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Tactical Urbanism Jersey City Walks banner

Jersey City, New Jersey. Credit: Street Plans(external link)

Many urban intersections were designed with turning ease of large vehicles as a priority ahead of pedestrian safety and amenity.

Using a mix of cheap tools; paint, separators, planters, furniture etc can improve safety by slowing traffic and making more space for pedestrians.

Narrowing streets and corners by using cheap and quick interventions is a good way to bring speeds down. For safety improvements, the technique is useful to get operating speeds of up to 55kph down closer to 30-40kph. In low-risk streets that are already slower than 30kph, the technique can cheaply add space for pedestrians.

Paint-outs and channelising is generally a low-cost way to improve safety, however there’s an opportunity to be creative in the space created and improve the liveability of the street. The technique can be applied at intersections to slow vehicles as they enter a street and make it safer for pedestrians to cross. Or midblock where a visual narrowing will help slow traffic on straight streets.

The rules

If a new kerb line is set with paint or similar, and the new space has elements (e.g. cones, planters, flexiposts, barriers etc) to prevent vehicles entering it, the Traffic Control Devices Rule considers it footpath space and there are no specific restrictions on use of colour, paint, furniture or signage. However, as always be sure not to use any regulatory signs (e.g. STOP, GIVE WAY, etc.) in the space created that might be misinterpreted by vehicle operators in the traffic lanes.

Paint-outs or channelising changes may or may not make changes to parking or other markings which require a traffic resolution and consultation under the Local Government Act. Check with your Traffic Resolutions team to work out how to make the change as quickly and easily as possible.

Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004
Local Government Act 1974(external link)

International examples

Porto Alegre World Resources Institute Brazil

Channelisation and painting improving a hostile intersection in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Credit: WRI Brazil(external link)

Medellin Council channelising

Channelising. Credit: Medellin Council