Polka dots at East Austin intersection intended to make pedestrians safer

The Austin Transportation Department installed new security precautions at the corners of East 6th Street and Waller, a hotspot for car crashes in recent years.

"I've seen a guy get clipped, I've seen people lay on the horn, it's scary," said Curtis Moran who lives nearby. 

"I personally almost got hit a couple times. So yeah, it's just really hard to see people whether you're a pedestrian or a car," said the co-owner of the Buenos Aires Café Paola M.G. Smith.

The number of crashes had the Transportation Department considering what they could do to make the intersection safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.

"We realized we could take advantage and put the stop signs in the street, make them more visible to drivers and pedestrians and cyclists, but also put in what we call delineators to kind of define the space. And that would also have the advantage of shortening the crossing distance for pedestrians to make it even safer," said Austin Transportation Department Managing Engineer Eric Bollich. 

Wednesday, transportation crews added stop signs to every corner and built out the sidewalks with flexible posts, white lines and blue and green polka dots.

"We realized that we could actually take the space and make it actually a lot cheaper and faster and more cost effective by putting those in rather than concrete curbs," Bollich said. 

"I think it's great where they put the stop sign actually, because it allows you to get a little bit closer  to see what's actually happening.  I love that they put in all colors and stuff. That was really cute, but I think this is great I'm really excited," Smith said.  

The polka dot corners are a way to give space back to pedestrians and cyclists. The idea was inspired by transportation projects in cities like New York and Los Angeles.

"We thought this would be a great location to try this out and I think it met the character of the neighborhood," Bollich said.

"I really like the colors. It adds a little touch of East Austin flair. I think it's a great idea," said Moran.

It may take a while for local drivers to get comfortable with the new precautions.

"I have to say people are getting used to it because we've seen a lot of people just driving like, 'Oh my God, there's a stop sign? Since when?'" said Smith. 

Transportation Department officials said depending on how things go, there could be more polka dot corners around Austin in the future.

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Have you seen the new polka dot intersection at East Sixth Street and Waller Street?

Posted by FOX 7 Austin on Friday, January 29, 2016


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