- Vigilante heroes or vandals tampering with public property? You decide.
Don’t you sometimes wish that cities would add more crosswalks in places where they’re clearly needed? A group of citizen activists from Los Angeles sure did.
That’s why they decided to paint their own. A group called Crosswalk Collective LA (CCLA) grabbed cans of paint and made their own crosswalks.
In late March, the CCLA painted four new crosswalks at the intersection of Romaine St and N Serrano Ave in East Hollywood. They’ve since added several crosswalks more.
“The city doesn’t keep us safe, so we keep us safe,” the CCLA explained their motivations in a tweet.
The group says it’s tired of waiting for the City of Los Angeles to add crosswalks where they say they’re needed. With the guerrilla crosswalks, they hope to increase pedestrian safety in the city.
Sure enough, the stunt did prompt the city into action. They’ve now removed the first crosswalk.
But the group probably knew that would happen. After all, their crosswalks are unauthorized in the eyes of the city’s authorities.
Dressed Like Pros
The saga of the surprise crosswalks seems to begin on May 19. That’s when the CCLA added the first crossing to Romaine and Serrano.
Over the next four days, they added three more until they’d covered every road approaching the intersection. Photos on the CCLA Twitter account show pictures of people clad in hi-viz vests and hardhats holding Stop signs.
Anybody passing by would’ve probably thought that they were actual sanctioned city workers painting crosswalks.
But the CCLA didn’t stop there. Several other crosswalks have followed the original four.
On April 12, the group published photos of two new crosswalks at San Marino and South Serrano. In another tweet, they said they’d also painted one on Rosemont and Marathon, Silverlake, a day earlier.
The latest effort by the group came on May 3. That’s when they announced they’d added another two crosswalks at Hawthorn and Vista, Hollywood.
The CCLA members sure have been busy little bees.
‘A Powerful Statement’
It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing for the vigilante crosswalk painters, though. According to the group, several of its members received $250 fines in April for causing “injury to public property.”
The citations haven’t stopped them, though. If anything, they’ve only ramped up their efforts.
“Los Angeles’s streets are deadly for pedestrians and cyclists. Until City Council acts, we paint crosswalks,” the group says on their Twitter.
The CCLA hosts a form on their website that allows LA residents to request the group to paint a guerrilla crosswalk. And people have been using it — three of the crosswalks they’ve painted were requests.
Indeed, it seems the CCLA isn’t alone in wishing Los Angeles would do more for its pedestrians. According to LAist, the city’s residents have been growing increasingly frustrated with the growing number of traffic deaths.
Data from the City of LA shows that 132 pedestrians died in car collisions in 2021, marking a 73% increase over the past decade.
“It’s interesting that people did it as a response against the city government because the city government wasn’t doing it. That’s probably a powerful statement,” a local identified as Kiddest told LAist.
A Costly Effort
Now, the CCLA members have taken their efforts one step further. They’ve published a complete DIY crosswalk painting guide on their website.
Do note that painting guerrilla crosswalks is illegal. If you decide to use the guide, well, that’s your decision — we take no responsibility for anything that might happen.
In any case, it appears the CCLA is incurring a decent bit of costs from their efforts. According to the guide, the professional stencil for the crosswalks alone costs $150.
Add to that $150 in other necessary equipment and $50 in paint per crosswalk, and the bills quickly start racking up.
Remove the Crosswalks, Add Some Circles
On May 20, about two months after the CCLA painted their first crosswalk, the City of Los Angeles finally acted. But not in the way the CCLA or the residents hoped.
A video posted on the group’s Twitter shows a city work crew removing the guerrilla sidewalks. An LA Department of Transportation spokesperson Colin Sweeney told LAist that any “unauthorized alteration to a street is subject to removal.”
But it’s not all bad. The city may have removed the crosswalks, but they did add a traffic circle to Romaine and Serrano. The streets have also received additional Stop signs.
Locals, however, aren’t happy with the city. Sure, they may have added the traffic circle, but they feel more effort is needed all over the city.
“The fact we have to rely on groups like Crosswalk Collective LA for infrastructure that makes our streets safer is indicative of how the city has let us down,” said Damien Burke, an East Hollywood resident.
For their part, the CCLA has no plans to stop.
“Let it be clear: we will not be deterred or discouraged. We will continue painting crosswalks to save lives,” the group announced.