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Neighborhoods think beyond the black-and-white crosswalk

Pawprints in Parkside. Rainbows in Allentown. Children's designs near the King Urban Life Center. Street art in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Neighborhoods are thinking beyond the traditional black-and-white crosswalk.

It started in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood near the Buffalo Zoo, where residents created a zebra-print crosswalk at Parkside Avenue and Russell Street and painted paw prints at Humboldt Parkway and Woodward Avenue.

Now, community leaders in several other neighborhoods are working with the city to add art to crosswalks.

This spring, the King Urban Life Center will partner with GoBike Buffalo to add crosswalk art for two intersections, one at Rich and Genesee streets and another at Rich and Best streets. Children from the center's afterschool program will help create the designs, which could include flowers, bees, footprints and a heart and sun, as well as a crown to symbolize Martin Luther King Jr.

Pawprints mark the crosswalk at Humboldt and Woodward. (Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News)

"It's really awesome that the kids will play a creative part in building these crosswalks and it would be great for them to see their artwork promoting safety in the neighborhood," said Elizabeth Hinton, co-coordinator of the center's afterschool program.

Hinton said the crosswalk art will be semi-permanent and done with stencils and paint.

That's not all.

The Allentown Association is working with city officials in the hope of having residents paint rainbow crosswalks – a symbol of peace and inclusivity – at the corner of Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue. The project is eyed for June 2 in the midst of the Buffalo Pride Festival and the start of the association's First Fridays Gallery event. Years ago, a colored duct-tape design was done in the area near Franklin and North Pearl streets.

The Allentown Association has received a $1,000 grant to help pay for the cost of painting the rainbow crosswalks. If the crosswalk art can't happen this year, there's hope that the rainbow theme could at least be painted on garbage cans, benches or light poles, said Andrew Eisenhardt, Allentown Association executive director.

A proposal by Seth Amman of the Allentown Association would add rainbows to an intersection in the neighborhood. (Courtesy Seth Amman)

Next up could be the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

Thea Hassan, formerly with GoBike and now transportation program manager for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus Inc., is pursuing plans to create crosswalk art on the Medical Campus, where she said it would increase visibility for pedestrians and "help create a sense of place."

"One thing I'm really passionate about is the idea for crosswalk art," Hassan said. "It would be the first crosswalk art on the campus. It sounds kind of silly, but it's kind of fun and whimsical.

The city doesn't have a uniform crosswalk art policy in place. As more community groups ask for crosswalk art, the city is reviewing the request, including potential safety concerns, said Michael DeGeorge, City of Buffalo spokesman.

In Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood, residents painted the pawprints and zebra pattern.

"Just people in the neighborhood did those.  It's a traffic calming measure," said Amber Small, executive director of the Parkside Community Association. "Visual cues like crosswalks help slow down traffic."



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