Anything that brings more attention to pedestrians is good for cities — it helps walkers feel protected, slows cars down, and makes everyone more aware of their surroundings. Around the world we’re seeing quirky takes on walking signals that not only add a bit of whimsy to the street, they also help keep all citizens more safe.
Astro Boy | Tokyo
One of the newest examples of a crosswalk with personality is also the most adorable: City Lab reports on a new signal depicting Astro Boy, a famous manga character in Japan, which has been installed in a section of Yokohama that wants to be known as “Robot Town”.
Dancing Traffic Light | Lisbon, Portugal
We’ve professed our love for this urban intervention by Daimler AC Smart which allowed people to step into an unseen box and dance, their movements animating the “red man” to the great delight of the people waiting to cross the street.
Hans Christian Andersen | Odense, Denmark
Picture: Kate Goes Some Places
The famous Danish writer who wrote The Little Mermaid hailed from this city, hence the dapper gent telling people when it’s safe to cross the street.
“Running Man” | Guadalajara, Mexico
Both an eye-catching signal and a useful tool for determining just how much time you have to cross the street, these signals in Mexico are animated, their characters slowly transitioning from walking to running as the countdown ticks down.
Ampelmann | Berlin, Germany
Picture: And here. We. Go.
The ampelmann is an endearing part of Berlin’s landscape. The adorable character was designed in 1961 by traffic psychologist Karl Peglau in response to a study that people responded more quickly to attractive symbols. It’s spawned an entire visual language of more well-designed walking signals, as well as variations in different German neighbourhoods.
Ampelwoman | Dresden, Germany
In the name of gender equality, some neighbourhoods in Germany and The Netherlands have created their own feminine takes on the ampelmann. This is actually a trend across Europe, as some cities have opted to change all their walking symbols over to women.
Sophie | Utrecht, The Netherlands
Picture: The City Fix
This female character rules the streets in Utrecht. A ponytailed Sophie signals to walkers when it’s OK to cross. Again, the female figure has been proven to get pedestrians to pay attention. You can see dozens more “walking men” from different countries as part of Maya Barkai’s exhibition Walking Men Worldwide.