downtown los angeles, historic core

New Zebra Crosswalks Elevate Pedestrian Safety at 5th and Spring in Downtown LA

New "zebra crossings" were installed this week at 5th and Spring in Downtown LA

New “zebra crossings” were installed this week at 5th and Spring in Downtown LA

A nice subtle change occurred over this past week in the Historic Core at the intersection of 5th and Spring where new zebra crosswalks were painted, replacing the common “parallel lines” crosswalk. The striped “zebra crossings” (aka “continental crosswalks”) are meant to provide higher visibility to the intersection so that crossing the street for pedestrians is a safer experience. Because the stripes become a much more salient feature in the urban landscape, the new crosswalks also elevate the pedestrians’ status in a city still dominated by a car-oriented mentality where usually pedestrians take the backseat.

Zebra crossings are characterized by their alternating black and white stripes and were developed in the United Kingdom in 1949. They have become a popular format used around the world to help enhance pedestrian safety, including some examples seen below in Tokyo and New York.

In addition to the new zebra crossings at 5th and Spring, new “stop lines” have been painted as well that delineate clearly where cars should stop behind the line. This buffer zone “effectively widens the crosswalk without altering the legal definition of a crosswalk,” according a case study completed in New York.

It is unclear whether or not this is the beginning of more to come for zebra crossings in Downtown LA. If the crosswalks are successful with pedestrians and vehicles, which I believe they will be, I think they should be implemented more broadly throughout Downtown LA. Los Angeles has not been known to be a place for pedestrians, but with more and more changes like this, our reputation will eventually reflect these positive steps forward.

Notice the new "stop line" on the left where cars wait behind, effectively widening the crosswalk and giving pedestrians more crossing clearance

Notice the new “stop line” on the left where cars wait behind, effectively widening the crosswalk and giving pedestrians more crossing clearance

Some examples of zebra crossings in other cities

A zebra crossing in Times Square, New York (Photo: A Chick With Baggage)

A zebra crossing in Times Square, New York (Photo: A Chick With Baggage)

Zebra crosswalks in Shibuya, Tokyo, one of the largest pedestrian crossings in the world

Zebra crosswalks in Shibuya, Tokyo (Photo:

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  1. corner soul says

    That’s awesome… and with the stop line pulled back a few feet too!

    I really hope these become the standard all over downtown, and the rest of central LA. It’s one of those little things that seems to make a huge psychological difference for motorists. Designing our streets for pedestrians will encourage more people to walk, and that’s exactly what LA needs to focus on if they want to reduce traffic and increase Metro ridership.

  2. brudy says

    These should be everywhere downtown. One other nit – the light at 5th and Olive. You don’t automatically get the walk signal, despite the large number of pedestrians in the area. You have to push the button. What’s really crazy is that since 5th is one way, you don’t even get the walk when 5th has the red. I see tourists confused all the time around this intersection. LADOT really needs to rethink these kinds of things to make downtown more pedestrian friendly.

  3. Sebastian says

    It would be cool if they did x crosswalks like in the picture from tokyo. They also do this in old town pasadena.

    • brudy says

      Agreed. That would actually be great at 5th and Olive, where people are always trying to cross.

  4. That diagonal cross in Tokyo is just because on the right is the Shibuya subway station. and the whole intersection is a crosswalk in every direction. not nearly enough volume to justify in downtown LA

    • I think the best intersections for all-walks in DTLA would be 7th & Figueroa and 7th & Flower. Both have Metro station entrances and a decent amount of pedestrian activity already. As FIGat7th continues to add tenants and once the Wilshire Grand replacement is finished, you can bet the pedestrian counts will ratchet up even more.

  5. raymond3000 says

    So proud of the city for doing this! Such a no-brainer, I think they should implement these in high volume areas like Figueroa-Olive from 5th down to Pico, Bway-Main from 2nd-Pico. Makes Dt look that much more “big city”

  6. Deric says

    You know what would also help pedestrians? Get rid of the sketchy people that hang around Rite-Aid at 5th and Broadway, or all of 5th for that matter.

    • brudy says

      That corner is infamous for its drug activity. It’s been semi-cleaned up in recent years, but I’ve seen a number of people get arrested there since I’ve lived downtown.

      5th st is a strange street. It has a large homeless presence that seem to stream out of skid row towards Pershing in the mornings. It also just feels pretty crappy despite having a great bookstore, lots of residential, and a good market. Closer to Pershing it just feels soo blighted and crappy. I hope the new Walgreens gets finished soon, that may help a little. They’ve been working on that seemingly forever. That Rite Aid and 7-11 are some of the worst chain places I’ve ever seen in my life.

  7. Awesome news! Zebra crossings were something I’d taken for granted before moving to LA, unfortunately. I hope every major intersection in the city has them sooner than later!

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