The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. deserves whimsical crosswalks too!

(Ben Claassen III/For Express)

Everyone knows the real purpose of Facebook is to post photos that will make your friends jealous. So I expect that whenever I log on, I’ll have to scroll through snapshots of outrageous vacations, extravagant parties and adorable families. None of that impresses me anymore.

Want to know what does? Crosswalks. When my pal in San Francisco recently put up a picture of the painted rainbows that now guide pedestrians over the Castro District’s asphalt, I bestowed upon it my most sincere “like” in years. Skinny strips of color are clearly superior to staid black-and-white patterns.

I experienced this same flash of envy last December, when Baltimore unveiled the first of its artistic crosswalks — a hopscotch-inspired one near the Bromo Seltzer Tower.

Back when I believed this was just a Charm City quirk, I was content with the District letting its hipper neighbor strut its stuff. But now I’ve come to understand that whimsical crosswalks are becoming a national, actual thing.

In the past month, the city council in Austin, Texas, greenlit a rainbow crosswalks project. Lompoc, Calif., approved funding for Baltimore-style crosswalks there. And Jeffersonville, Ind., just proudly announced the completion of four cutesy crosswalks, including one showing fish playing musical instruments. (I’m hoping that makes some sense to the people of Jeffersonville?)

My point is that it’s time for D.C. to jump on the bandwagon. And I have a few ideas:

  • Farragut Crossing. Metro’s tunnel between the Farragut North and Farragut West stations isn’t very visible. Probably because it’s “virtual.” But with a trio of stripes (red, orange and blue), we could paint the entire path from below ground, up to the street and then back down.
  • Ben’s Chili Bowl. As a nod to this culinary institution, I suggest a stack of cheese fries. (Yes, it would require a lot of yellow paint.) As a bonus, when the artwork inevitably gets dirty, they’ll just look like chili cheese fries.
  • White House. What places can accurately claim to be “steps” from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.? Transform the adjoining crosswalks into footprint patterns. If a journey requires only those crosswalks — and none of the boring striped kind — you’re in a location that qualifies.

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