Can a 3rd dimension make crosswalks safer? Montreal is about to find out

City workers painted a 3D crosswalk onto Outremont’s busy Bernard Avenue Tuesday. The idea is to catch the eyes of drivers to prompt them to yield to pedestrians.

Cities in France, Germany, China and India already trying 3D crosswalks

A city worker puts the finishing touches on a crosswalk painted in a 3-dimensional style for a pilot project, in the Montreal borough of Outremont on Tuesday. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The Montreal borough of Outremont has joined Germany, France, India and Iceland in hopes of catching the eyes of drivers with a crosswalk painted to appear three-dimensional.

City workers painted the 3D intersection on Tuesday on Bernard Avenue at the corner of Champagneur Avenue. The goal is to catch drivers' eyes and prompt them to yield to pedestrians.


Outremont borough Coun. Mindy Pollak said she believes it's the first 3D crosswalk in Canada. The new crosswalk costs about $3,000, while the ordinary white stripes costs as little as $200, she said.

More costly than regular corridors

Pollack hopes the crosswalk will make drivers slow down and give pedestrians a feeling of increased safety.

This 3D crosswalk is painted on a street in Germany. (Christoph Soeder/AFP/Getty Images)

Véronique Laberge Gaudin, a mother of three elementary school-aged children, said she appreciates the effort to slow down traffic.

"I'll wait to see the results, but I'm sure it's going to make a difference," she said.

Tim Nguiem, a tourist visiting from Texas, said he when first spotted it, "I didn't know what it was."

He said if he were driving through the intersection, the optical illusion of a raised surface would "make me think twice."

Can't just be a gimmick

But Daniel Lambert, a spokesperson for the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of Westmount, said he doubts the crosswalk will increase safety for pedestrians.

Outremont borough workers were caught in the rain, but still managed to paint the borough's first 3D crosswalk. (CBC)

He says if the city of Montreal wants to get serious about protecting them, "it has to do more than these kinds of cosmetic, gimmicky things."

Lambert recommends Toronto's approach. That city strings lights above crosswalks which pedestrians can turn to alert oncoming vehicles that they are about to cross the street.

In Toronto pedestrians can push a button to make lights flash above the street. (Google)

He also wondered if the 3D crosswalks will make it through the summer. Montreal uses water-based paints on the streets because they're environmentally friendly.



With files from Verity Stevenson