Tacoma Vows to Prosecute Rogue Crosswalk Painters


A group calling themselves “Citizens for a Safer Tacoma” has painted five crosswalks around the city, in hopes of pressing officials to take pedestrian safety more seriously.

The city of Tacoma, meanwhile, has reacted defensively, threatening to prosecute the group, according to King 5 News. Kurtis Kingsolver, interim public works director, complained to the television station that it costs the city $1,000 each to remove the guerrilla crosswalks and that they create a safety concern. Apparently rising traffic fatalities and citizen complaints are not enough to compel the city to improveconditions for walking. He said the city must consider things like sightlines, street width, and traffic volumes before installing a crosswalk.

Members of “Citizens for a Safer Tacoma” say they are responding to an increase in traffic collisions. With 15 of their members having been hit by cars, they say they tried to get the city to help, but were turned away.

The threat of arrest isn’t deterring them. “If the city does nothing, we will,” an anonymous spokesman for the group told the television station. “None of us want to go to jail, but we’re more dedicated to the safety of citizens than we are to the law.”

12 thoughts on Tacoma Vows to Prosecute Rogue Crosswalk Painters

  1. Apparently rising traffic fatalities and citizen complaints are not enough to compel the city to improveconditions for walking. He said the city must consider things like sightlines, street width, and traffic volumes before installing a crosswalk. http://num.to/824626477193

  2. We need to scale this up to about 100 million people putting in crosswalks and bike lanes, redesigning streets so traffic moves at an appropriate speed, putting in sidewalks where none exist, expanding those that are insufficient, etc. etc.

  3. The city of Tacoma needs a refresher on state law regarding crosswalks. Just like in my home state, a crosswalk is defined by the type of intersection, NOT by whether or not it is marked (striped). Here is the law: http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=46.61.235. “Stop for pedestrians at intersections – Vehicles shall
    stop at intersections to allow pedestrians and bicycles to cross the
    road within a marked or unmarked crosswalk (RCW 46.61.235).” http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/walk/Laws.htm .

    Bottom line: all drivers must yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, marked or unmarked. Unfortunately, most drivers are ill-trained and uninformed, and thus generally fail to yield whether or not a crosswalk is marked.

    Instead of going after concerned citizens, the city should immediately do these things: 1) add pedestrian and bicycle safety law training to driver education and employee education; 2) start conducting stings and scofflaw driver enforcement at crosswalks of most concern; 3) reduce speed limits; and 4) adopt complete streets if they haven’t already, and aggressively begin redesigning streets for pedestrian and bicycle safety rather than vehicle flow efficiency.

  4. Mr. Kingsolver? Public works director isn’t an elected position, sorry to say. But he is interim, so hopefully he won’t get the permanent job. City council members, on the other hand….

  5. Putting crosswalks everywhere doesn’t necessarily increase pedestrian safety. There have been extensive studies on whether or not painting a crosswalk will do any good. I don’t know if Tacoma follows these or some other guidelines, but blindly painting crosswalks anywhere can create a more dangerous condition.

    I agree with the City of Tacoma in removing the illegal crosswalks, but maybe they also need to check their crosswalk guidelines to make sure they are in line with recent studies.

    Letting people mark up the street anyway they want is a recipe for disaster.

  6. Why not call these rogue crosswalks “desire lines”? Then Michael Kimmelman will write a piece about it in the NY Times!

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