Hey all! If you live in a small or medium sized town and have always thought the asphalt and concrete slabs of your streets wouldn’t be so bad if they just had a coat of paint, Bloomberg Philanthropies is making it possible to take your art to the streets.
Their Asphalt Art initiative is open to applications from communities with populations of 30,000-500,000 people. Deadline is December 12, 2019
The initiative will fund “visual interventions on roadways (intersections and crosswalks), pedestrian spaces (plazas and sidewalks), and vertical infrastructure (utility boxes, traffic barriers and underpasses).”
There is a CityLab piece on the project with gorgeous examples of what other cities around the world have done. Bloomberg Philanthropies also offers a free guide and promises to include project planning information like model contracts, permits and insurance. If you don’t intend to apply for a grant, but are contemplating a project along these lines, these resources could be valuable.
A type of project along these lines that has been very popular lately is painting crosswalks with the goal of making pedestrians safer in the theory drivers will tend to slow down when driving across/near an image that doesn’t conform to familiar road markings. If that is an appealing notion, you should be aware that the Federal Highway Administration frowns on crosswalk art and actively requests cities remove them.
The Kentucky removal particularly peeved Lydon, who said that piece of street art saved lives.
“That was at an intersection with almost 10 crashes a year,” he said. “After it went in, it went down to zero. But the state DOT there too them to get rid of it because of the letter from [the federal authorities].”
And locals living near new street art in Rochester, New York told local radio station WXXI that the rainbow designs there calmed traffic on streets that were less than pedestrian friendly.
But the Highway Administration doesn’t see it that way, ruling in its report that “crosswalk art is actually contrary to the goal of increased safety and most likely could be a contributing factor to a false sense of security for both motorists and pedestrians.”
There are still a lot of other type of projects one could undertake. There are a number of pictures of pedestrian plazas and parking lots in the articles, but I think vertical structures like utility boxes, traffic barriers and underpasses are particularly ripe for development. I passed this information on to some people I know who were eyeing a train underpass I frequently walk under. I think more people would feel safer walking through there if there was more light and color.