This 3-D Crosswalk Is More Than Just An Optical Illusion — It Could Be Key To Saving Lives

This could be a game changer.

Optical illusions might be all fun and games for the art world, but in a few countries, they're a matter of safety. 

Montreal recently became one of the few cities in the world to implement a 3-D crosswalk, an optical illusion using white, black, and gray paint to make it look as though the white lines are hovering on the street. Its purpose is to slow drivers down on the road in order to prevent pedestrian accidents. 

The Outremont borough of Montreal installed a 3-D crosswalk earlier this month, noting that it chose a corner with a history of pedestrian accidents over the last decade, but also because it is a slower traffic area. 

Mindy Pollak, a borough councilor in Outremont, told the Montreal Gazette, "It's going to be interesting to see if, statistically, it actually does reduce the number of accidents."

This traffic-based optical illusion was experimented in countries such as India, Mozambique, and Iceland before it made its way to Canada. And all of these countries had one goal in common: to save lives.

When 3-D crosswalks came to Iceland, it was all thanks to environmental commissioner Ralf Trylla after he saw what India had done with the idea. So Trylla recruited Vegamálun GÍH, a street painting company, to get the job done in the town of Ísafjörður. 

Gautur Ívar, owner of Vegamálun GÍH, told A Plus that painting the crosswalk only took two hours after the company met with Trylla to hash out the details of the project. 

When it came to the obstacles of painting a 3-D crosswalk, the company's concern was mostly focused on its size.

"There are many challenges but the main is to decide how big you want [the illusion to be]," he says. 

Ívar noted that since the 3-D crosswalk was painted in Ísafjörður, Vegamálun GÍH has painted another one in Breiðdalsvík, located in east Iceland. Ívar also said that people have become more aware about the importance of traffic safety thanks to the innovative crosswalks. 

And it doesn't hurt that business is looking up and creative juices are flowing for Vegamálun GÍH.

"The company went from road markers to specialist[s] with this project since it has gone viral," Ívar says. "Now we get [a lot] more special and more fun projects to work with."

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