Colorful Crosswalks Are Coming To Seattle | KUOW News and Information

Colorful Crosswalks Are Coming To Seattle

Sep 15, 2015

Seattle is making it easier for neighborhoods to customize crosswalks.

The idea started in June, when the city painted rainbow crosswalks in gay-friendly Capitol Hill ahead of Seattle Pride festivities. 

Then a group from the Central District called the United Hood Movement painted several crosswalks the colors of the Pan-African flag. Although one was official and the other ad hoc, both were responses to violence and gentrification in the area.

Crosswalks have been spritzed up elsewhere in the city, too. In Rainier Beach, a crosswalk was painted the colors of the Ethiopian flag. And on Phinney Ridge, piano keys were painted on the street outside A-1 Piano.

(Click through our slideshow of Seattle’s creative crosswalks – including a few we imagined.)

Rick Sheridan with the Seattle Department of Transportation said the city has had to brighten homemade crossings with reflective tape. Now residents can apply for a permanent design. Sheridan hopes Seattleites get creative.

“As opposed to having just one template, we want to let the neighborhood tell us what kind of design really speak to community pride in their area,” Sheridan said.

A Central District group colored in the crosswalks in Pan-African colors this summer.
Credit KUOW Photo/Liz Jones

The rules are strict: Colors only, no designs.

Seattle’s Department of Transportation and Department of Neighborhoods will pay for and manage the program. Crosswalks cost about $25 per square foot.

Some other cities already have colorful walkways. San Francisco, Philadelphia and Key West have rainbow crosswalks. Baltimore has a hopscotch, and people in Santa Maria, California, walk across wine grapes and Native American symbols. 

Jenny Asarnow contributed reporting. 

There aren't many sidewalks north of 85th in Seattle.
Credit KUOW Photo Illustration/Gil Aegerter

Photo illustration monkeys: "65/365 Too much monkey business" by Mykl Roventine on flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0