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Aarhus tries out an illusion of safety


A style of trompe l'oeil painting that's been popular as an internet meme and street art staple will be getting a test in real traffic safety in Aarhus, Denmark.

Three pedestrian crossings will be repainted to give them a 3-D appearance, with the white stripes floating above the street, in hopes that drivers and cyclists will be more likely to see them ahead and give way to pedestrians. If the experiment is successful, the treatment will be applied to more intersections.

Danish traffic law requires that drivers “adapt their speed in such a way that no danger or disadvantage occurs for pedestrians who are on the crossing or approaching it,” and “must stop to let the pedestrians pass, if necessary.”

It's the "approaching it" part that seems to be the most violated, with those on wheels ignoring those on feet who haven't actually started to cross. “You don’t have to walk around in Aarhus for long to discover that you can wait for a very long time to cross roads at pedestrian crossings without light regulation,” according to municipal counselor Bünyamin Simsek.

The test period will run until April 2024, sufficient time to see if the enhanced crossings have a lasting effect, not just when they're new.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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