One of Austin's busiest intersections has long been a source of trouble for pedestrians. According to local news channel KXAN, in 2015 alone the intersection at East 6th and Waller Streets was the location of almost two dozen accidents. Now, in order to make the area more safe, the city has taken a new approach that's truly in the nature of Austin's love of whimsy.
The once-intimidating spot now has stop signs at every corner, poles to separate the crosswalk and roadway, and light blue and green polka dots painted around each curb. While attractive, the dots serve a greater cause: they give space back to the humble and vulnerable pedestrian.
City of Austin
The curb extensions or "bulb outs," make use of area that was generally underutilized.
Anna Martin, traffic engineer for the Austin Transportation Department, told CityLab that rather than build out the sidewalks with concrete, the polka dots offered an aesthetically pleasing, cost-efficient alternative. The dots are bright enough for the driver to take notice, but subtle enough to not cause a dangerous distraction.
“It's a testament to the character and energy of Austin,” Marissa Monroy, public relations specialist for the city of Austin told CityLab. “People are really excited to see a project that emphasizes safety but, at the same time, really shows that we like to have a little bit of fun.“