I once worked with the manic guy who would paint the lines on the streets of my small hometown. Our work was decidedly one-dimensional, despite his art degree, and our small painting rig was not meant for big striping jobs, especially curvy roads. To create a radius, we'd set up guide strings and make a smooth arc. It didn't always work out, and my friends would rib me mercilessly after trying to follow the crazy angular path we'd sprayed.

Laugh all you want, friends, but according to Virginia's Department of Transportation, we were on to something. The VDOT is trying a method it says has been successful at reducing motorist speeds on Australian and UK roads with heavy pedestrian traffic.

There's no mistaking VDOT's new lines, they're wide, white, and zig-zag right down the middle of the lane. It may confuse some drivers at first, but the hope is that they'll slow down while exclaiming "what the...?" Right now, the lines are only at one or two intersections, with the lines starting about 500 feet from where the two roads come together. If the low-cost move meets with success, more intersections will be getting painted up. Press release after the jump.

[Source: VDOT via WTOP]


PRESS RELEASE:

Experimental Pavement Markings Aimed at Speed Reduction, Pedestrian Safety
Similar Program Successful in Europe

LOUDOUN COUNTY- This spring, pedestrians and cyclists may experience safer crossings at two mid-block bike trail crossings after the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) installs zigzag pavement markings in high traffic areas to get motorists to slow down.

The markings will be placed in line with the flow of traffic to catch the attention of drivers prior to the actual crosswalk. The Virginia Transportation Research Council, VDOT's research division, is testing the new markings in Loudoun County where the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) trail crosses Sterling Boulevard and Belmont Ridge Road.

These two locations were picked out of 70 places where this trail intersects with roadways because of traffic volume, speed, sight distance, roadway curvature and data collection considerations.

"We're constantly looking for new ways to alert drivers about pedestrians," said Hari Sripathi, VDOT regional traffic engineer.

VDOT is installed the road markings at the Belmont Ridge location on Monday, April 13, and plans to install another set of markings at the Sterling Boulevard location on Thursday, April 23, weather permitting.

After the pavement markings are installed, VDOT will monitor traffic speeds and driver behavior for a full year. If the experiment is successful, VDOT may consider the zigzag markings as a more standard pedestrian safety measure.
The zigzag pavement markings are a low cost alternative to other safety improvements at mid-block locations. The pavement markings come in two different styles. The Federal Highway Administration approved their use for this test after seeing the successful use of these markings in the United Kingdom and Australia.

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