The Story of the Guerilla DIY Potentially Dangerous Crosswalk

Thomas MacMillan Photo

Frustrated by the lack of a crosswalk on a busy Whitney Avenue stretch, street-painters took matters into their own hands—and, in the view of a lawmaker down the block, inadvertently made the street more dangerous for pedestrians.

The new DIY crosswalk appeared early Sunday morning at the corner of Audubon Street and Whitney Avenue. It’s a homespun affair, comprising a column of spray-painted rectangles connecting the north corner of Audubon with the sidewalk in front of Gourmet Heaven and Moe’s Southwest Grill, on the west side of Whitney.

The painters, who have requested to remain anonymous, could not be reached for comment. They put the crosswalk at a spot where people regularly jaywalk to cross between cars speeding down Whitney away from downtown. a location where Pedestrians have often requested a crosswalk there through the SeeClickFix website.

The spot is just not right for a crosswalk, argued Alderwoman Bitsie Clark, who lives a block away. The slight rise in Whitney Avenue just south of Audubon makes it impossible for oncoming drivers to see pedestrians in time to stop for them in a crosswalk, Clark said.

Jim Travers, interim director of the traffic and parking department, expressed similar sentiments, and said he is working with the city engineer on a better solution.

On Monday afternoon, the new crosswalk worked for at least one pedestrian. Two cars came to a halt at the feet of Yale grad student Sara Cole, who was making her way home. After stepping up onto the east side of Whitney, Cole called it a good spot for a crosswalk. “It is hard to cross the street right here,” she said.

But Cole said she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for people to paint crosswalks wherever they feel they’re needed. “They should probably go through the proper channels.”

Other pedestrians had mixed reactions. Many continued to jaywalk right next to the new crosswalk.

A lawyer toting a Dunkin Donuts coffee offered a legal opinion. “It’s a little bit of an attractive nuisance,” he said. That’s a legal term that describes something that draws people to it while putting them at risk, like an un-fenced swimming pool. The lawyer, who declined to give his name, said that if a pedestrian were struck by a car while in the crosswalk, the driver could legitimately argue that the pedestrian was jaywalking. In that way, the crosswalk might end up hurting pedestrians more than helping them, he said.




There are a lot of places in

There are a lot of places in the city where pedestrians feel there would be need of a crosswalk but there are some aspects that have to be considered when placing them. One of these aspects is incoming driver's visibility. They have to see the people crossing the street in time to stop. Sure, advancements in automotive technology have enabled cars to break and stop in a short distance, but why risk when people's lives are at risk. In my opinion, the sprayed on crosswalk should be erased and a better solution should be found.