Crosswalk vigilante beats city to the punch

PITTSBURGH - A crosswalk vigilante has beaten city road crews to the punch — and to the paint — by marking crosswalks at what residents contend is a dangerous intersection for pedestrians in Pittsburgh's Polish Hill neighborhood.

The lines were painted about three weeks ago and have drawn rave reviews from residents. One posted this message on a bulletin board at a nearby park: "Dear crosswalk vigilantes: Thank you! You made my day. A neighbor."

City officials, however, aren't thrilled with the temporary solution.

Public Works director Rob Kaczorowski said crews were planning to install larger stop signs and paint crosswalks in a few weeks. City officials had previously twice denied requests for crosswalks since 2009, claiming there wasn't enough pedestrian traffic to warrant them, before repeated requests from residents changed their mind.

Kaczorowski said he's never seen anyone take crosswalk painting into their own hands in his 32 years with the city.

"It's kind of crazy to do something like that," he said. "The person who did that would be part of the liability if there's an accident there."

But resident Mary Hughes said the vigilante with a paintbrush is characteristic of the cramped neighborhood known for its narrow streets and homey, working-class ethic.

"Polish Hill people are unique," Hughes said. "I'm proud of this neighborhood, of people who don't hesitate to do what's right."

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