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There was an especially sharp reduction with pedestrians and cyclists getting struck by cars, according to a new report. The art projects include things like intersection murals and colorfully painted crosswalks.
Vehicle crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists fell by 50% and total crashes by 17% on streets with artistic design features, according to a new report from Bloomberg Philanthropies that looks at 17 sites.
The report details an analysis comparing crash rates and real-time behavior of pedestrians and motorists at the asphalt art sites before and after the projects were installed. The study included at least two years of data. It also looked at video footage of motorists and pedestrians at five art projects installed in 2021 as part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative.
In addition to the crash reductions, the analysis found there was a:
- 37% decrease in the rate of crashes leading to injuries.
- 27% increase in the frequency of drivers immediately yielding to pedestrians with the right of way.
- 25% decrease in pedestrian crossings involving a conflict with drivers.
- 38% decrease in pedestrians crossing against the walk signal.
The number of people killed in traffic crashes while they were walking shot up 17% in the first half of 2021, compared to a similar period the year before, according to a March report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. The toll of pedestrians killed by drivers rose to 3,441 people in early 2021.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative provides funds and technical support for arts-driven street redesigns. The art projects are intended to improve safety by increasing the visibility of pedestrian spaces and crosswalks, promoting more walkability, and encouraging drivers to slow down and be more alert for pedestrians and cyclists.
The initiative provides up to $25,000 for projects in U.S. cities that use art and design “to improve street safety, revitalize public spaces, and engage residents.” In 2020, 16 cities received grants and in September 2021, 26 cities were awarded grants to install their projects in 2022-23.
Intersection murals, crosswalk art, painted plazas and sidewalk extensions have existed for years in American cities and are growing in popularity in communities across the world, the report says.
The transformation of the roads and intersections is paying off. For example, a new intersection in Kansas City, Missouri that received an Asphalt Arts Initiative grant reduced overall vehicle speeds by 45%, shortened pedestrian crossing distances by 50%, and reduced noise levels by 10 to 12 decibels, according to survey data from the city.
“Whether it’s the art alone or the stop signs alone, there’s a safety benefit, but combining the two is when the impact is fully realized," DuRon Netsell, the head of the Kansas City, Missouri-based Street Smarts Design + Build who worked on the intersection project, told Route Fifty last year. "They work tremendously well together.”
The Bloomberg Philanthropies report addresses the need for impact analysis by comparing crash rates in 17 cities in five states and the real-time behavior of pedestrians and motorists before and after the projects were installed. For more information from the report click here.
Andre Claudio is an assistant editor at Route Fifty.