BERN - The world-renowned Austrian firm Swarovski doesnt only produce jewelry and small crystal figures. For more than 40 years, it has made micro glass beads for street markings. In 1969 Manfred Swarovski founded M. Swarovski GmbH in Amstetten, Austria, to make the beads. Today, the group known as Swarco AG has more than 80 companies in 20 countries and employs 2,600 people.
In Bern, Switzerland, where four people have died in recent weeks as they crossed in pedestrian crossings, there has been an outcry to improve the safety of crossings something the city had already started planning for this past summer. Crossings are now being repainted a different yellow, and next spring they will be resurfaced.
The city is planning to mix Swarovski glass beads into the surfacing. They reflect car lights so crossings are more visible at night and when its raining or foggy, said Stephan Meyer, who heads the road markings department at the citys depart of civil engineering.
Using glass beads is quite commonplace, says Meyer, but what is particular about the Swarco beads is that they are both very resistant and very reflective. He called them sensational beads.
But they come at a price, and according to Meyer the cost of road markings in the city of Bern will rise by 5%. In 2011, the city shelled out 500,000 Swiss francs for marking maintenance.
In a few years, all the citys pedestrian crossing are expected to be aglitter with Swarovski beads.
Read the full story in German by Lisa Stalder
Photo - Mr. T in DC
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