Jim McMahon

How do you get cars to slow down for pedestrians? This “floating” crosswalk seems to be doing the trick in one Icelandic town. Officials in Ísafjörur (pronounced EES-uh-fyor-der) didn’t want to install traditional speed bumps, which can harm car suspensions and increase air pollution when engines struggle to get over the raised asphalt at slow speeds. So they created this clever optical illusion instead. A local company was tapped to stencil and paint the precise geometric shapes required to achieve the effect. Iceland isn’t the only place experimenting with alternatives to speed bumps: Cities in India, Canada, and France have painted images on roads of children at play or other hazards to try to deter speeding. But not everyone is applauding the trend. Mike Spack, a fellow at the Institute of Transportation Engineers in Washington, D.C., points out that the majority of accidents involving pedestrians are caused not by drivers going too fast but by the pedestrians themselves—who are often distracted by their cellphones. “This focuses on drivers instead of pedestrians,” he says, “so it seems to be a solution looking for a problem.”