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"Crosswalk Zebras" team up to help Memphians across crosswalks, increase pedestrian safety

With more than a dozen pedestrian crashes this year, organizations are working to decrease the number each day.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With at least 15 pedestrians crashes in the first three months of 2023, five of them being deadly and another five being critical – Memphis needs as much pedestrian safety as it can get.

Thursday began a new initiative to keep pedestrians safe when crossing the street. Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital joined Memphis Medical District Collaborative to kick-start their ‘Crosswalk Zebras’ event.

It might seem odd but organizers say they got the idea from Bolivia in South America. They use zebras to help raise awareness of people crossing their busy streets. The zebra stripes are supposed to mimic the black and white lines on crosswalks and to stand out to drivers.

The initiative comes on the heels of yet another pedestrian death earlier in the week.

Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s Sydney Sepulveda said it’s something silly bringing a lot of eyes to something serious.

“Memphis is the third most dangerous city for pedestrians,” Sepulveda said. “So this is really a fun way to bring awareness to this issue, catch the eye of drivers. Make them you know, think more about people that are cross the street and the challenges they experience everyday.”

Community members described the event as “great, awesome, fun and silly.”

While MMDC is mainly focusing on the medical district right now, they’re also working with the City of Memphis to improve pedestrian safety everywhere.

“We’re doing a lot of sidewalk repair, we’d love to see more crosswalks and just infrastructure that’s really focused on pedestrians and people that are walking and biking - experiencing the street outside of a car,” Sepulveda said.

As the number of pedestrian crashes continues to climb, organizers stress the importance of teaching your kids best practices when crossing the street – like wearing bright colors and only crossing at crosswalks.

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