Street Murals Slow Traffic

Cities nationally are embracing a low-cost way to boost traffic safety and reduce pedestrian fatalities: They’re installing street murals.

Compared to installing roundabouts or narrowing streets, asphalt art is a quick and inexpensive way to slow cars and make motorists more aware of their surroundings. Fast Company magazine labeled the concept a “ridiculously simple” way to improve safety.

The low-cost concept has been championed by Bloomberg Philanthropies and by practitioners such as Anthony Garcia, principal at Street Plans. Bloomberg Philanthropies has given a number of cities grants of up to $25,000 for street murals.

“We see asphalt art as a core tactic in our tactical urbanism toolbox,” says Garcia.

These interventions can be done for as little as a few thousand dollars, and Garcia says the results can be dramatic. Adding a few coats of paint to a roadway can transform how motorists view the surfaces.

For example, in Reno, NV, a 15,000-square-foot asphalt mural downtown incorporated a variety of local themes — railroads, the state flower, and downtown landmarks. Bloomberg Philanthropies funded the project.

In Norfolk, VA, Norfolk Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia partnered to create three asphalt art murals around the city.

And in Asheville, NC, a block-long butterfly mural downtown was designed by Sound Mind Creative and painted by volunteers.

More on asphalt art appears in the November issue of Downtown Idea Exchange newsletter. Click below to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.

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