3-D or Not 3-D? That is the Question

J.C. Howard

J.C. Howard | Nov 08, 2017

So it seems I’ve found an anomaly surrounding the relationship between myself, cars, and pedestrians. When I’m behind the wheel of a car and have a near dangerous encounter with a pedestrian, it is the pedestrian who is acting stupid and unreasonable. Likewise, when I am myself a pedestrian and have a similar encounter, it is the driver of the car that is the big dummy!

Meanwhile, in Iceland, a new optical illusion attempts to trick drivers into a safer relationship with pedestrians. The small fishing village of Ísafjörður now features a 3D pedestrian crosswalk painted last month in an attempt to encourage cars to slow down upon approach. The artistic crossing path appears to be floating just above the ground as it is approached by car, and an aerial view will make the path appear as a series of floating walls—ya know, for all of those flying cars out there.

3-D Crosswalk as seen from above

It seems like a great idea--the driver's mind will be tricked into perhaps reacting by slowing down the car before the reality is realized. The question still remains though: how long will this effect last? Imagine this crosswalk was on the corner near your home or work, eventually you might catch on and your brain would filter out the illusion. Besides, if the art is affected by an oil mark, pothole or skid-mark (presumably caused by a car failing to slow down quickly enough), the 2-D-ness will betray the 3-D stripe and reveal it as a sham.

Other cities have devised their own ideas to improve pedestrian safety. For instance perhaps some of our readers live in a city with “in-street signs;” signs literally in the middle of the road to alert drivers to potential pedestrians. Or maybe you have seen flashing pedestrian lights; pedestrians will push a button before crossing a street that causes yellow safety lights to flash in front of oncoming traffic. The Traffic and Parking Control website suggests the use of “advance stop or yield signs,” that might make drivers stop 20-30 feet before the crosswalk.

The point though is, that yes, there are any number of solutions available, and yes, there are reasons that these 3-D crosswalks might be less than ideal. But it is another creative solution to a problem that is as old as the car itself. And here at Car Talk, we come down squarely on the side of avoiding car/pedestrian collisions. So we approve. 


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