Today’s Solutions: September 22, 2023

A number of European communities will soon have the opportunity to give their roads a little creative flair.

The Asphalt Art Initiative

Nineteen European cities will each get a grant of $25,000 from the Asphalt Art Initiative, a project that aims to increase pedestrian safety by painting eye-catching murals on the pavement near crosswalks and along curbs. At CityLab, a gathering for urban leaders organized by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Aspen Institute, the project’s sponsorship was announced on Monday, October 10 in Amsterdam.

Among the areas chosen for the program are cities in Kosovo, Italy, and Belgium, all of which will have better pedestrian spaces. Murals will be painted at crosswalks and crossroads in Istanbul and Varna, Bulgaria. More than 30 grants have already been funded by the program in the US and pilot projects in Europe.

How art enhances pedestrian safety

Recent US initiatives have produced results that demonstrate the effectiveness of artistic interventions in enhancing pedestrian safety, particularly when combined with other traffic-calming devices like bollards and modified curbs. Following the art installation, speeds at a crash-prone crossroads in Kansas City, Missouri, were reduced by 45 percent. In Baltimore, Maryland, the project’s colored curbs encouraged 41 percent more automobiles to give the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Although European cities have much higher overall traffic safety ratings than American cities, the program’s creators expect that the painted roadways will help further minimize risks for pedestrians and bicycles.

“From our groundbreaking work in New York to projects across the US and now expanding to Europe, the Asphalt Art Initiative continues to highlight new possibilities for city streets,” said former New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner and current principal for transportation at Bloomberg Associates Janette Sadik-Khan. “Projects like these not only connect people, but make streets safer, and we encourage cities everywhere to paint their own transportation masterpieces.”

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