Fears have been raised that motorists might fail to recognise a 3-D crossing in North Dunedin, putting pedestrians at risk.

The Dunedin City Council had two three-dimensional crossings painted on Clyde St this month.

The paintings create an optical illusion, appearing 3-D to motorists while being flat to pedestrians. The crossing at the intersection of Clyde St and Union St East appears as feet walking under zebra stripes, while the crossing north of the Leith River looks like rocks in a river.

Dave Cockerill, of Dunedin, said he was happy with the crossing with the feet, as it looked similar to a traditional pedestrian crossing, with appropriate warning signs either side, and motorists were stopping to allow pedestrians to cross.

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However, the absence of traditional lines and warning signs at the river crossing confused motorists and many were failing to stop for pedestrians.

"I wonder about the liability if somebody got hit."

The 3-D paintings were "beautiful work" but street art was better suited to walls rather than roads, especially if it put the safety of pedestrians at risk.

NZ Transport Agency senior safety engineer Roy Johnston said the 3-D crossing with the feet met the requirements of the rules for zebra crossings in New Zealand.

"The rules set out the dimensions of the white lines and accompanying signs and road markings. They do not specify the background colours or textures."

The crossing with the image of rocks and water was designed to slow people down and met the agency's requirements for courtesy crossings.

As the area was busy with students and users of Logan Park, Forsyth Barr Stadium and University Oval "it was good to see some proactive and creative ways of alerting drivers to the presence of people crossing the road and a way of alerting students to the safer places to cross the road".

A police spokeswoman said police were consulted about the new crossings.

Motorists must take care and drive defensively when they saw any pedestrian on a road or at any crossing.

"Any crashes involving a car and pedestrian are investigated, looking at all the facts no matter if it has occurred on a traditional pedestrian crossing or not."

Council transport acting group manager Richard Saunders said the crossings were part of safety improvements in Clyde St.

"The 3-D crossings are a great way of addressing safety concerns while adding some fun and interest at the same time."

Similar 3-D crossings had been used successfully overseas, he said.

The final cost was expected to be about $140,000 for speed humps and 3-D crossings in Clyde St and safety work in Mercer St, he said.