Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A suburban pedestrian crossing, part 1

A new pedestrian crossing for the walking bus...

I have a couple of kids who are now going to our local public primary school. Along with a few other families on our street who also have kids at the school, we've organised a little informal 'walking  bus', in which pairs of parents take turns to walk a group of the kids to school each morning.

We've all got different reasons for doing it. Some of us have jobs to get to in the morning and can now leave the kids with others and get away before school starts (except on the days that we 'drive' the bus!). Some of us are newish to the neighbourhood and think it's a great way to meet the neighbours and build relationships between the kids. Some of us are keen to stay out of our cars and 'model' walking as a mode of transport for our kids. Some of us need the exercise (!). Some of us like the idea of collectivising some of our parenting activities on the street. Some of us just like walking, etc etc.

We're now into our second school year, and on the days when the bus is 'full', we've got a bit of a problem. We have to cross one busy road, and there's no pedestrian crossing on our route. There's a traffic island, but it's pretty freaky standing there with a group of kids while cars, buses and trucks barrel past at speed.

The traffic island (pic taken by Mr B, 7 years old)

Waiting on the traffic island, from a 7 year old's perspective (thanks again to Mr B)

So, we want a pedestrian crossing across that road.

We've been talking about it for a while ... and I figure if I blog about this publicly (hello, public!), I'm more likely to get my ass into gear and do something about it. This, then, is the first of a series of posts in which I plan to document our efforts to get a pedestrian crossing in our neighbourhood.

A plan of attack

Now, like any group of people who want to change something in the city, even something as small-scale as a suburban pedestrian crossing, there are some immediate choices to make about how we are going to approach this.

We could write letters to the local council, stating our case, and hope for the best.

We could take matters into our own hands, buy some paint, and paint one on ourselves in the middle of the night. This form of 'do-it-yourself' urbanism is gaining traction in many cities around the world at the moment. The Hack Your City blog has a post on such efforts here. Here in Sydney, we recently had a visit from the Better Block people that generated quite a bit of interest -- do-it-yourself pedestrian crossings are just the kind of citizen-initiated infrastructure that they've been actively creating and advocating in many cities in the United States, and beyond.

Do-it-yourself pedestrian crossing, Tehran: from