ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – It’s trippy and almost guaranteed to catch your attention. But that’s exactly the point.
A town in Iceland is testing out a 3D-painted crosswalk that looks like it’s “floating” on the road, according to Digg.
It's an optical illusion that's intentionally designed to shock drivers into paying attention.
The small fishing town of Ísafjörður in Iceland has painted a 3D zebra crossing to slow down speeding vehicles. pic.twitter.com/SuZJopfkYe— PHS Technology Dept. (@phstd) October 30, 2017
Similar ideas have been tried in cities in India, China and Canada, but what about right here in Tampa Bay?
After all, Florida has the second-highest rate of pedestrian deaths in the entire country, according to the most recent data available from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration or NHSTA.
Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay region was ranked No. 7 as the most dangerous metro areas in the nation for pedestrian by a group called Smart Growth America.
“We’ve done a really good job building highways that allow people to go pretty fast," said Whit Blanton, Pinellas County Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"And when people go fast to their destinations they’re not paying attention to people who are crossing."
Solutions to the problem have included the installation of flashing crosswalks—rectangular rapid flashing beams—which have now become commonplace across the bay area.
Blanton says out-of-the-box ideas like the 3D-painted crosswalks is what county planners consider when looking at ways to improve the area's dismal pedestrian safety record.
“It’s definitely an attention grabber and it would cause people to slow down and be more observant," he said.
“The conversation is how do we improve visibility and situational awareness and that sometimes makes you look at innovative treatments.”
But it's not just as simple as making a decision to repaint the crosswalks.
"There's a process," Blanton says, referring to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices which dictates acceptable practices and where certain signage and markers can be applied.
"If we don't follow that you run the risk of having a lot of confusion."
Changes to the manual can and have been made, Blanton said, like when shared bike lane pavement markings were added.
While something as radical as a 3D-printed crosswalk might be far off from appearing on an Tampa Bay road, Blanton says work to re-imagine our roads and sidewalks and how pedestrians and drivers interact on them continues.
"We're really looking county-wide at how we allocate the space on our roadways so that it's safer," Blanton said.
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