A group in Canada has come up with a traffic calming solution they think will decrease the number of children hit by cars in school zones. They’ve created an optical illusion, a painting on the street which – as you approach – takes on the appearance of a little girl chasing a ball into the street. From a certain distance and height the image appears to be three dimensional – it looks quite real.
Newsy.com provided a great summary of the story:
Now, this is interesting for sure, but I think there’s a major drawback that the Canadians are glossing over. If we start putting these kinds of ‘fake pedestrians’ in the street, drivers are going to get accustomed to them. People who drive over these regularly are likely to become conditioned to expect fake pedestrians in the street in certain areas. If this happens I think you’ll see the problem drivers return to their old ways of driving – ie, not slowing down – only this time they’re not slowing down when they see a child in the road because they expect it to be an illusion. THAT sounds like a recipe for disaster.
Supposedly the group is only going to leave the painting up for a week – and in that case, it may work as planned (give drivers a scare and increase their wariness around the school zone). They say that they might make it permanent, however, if the results of the week-long experiment are favorable. I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
A better idea might be to copy what Antanas Mockus has done in Bogota, Columbia – paint (and permanently maintain) a memorial on the road in any place where someone was killed in a car accident. As you can imagine the streets of Bogota are now quite full of markers indicating the history of automobile related deaths, and drivers are given a sobering reminder of the dangers of the road on every trip around the city.