The first day I was in La Paz, I was slightly bamboozled to see Zebras working the major intersection near one of the key plazas in the city – the Plaza San Francisco. I learned about the Zebras de La Paz (or Zebras for peace – depending on which interpretation you want to use) the next day on the Red Cap Walking Tour of La Paz, and it is a very cool story 🙂
Anyone who has been to La Paz knows that the traffic is absolutely insane and traffic signs are in no way respected. So in 2001, the government started the Zebra initiative to raise road safety awareness and provide some extra “protection” for pedestrians at busy crossings. The zebras have since won the hearts (if not the minds – the traffic is still crazy) of the La Paz population, as while they are waiting for the traffic to come to a halt they can often be seen dancing and interacting with pedestrians.
To make the initiative even cooler, the people who become Zebras are often disenfranchised youth who may otherwise have been headed down the wrong path. So a social initiative in several ways.
You (yes, even tourists) can even become a Zebra for a day if you would like – you just have to be willing to be happy and active and interact with others! Here is one person’s story about their experience as a Zebra for a day in La Paz. And there’s always Wikipedia’s entry if you want to know a bit more 🙂
Or – you can just watch them in action 🙂