#TIL: Taking the zebra out of crossings

By Chhavi Banswal

A ‘cow walk’ for pedestrians in A Coruña, Spain, Source: Diarrio de Ferrol 2018

For Spanish city A Coruña, the traditional black and white zebra crosswalks are a passé. Situated in the Galicia region, well-known for being the primary supplier of milk in Spain, the City has been commemorating the Friesian cow with a patchy ‘cow walk’ since 2018.

The city officials reasoned that the north-western region had no zebras, so the traditional zebra crossings did not represent their culture. However, the significance of these cow walks may well go beyond symbolism.

Today, non-traditional pedestrian crossings are beginning to make a mark in different regions — be it the abstract black-yellow ‘tiger walks’ for cyclists in London or ‘rainbow walks’ to celebrate LGBTQ+ communities in San Francisco or even the multicoloured crossings painted by Nokia in Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru to raise awareness about pedestrian safety.

The reasons behind revamping zebra crossings are aplenty — cheaper installation cost compared to signalised crossings, reimagining the mobility experience, popularising local culture among travellers. According to a study by Roma Tre University (2020), drivers in Rome, Italy were more likely to slow down to observe the redesigned red-white zebra crossings, as opposed to the traditional zebra crossings, which they were already accustomed to.

These unique crossings around the world are not only emerging as a bridge between culture and mobility, but also as innovative steps towards improving road safety and driver behaviour.

Today I Learnt (TIL) is a weekly series by OMI that brings you interesting nuggets of information that you didn’t know you needed.

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