Here’s What Those Stickers on the Sidewalk Are All About

They're trying to bring pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists together.

Photo by Madeline Bilis

A sticker along Mass. Ave. / Photo by Madeline Bilis

In addition to the gruff “wait” instruction from pedestrian crossing signals, crosswalks across the city are declaring a new message in the form of stickers.

Street stickers were installed at more than 30 intersections over the weekend. Why? To try to get pedestrians, bikers, and drivers on the same team.

A recent spike in pedestrian crashes and fatalities in the city drove the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, or the EOPSS, to kickstart the sticky initiative. The EOPSS worked with the City of Boston, WalkBoston, and several other bicycle and pedestrian groups to generate more awareness of street safety.

“The concept is that we want to try to get people, whether they’re pedestrians, bicyclists, or drivers, to be thinking a little bit more about the other person over there not as being the enemy but just another person,” says Jeff Larason, director of the Massachusetts Highway Safety Division.

By reviewing a list of locations with high pedestrian activity, the EOPSS determined where to place the messages. Most of them include a story or a person’s name in an effort to humanize street safety, though the names aren’t of actual victims.

“The whole genesis of the idea is that there’s this battle from people who are driving and people who are pedestrians. We’re trying to bridge that gap,” says Larason. “That person who’s on a bike? That’s not just some non-entity. That’s a person, a human being who has a name.”

Different messages are aimed at different groups—some encourage pedestrians to look both ways when crossing. One sticker along Massachusetts Avenue attempts to highlight the importance of school crossing signs to drivers. All of the stickers include the phrase “Life is worth a second look.”

The decals can be found in almost every neighborhood in Boston proper, with a few outliers in Allston, Brighton, Roxbury, East Boston, and Jamaica Plain. From Washington Street at Downtown Crossing to Huntington Avenue near Northeastern, the stickers have been placed on sidewalks leading to crosswalks as well as on a few recycling bins to increase visibility.

Similar-looking ads will soon appear on the backs of buses, inside public transit, and on billboards around the state in order to reach travelers of all types.

A sticker along Mass. Ave. / Photo by Yiqing Shao

A sticker along Mass. Ave. / Photo by Yiqing Shao