And now for something completely different: a Silly Crosswalk

In Facebookland, it’s all so simple. There’s a deus ex machina for every societal ill – solar roadways, skyscraper farms, pollution-eating robots… and so on. You wonder how these miracle fixes might fare in the real word, and why so few seem to come into common use. Not that I oppose these devices – some of my best imaginary friends are friendly giant robots.

The other day a friend posted a video of the “Silly Crosswalk” in Ørje, Norway. There are others like it elsewhere, too. They seem to work, but it’s the easy alt-reality of the Interwebs, so you never know.

Silly Crosswalks are places where it is socially acceptable to walk silly as you cross the street (see proposal, below).

silly-sign-1I’d seen this before, but as the comments of “Let’s do this!” piled on, it seemed like something we could at least try here in Arcata. It doesn’t require unproven technology, just some signs and willful silliness.

So I asked representatives of Arcata Main Street (AMS) and Community Pride and Peace (CPP), and they didn’t see any problems. (AMS later stated that they’ll need to take a formal vote before endorsing the project, so they’re out for now, sorry.) (UPDATE: Main Street took a vote, and they're back in. – Ed.) Then I went around asking businesses around Eighth and G streets if they had any problems with the idea. Of a dozen or so  asked, none had any objections.

KevbadgeThen I took the proposal to the Transportation Safety Committee (TSC), which advises the City Council on transportation matters, at its regular monthly meeting. Everyone liked the idea in concept, though as I expected, city staff will have to check with the city’s insurance carrier, REMIF, to see if this increases liability in some way. We also have to work out details of the signage.

The best part of the meeting is, unfortunately, lost to history. That was when, after the Silly Crosswalk proposal had been discussed, City Manager Karen Diemer and three other city employees marched through the Council Chamber in incredibly silly fashion. It was the best thing to happen at City Hall since I got the council to “plank” on the dais. Alas, I didn’t have the camera ready, so all we have are memories. That is, until and if we get a real Silly Crosswalk.

I expect we’ll get an update at the next TSC meeting, which takes place Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 736 F St. Below is the proposal presented last week to TSC and local businesses. If you have any comments, send them to the TSC, and/or the Union.

In my wildest dreams, we’d even have silly crosswalking at the designated site, wherever it ends up being, written into the Arcata Municipal Code, with violations subject to a fine. The exemptions to silly walking would be if you can’t or don't want to. But that’s not bloody likely to happen, so I’ll have to content myself with the knowledge that at some point in our future, we might well be able to walk as sillily as we ever wanted to across Eighth Street, in the full knowledge and comfort that it is officially sanctioned and socially acceptable.



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