New Curb Bulbs at Burke-Gilman Trail Pop with Colorful Design

The Burke-Gilman Trail is getting a burst of color at the once grey intersection with 40th Ave NE.

With just a bit of paint, street markings, and posts, we can create low-cost curb bulbs where data and community members tell us traffic safety is a concern. Curb bulbs are effective at reducing the number and severity of traffic collisions by increasing the visibility of vulnerable users – people walking and biking – and decreasing the distance they have to travel to get across the street.

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New curb bulb at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

Northeast Seattle Greenways and Seattle Children’s Hospital teamed up and were winners of Seattle Neighborhood Greenways PARK(ing) Day Plus design competition in 2015 for their original design of painted curb bulbs at this location.

We then went to work to make the design permanent.

How do we decide what colors to use to really make them stand out? For this crossing, we wanted to let people in the neighborhood help decide colors and design.

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We used this ballot to ask residents and trail users which design they preferred. The option with blue circles won the informal contest.

 

The installation started with laying down colorful thermoplastic, which we blasted with propane torches to make it stick to the concrete. Then we added new posts and signs.

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Laying out and trimming the new street marking material at 40th Ave NE and the Burke-Gilman Trail.

“Bringing color and pattern to the ground plane elevates and enlivens an ordinary bit of city infrastructure,” says Kristen Ramirez, who manages public art projects for SDOT and Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture. One result of the new curb bulbs design, she said, is to “bring pause or wonder to people passing by. The circle pattern could evoke many ideas: ripples on water, constellations, textile patterns, and more.”

It isn’t just an artistic statement though.

Traffic engineering and safety work uses bright colors and patterns, which this project has in spades, to grab driver’s attention and communicate that there are people walking and biking. Extending the curb into the street reduces the width of the travel lanes, which causes people to slow down.

Supported by traffic studies showing that curb bulbs increase yielding to pedestrians, these improvements are one of the many tools in our Vision Zero plan to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Seattle by 2030.

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