discourages / prevents developers from pushing further out. Those things shift demand on their own, including parking demand and costs. Makes sense, right?

        But when you mention those ideas in this area, the opposition here usually falls into one of three categories: a) drivers [Leave my roads alone!], b) trees [Instead of density, we’re supposed to pretend we’re Ewoks or curse ourselves for existing. Somehow cities like Milan and Frankurt am Main have flourished for 2,000 years without covering every square inch with a tree], or c) you get called a political term that someone doesn’t actually understand.

    1. Agreed. If the goal is to make the intersection so aesthetically displeasing, it would discourage anyone from wanting to look at it, much less walk through it it, this color scheme could definitely do the trick.

      1. +1
        Sadly, this particular installation also serves to camouflage any smaller pedestrians wearing primary colors… like, I don’t know… children?

        In all seriousness, I appreciate the ambition that we try to establish a little beauty in something that serves a functional purpose. But if there is any chance that the beauty would actually impair the function or significantly add to the cost, it does not make sense.

        But i believe there are some examples of installations on Google that use the same paint as a traditional zebra crossing, but deploy it with some creativity.

  7. Seems to me this would make it easier to see the crosswalk, but more difficult to tell if a person was using the crosswalk.

  8. maybe a dumb question, but why do they need to put concrete walks in on top of the road? why not just remove the delaminating fake brick and paint the road the bright colors?

      1. The brick crosswalks were meant to serve as rumble strips. Real rumble strips would be useful for traffic calming near the Post Office. That stretch is more like Scott Boulevard every day.

        And while you’re at it, could you repaint the sharrows? And move the steel plate that splits/parallels the bike lane just past St. Thomas More? And patch the pothole coming out of STM’s driveway?

  9. I have a question about crosswalks. Is there any distinction between the line patterns? Some have lines that run long-ways the direction of the crosswalk, while others have the the series of shorter lines perpendicular to the direction of the crosswalk. In other countries, cars are supposed to always stop for the perpendicular pattern. But that doesn’t happen here. Is is supposed to?

    1. Cars here are only supposed to stop if (1) the vehicle in front of them stops, (2) a train is coming, (3) they think of something they forgot, or (4) they need to use the phone and it slipped under the seat.

    2. I’ve always been confused about that too since there are zebra crossings on the road at some traffic lights too (like down by the Marlay) Since there’s a traffic light, I would assume pedestrians have to wait for a crossing signal?

      1. Pedestrians are required to push the button at signalized crosswalks, but those signals don’t always work. But if a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk at an intersection (or really anywhere in the road where they aren’t darting into traffic), then cars are required to stop for the pedestrian.

        I don’t think the design of the markings on the crosswalks matter that much in terms of what pedestrians and motorists are each required to do.

          1. There are signs up at signalized crosswalks that say “Pedestrians Must Push Button”. I guess those are there for decoration.

            OCGA 40-6-91
            “The driver of a vehicle shall stop and remain stopped to allow a pedestrian to cross the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling, or when the pedestrian is approaching and is within one lane of the half of the roadway on which the vehicle is traveling or onto which it is turning. For the purposes of this subsection, “half of the roadway” means all traffic lanes carrying traffic in one direction of travel.”

            If you’re in the crosswalk, cars should stop. That’s why Atlanta and Decatur police were handing out warnings and tickets last year to cars that went through crosswalks even when pedestrians were nearly across the road.

            Pedestrians can cross a road without a crosswalk – and they do! – as long as they are taking care. Legally, they aren’t supposed to between two signalized intersections, but they do. So, as a practical measure, drivers should stop for pedestrians unless the pedestrian leaves them no choice.

            No sure why any of that is funny. Worrying about which way the strips go on the pavement is actually the funny part of the discussion here.

        1. “But if a pedestrian is in a marked crosswalk at an intersection (or really anywhere in the road where they aren’t darting into traffic), then cars are required to stop for the pedestrian.”

          Even at an intersection with a signal and the driver has a green light? Are you sure that’s the case?

          1. If they are halfway in the road and crossing in a crosswalk. Pedestrians have more of a burden to wait when there is no crosswalk. But, that’s legalities and semantics. I’d rather not have to worry about who was right or wrong after hitting a pedestrian. I’d rather let them cross.

        2. What about jaywalking? I thought that going into a crosswalk when the red hand was up, instead of the white walker, was jaywalking. Or is that only NYC and LA?

          1. They are supposed to obey the crosswalk signals if they are in place. But no pedestrian does that 100%. That’s why it’s more practical and courteous for cars to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks or waiting for the walk signal. But that’s my opinion and you can honk yours behind me if you like.

            The other day I stopped for kids that were waiting to cross Scott Boulevard to get to Venetian Pools where there was a crosswalk but no signals. I stopped and then all the other east/west traffic stopped so the kids could cross. It was the courteous thing to do. There was a Decatur Police car at the intersection waiting to turn right but he sped off once I held up traffic.

