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Pedestrian safety should be the priority for new street art

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We’re seeing lots more public art in La Crosse these days. We’re seeing pieces built long ago moved to new locations after being refurbished. We’ve seen art painted onto the walls of downtown buildings, including the Midwest Family building. The latest plan for public art that is being discussed would put art not on a building, but on a city street. The city is considering painting a mural on the street, at the intersection of 7th and King streets downtown. That is sure to not be without some controversy. If the city is going to put art on a street, particularly at that location, it should use that art to provide a safe crossing for pedestrians. Perhaps a design that makes very clear that pedestrians trying to cross there have the right of way. The city has gone great lengths to establish pedestrian and bicycle friendly streets, with the construction of traffic circles and bump outs. Just this year the city did that on King Street. But trying to cross 7th on King can be an adventure, because cars come whipping around the roundabout at 7th and Cass, and floor it as they head north. There are white lines marking pedestrian crossings at 7th and King, but the paint has long ago faded. If the city is interested in pedestrian safety, they should make sure that when spring comes they should make repainting those pedestrian crossings a priority. New art is nice, but let’s make sure that does not become a further distraction for drivers who already seem oblivious to those simply trying to safely cross the street.

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