You can reclaim the streets from cars and give them back to the people, but if those streets still look like plain-old asphalt roads, then people won’t feel as inclined to spend time there. In a bid to make cities more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly, Bloomberg Philanthropies announced this week that it will fund the creation of 10 street murals in 10 US cities, as well as track the safety, the economic, and the civic impact of these projects.
The Asphalt Art Initiative, as it’s called, will award 10 small or mid-sized cities with grants of up to $25,000 to create colorful murals on streets, intersections, and crosswalks, or vertical surfaces of transportation infrastructure like utility boxes, traffic barriers, and highway underpasses. Cities that apply must have populations ranging from 30,000 to 500,000 and must implement the project by the end of 2020.
Beyond making cities more visually appealing, these rather inexpensive projects can help improve pedestrian safety by making it clear where people can go and cars can’t. With the street murals set to finish by 2020, we won’t have to wait long to see how these projects will look.