New Program Creates Colorful, Safer Neighborhood Crosswalks

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Posted on Sep 24, 2015

A new program by the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) unveiled in September 2015 now allows neighborhoods to participate in developing their unique pedestrian crosswalks. Viewed as giving neighborhoods a “greater sense of ownership in their community” by the SDOT, it allows individual painted crosswalks – influenced by color or design schemes by a consensus of neighborhood residents – to replace existing drab, white-only, markings.

Seattle Crosswalks Can Succeed with Your Help

They can emphasize community culture, history or just “brighten” them up with color-coordinated stripes. It began with a group of residents who – on their own – decided to paint a crosswalk in their neighborhood red, black, and green: which represent the colors of the Pan-African flag.

News coverage of this imaginative enhancement inspired other neighborhoods to consider similar remedies to not only beautify their communities, but also as a safety measure to draw attention to motorists that they should be more aware of crosswalks in general. That one act has produced a groundswell of public interest; inspiring SDOT to develop the Neighborhood Crosswalk program to make it uniform, yet responsive to citizen requests.

Funding for the Neighborhood Crosswalk Program

Financed in part by grants from the Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF), participation is more affordable due to the defrayed costs by the NMF.  But specific guidelines must be met. The proposed site must be an existing, marked crosswalk; at a location where there is an existing stop sign or traffic light.

It must be narrower a “neighborhood” street; not an “arterial” (wider) boulevard or thoroughfare, in order to lessen the square footage of the crosswalk and by association, also lower the painting and maintenance costs. The pavement must also be in good condition.

Rules for designs should follow the instructions below.

  • Bordered by horizontal stripes of white, reflective paint and conform to the standards for a crosswalk.
  • Any lines within the borders must be either horizontal or vertical, to allow drivers, bikers, and pedestrians to understand that it is indeed a legal crosswalk. This also serves to keep the community costs as low as possible.
  • Color schemes for the interior markings are up to the neighborhood applicant(s); subject to the approval of SDOT and the NMF. They must also be limited to the colors available through SDOT's vendor that orders and supplies them.
  • No text, logos, octagons, triangles, or other shapes that might be confused with another (conflicting) traffic control device are permitted.


All special crosswalks are installed by SDOT. Depending on the total dimensions of the crosswalk, its design, and if traffic must be diverted from the site during the painting, the total cost (before the NMF’s matching funds) is around $25 per-square-foot. Depending on the amount of traffic the crosswalk experiences, it should anticipate a three to five year lifetime.

If you’re interested in learning more, contact Howard Wu with SDOT at 206-684-3902, or email him at [email protected]; as well as the Neighborhood Matching Fund Project Manager at 206-233-0093 or [email protected].

Max Meyers Law supports community initiatives that get neighbors to work together for a happier, healthier coexistence. If you are a pedestrian or bicyclist that was hurt by a negligent motorist, Max Meyers wants to hear your story. Call the office at 425-399-7000 or fill out a contact form if you’re on the go.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.