I’m doing the A to Z Challenge in April, using the theme of the UK & Ireland. Today is the last day of the challenge, featuring the letter Z. I’ll make a list tomorrow of all my A to Z posts, just in case you missed any!
Z is for zebra crossing, the term that the Brits use for a pedestrian crossing that is marked by wide white stripes.
Possibly the most famous zebra crossing in the world is the one at Abbey Road in London. The cover of the Beatles album, Abbey Road, is a photograph of the four band members crossing the road on a zebra crossing. Lennon leads in a white suit. McCartney is third in line and barefoot.
I recently learned that American transportation experts and urban planners use the term continental crossing for this feature.
This blog post about safety improvements for pedestrians in Cincinnati demonstrates that usage:
The old standard accepted the typical parallel lines seen throughout most of the city today, but the new MUTCD calls for what traffic engineers call “continental” crosswalk markings, which feature two-foot-wide yellow or white stripes.
I learned another descriptive term for this type of crosswalk from a planning document for making safer routes to schools in Portsmouth, New Hampshire:
Recommendations include wide “piano key” or “continental” crossing patterns for the best visibility and for ease of maintenance.
I like either zebra crossing or piano key crossing better than continental since they are much more descriptive.
Whatever we call them, I’d like to see a lot more of these in the US. The consultant who spoke at the meeting where I attended said that zebra crossings would make a particular busy intersection near where I live much safer for pedestrians, including a lot of children who walk through the area before and after school. For now, that intersection has thin parallel lines to protect pedestrians.
Are zebra crossings common where you live?