Creating Change, One Street Corner at a Time

The intersection at East 6th and Waller Streets grabbed the attention of Austinites earlier this month when the City used delineator posts and some bright paint to transform – at least temporarily – a mundane intersection into a bike and pedestrian-friendly crossing.Screen shot 2016-02-25 at 9.56.51 PM

Here’s how it came about: the City had received 311 calls asking for all-way stop signs at that intersection, says Cheyenne Krause, public information specialist with the Austin Transportation Department. When ATD studied the intersection, they saw a chance to go beyond the stop signs and crosswalk. By adding temporary curb extensions – that’s the function of the painted polka dots and poles – they made the crosswalks shorter, which gives pedestrians more room and gets drivers to slow down.

Krause says the poles and polka dots are a pilot project (the crosswalks and stop signs would have gone in no matter what). The City will monitor the intersection to see how well it holds up before making decisions about if or where other, similar intersections would go.

“We are aware that this area is rapidly changing and are monitoring the incoming development and related mobility implications. We don’t have any plans for nearby intersections as of right now but continue to evaluate as more projects come online,” Krause says.

Krause noted that in the short amount of time the poles have been up, several have already been flattened by cars. The City plans to replace the poles with turtle bumps, yellow semi-circles that are lower to the ground but still provide a physical and visual barrier between cars and other travelers.

We want to take a moment to recognize and applaud the City for “experimenting!” It may work beautifully, it may need tweaking, or it may not work at all; but at least they are trying new solutions.

Photo by City of Austin

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