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Funky Dutch Crosswalks Celebrate the Pedestrian

In Rotterdam, the streets have a message: “Walk Proud.”
Stand Straight, everybody.
Stand Straight, everybody. Street Makers/Ossip van Duivenbode

If a nerd-god spilled his Scrabble set down upon earth, you might get something resembling the newest crosswalks in Rotterdam. With immense letters and shapes tangled up on the pavement, the word-soup crossings are weird and difficult to ignore—and that’s the point, as they’re meant to enliven the neighborhood and protect its pedestrians from inattentive motorists.

The Dutch burg unveiled the so-called creative crosswalks last week on downtown’s Westblaak street, a post-WWII thoroughfare designed principally for auto traffic that some have dubbed a “dysfunctional public space” and a “barrier for pedestrians.” Produced by local urbanism agency Street Makers and art collective Opperclaes at the behest of the city, the twin crosswalks join communities on either side of the road that were previously separated by rivers of honking cars. Attentive passersby will notice a written battle cry that Street Makers says is about “celebrating the pedestrian”: “STAND STRAIGHT / WALK PROUD.”