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Crosswalks in Minneapolis are going to look different

Here's why the city is making a switch.

Minneapolis' crosswalks are going to look more like zebras.

The city is repainting its roughly 3,000 marked crosswalks, going from the two parallel lines they are now to zebra stripes.

These zebra-striped crosswalks (also called continental crosswalk markings) are a lot easier for drivers to see, and the City of Minneapolis says this change will help make it safer for people to cross the street.

And even though they're not widespread right now in Minneapolis, they're actually one of the more common ways to mark a crosswalk in communities across the state, according to the city's Pedestrian Master Plan.

The goal of the master plan is to improve the walkability of the city. All crosswalk markings are expected to be painted like zebras by the end of the year.

Every corner is a crosswalk

In Minnesota, a legal crosswalk doesn't actually have to be marked, state law says. A crosswalk is an extension of the sidewalk across a road – whether it's marked or not – so every corner in the state should technically be considered a crosswalk, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Marked crosswalks, like the ones Minneapolis is repainting, are often used at intersections with stoplights, around schools, or at places where there's a lot of pedestrian traffic, MnDOT says.

These marked crosswalks aim to show pedestrians the best place to cross the street, and also warn drivers that pedestrians often cross there.

But deciding where to add a marked crosswalk isn't as simple as just painting lines on the road – a lot of research goes into it. If you're interested in all the details, read this MinnPost story.

Pedestrian fatalities in MN

Minnesota roads have been deadly for pedestrians lately. Last year, 60 pedestrians were killed – the most in 25 years. In 2015, there were 41 pedestrian fatalities on roads in Minnesota.

This trend is mirrored nationally. In 2016, an estimated 5,997 pedestrians were killed in crashes in the U.S., up 11 percent on 2015 when 5,376 pedestrians died on roads, according to a report released in March. The report blames distracting cellphones for part of that rise.

Drivers aren't the only ones at fault. The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety says about 16 percent of people who are killed on Minnesota roads every year were not crossing the street correctly.

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