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7 reasons raised crosswalks are awesome

What is a raised crosswalk?

A raised crosswalk is simply a crosswalk that is higher than the surface of the road.

Raised Crosswalk in West Seattle

This West Seattle raised crosswalk makes this business district safer to walk around

7 reasons raised crosswalks awesome

  1. Safety and comfort for people crossing: We know that how fast someone is going determines how likely they are to see and stop for sometime trying to cross the street (check it out, wonks). By creating a de-facto gentle speed hump at the crosswalk, drivers slow down in advance of raised crosswalks and increase the likelihood they will stop for people walking.
  2. Safety along the street: Raised crosswalks can be designed to not impact transit or emergency vehicles while still curtailing dangerous and illegal speeding.
  3. Designating Key Community Destinations: Raised crosswalks are used around the world as a perfect tool to indicate the entrance to a business district, the transition from an arterial to a residential street, the crossing of a trail, an important park crossing, or to help highlight a school zone where children will be walking.

    raised crosswalk in Magnuson Park

    raised crosswalk in Magnuson Park

  4. Symbolic Priority: Raised crosswalks send a message that, at least in this one location, people walking are prioritized, rather than the quickest movement of vehicles.

    pedestrian prioritized at crossings

    How streets feel to people walking + driver beg button

  5. Less stress for drivers: Raised crosswalks make it easier for drivers to anticipate where to people will be crossing.
  6. Accessibility: If you’re pushing a stroller, wheel chair or walking on a well built raised crosswalk, you don’t have to descend into the gutter and street to get across the road.
  7. Community Identity: Raised crosswalks can also be painted to reflect the values or heritage of the community as seen in this Pan-African flag raised crosswalk to Powell Barnett Park in the Central District. The city’s community crosswalk program can help your neighborhood make this happen.
Pan-African Raised crosswalk (bike blog image)

Click to Enlarge (image courtesy of Seattle Bike Blog)

How can I get me one of these?

Get involved with your local group! We have submitted grants for raised crosswalks in locations across Seattle, have been working to incorporate them into all of the city’s plans and manuals, and have been encouraging the department of transportation to use this exciting tool more often to keep our communities safe.

NACTO speed-table raised crosswalk diagramWait a sec, what about drainage?

Ah, glad you asked. Ideally the raised crosswalk is level with the adjacent sidewalks so that people pushing a stroller, wheel chair or walking don’t have to descend into the gutter and street to cross the road. But to save costs of more complex drainage, sometimes raised crosswalks will have a dip near the edge of the road to allow for water to flow as in the example below.

Nathan Hale raised crosswalk view 2

Raised Crosswalk improving safety for students at Nathan Hale High School