Could a bold new street-design proposal
help prevent pedestrian deaths?
BY ADELE PETERS
Crossing the street can kill you, even
in the most pedestrian-friendly cities.
Are crosswalks part of the problem?
A firm called Ogrydziak Prillinger
Architects is trying to reduce accidents
by rethinking how people get from one
side of the street to the other. The com-
pany, which is based in San Francisco
(where an average of three pedestrians
are hit by cars every day), has come up
with a network of pedestrian lanes and
planters that blur the usual boundaries
between walkers and drivers. Its radical
idea: Blending the street and sidewalk
might actually save lives. “We saw the
street as a kind of undiscovered public
place,” says cofounder Zoe Prillinger.
“We wanted to challenge the conventional expectation that the pavement
belongs to vehicles and the sidewalk
belongs to pedestrians.” Here’s how
the concept—for which we’ve created
our own rendering—would work.
4 CENTRAL PLANTERS
The plan isn’t just about
safety. Prillinger hopes the
crosswalks will connect
to each other visually and
help create a “network of
green” that “stitches everything together and pulls
nature into the streets.”
3 CORNER BENCHES
These seating spaces protect pedestrians as they step
into the street. They also
provide a new space for
community gardens, which
encourages local ownership
of the streetscape.
1 CURB EXTENSIONS
The design starts with “
bulb-outs,” which make sidewalks
bulge into the street and pedestrians more visible. Since putting
pedestrians closer to traffic is
riskier, the extensions have high
ridges for more protection.
The ridges also work as planters.
“It becomes a kind of occupiable
public space,” says Prillinger.
2 HYBRID ZONE
Safety interventions sometimes go unnoticed, so the
architects wanted a design
that’s impossible to miss.
A bold hatch pattern covers
parts of both the sidewalk
and street, creating a “hybrid
zone” that alerts drivers.
“We’re questioning who the
street belongs to and making that question very
visible and prominent,” says
Prillinger. “We didn’t want
a strict dichotomy between
street and sidewalk.”