            There is no “jaywalking” in Georgia statutes related to pedestrians. Someone else has explained it more eloquently here before, but it’s just not a thing here.

            1. It may not be called “jaywalking,” but it exists:

              “Between adjacent intersections at which traffic-control signals are in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk. “- See more at: peds.org/issues/pedestrian_right_of_way/pedestrian_right_of_way/#sthash.al1Uu3Ab.dpufIt

              And surely you’re not saying that cars should stop on green at Commerce and Ponce so waiting pedestrians can cross against the signal?!

              1. Not necessarily. I mean, I’ve done it but not at 5:30 on a Friday. I’ve felt sympathy for someone carrying lots of things and waiting to cross.

                It was a busy afternoon on Scott Blvd when the kids were crossing. It looked like they’d been waiting patiently and at least they were waiting to cross at a crosswalk. And there was no light so I didn’t want them to take a chance and walk out hoping cars would stop. So I held up traffic and thankfully others did too.

                I guess my point is: If I’m driving down the road and someone walks out to cross it, I’m stopping for them without waiting to debate the merits of who has the right of way.

                And the “cross only in a marked crosswalk” is only a thing if they are crossing between two signalized intersections. There are plenty of places where pedestrians cross that are not between traffic lights and where there is no crosswalk. They’re still going to cross.

                1. This was very nice of you (to stop that is) but it reminds me of a very bad accident several years ago. Kids were waiting on the west side of Clairmont at the Erie crosswalk. The southbound curb lane car stopped. The kids proceeded to cross but the inside lane southbound car did not stop. One of the kids was hit. Point here is kids are trusting and will assume that every driver is as nice as you. I don’t know what the answer is, but if I am crossing Scott I want it to be clear in both directions – even if that means waiting a while.

                2. You will get someone killed doing that. Actually practicing the rules of the road is what keeps people alive. You should be able to expect drivers to do the right thing, not the “nice” thing. Drivers are not traffic cops and shouldn’t act like one. For a day and a half this week the yellow light on Dekalb Ave. was flashing at Rocky Ford. Some cars obeyed the law and proceeded with caution. Others did the “nice” thing and treated it as a four way stop practically forcing those on Rocky Ford to do the wrong thing and pull into an intersection that wasn’t clear. Best way in the world to get t-boned, or run over if you’re a pedestrian, is to do the wrong thing just because someone else is doing the nice thing.

                  1. I’m not so sure people are doing the “nice” thing by stopping at a flashing orange light. More likely just ignorance of the law.

                  2. Have to agree Keith F. I could have easily run over someone this morning, and may well have if not for having this conversation in mind. Was headed toward Ponce and Decatur in the left lane on Church, just before the parking deck on the right. The light had just changed to green, but I noticed a truck in the right lane up ahead wasn’t moving. Something told me not pass that truck. Sure enough a woman the truck driver had let cross walked out in front of me. The crosswalk was only 40 feet or so from where she chose to cross. There was no reason she couldn’t have used it.

  10. They should be waiting for the signal, but I wonder if some pedestrians assume differently? I was in Sausalito, CA recently, and I noticed that there were very few crossing signals in their downtown area, so cars have to stop at pretty much every crosswalk. Obviously they are accustomed to it there, as I didn’t see one vehicle fail to stop. I think people are slowly growing accustomed to it here too, both pedestrians and drivers.

    1. I think it will improve here since there seem to be more people walking and biking, etc.

      I like what Carlsbad, CA did with some of their intersections. At one point in the traffic signal cycles, all the car signals go red. With traffic stopped, pedestrians can then cross any street in any direction for a good 20-25 seconds. They can even go diagonal from one corner to another. Then the traffic lights resume. I think they called it the Carlsbad Shuffle or something. There’s a YouTube video that highlights it. Maybe that’s only practical where there are lots of people waiting to cross, though.

      1. There are a couple of intersections like that on Colorado Blvd in Pasadena as well. It’s fun watching the tourists try and figure out what the heck to do (and cross while the little red hand is no longer flashing, shame on them). Lots of intersections in Tokyo like that as well, with mass chaos for those 25 or 30 seconds. I have to admit to crossing diagonally (or Diagon Alley) with the new bulb outs at Fairview and Montgomery to get to Taqueria. My 7-year old gets a kick out of it…

      2. Interest anecdote: it was a traffic engineer named Barnes who invented the all-signals-red-everyone-crosses-in-any-direction thing. Traffic folks call it a “Barnes dance”.

  11. For the love of Pete. Are we trying to compete with the ridiculous paving pattern of the downtown plaza? First rule of good sustainable design….. Stop trying so hard! Does anyone remember the award winning frog plaza near Courtland and Piedmont Roads? Yeah, that award winning design is long gone. Just remove the fake bricks and paint the crosswalk, nothing else, in a notable pattern. Diagonal cross hatch maybe? Believe it or not white paint shows up quite well at night.

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