Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded 26 cities up to $25,000 each last week to install asphalt art projects that improve street safety, engage local residents and update public spaces.
It created the Asphalt Art Initiative in response to the increasing number of cities using art as a low-cost way to improve safety and revitalize local spaces through updates to plazas, sidewalks, crosswalks, intersections and other transportation infrastructure.
This year’s winning projects, which will be installed in 2022 and 2023, include:
- Pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements in Atlanta; Baltimore; Houston; Kansas City, Missouri; Long Beach, California; Memphis, Tennessee; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Louis; Tucson, Arizona; and Wilmington, Delaware.
- Pedestrian plazas and public space enhancements in Birmingham, Alabama; Denver; Detroit; Fairbanks, Alaska; Newark, New Jersey; Providence, Rhode Island; and Syracuse, New York.
- Intersection and crosswalk murals in Billings, Montana; Chicago; East Providence, Rhode Island; Huntington, West Virginia; Kodiak, Alaska; New Brunswick, New Jersey; Niagara Falls, New York; Starkville, Mississippi; and Tallahassee, Florida
Of the 16 grantees who received funding from The Asphalt Art Initiative last year, 12 have since implemented their projects, overhauling a combined 86,476 square feet of street space with art with the input of about 5,000 residents and 170 artists.
Smart Cities Dive compiled a roundup of photos from nine of those projects, from Reno, Nevada, to Trenton, New Jersey:
Kansas City: Local leaders improved pedestrian safety by redesigning an intersection, reducing overall vehicle vehicle speeds by 45% and shortening the length of pedestrian crossing distances by 52%. Those changes improved the proportion of pedestrians who reported feeling "very safe" at the intersection from 23% to 63%.
Reno, Nevada: The city overhauled 18,000 square feet of underused concrete, creating a plaza for events, green space and festivals. The city also engaged local residents by tapping 300 volunteers to paint the space over the course of a week.
Chattanooga, Tennessee: The city's Department of Transportation and other local partners designed a welcoming gathering space in close proximity to a new supermarket in an area that "has historically been a food desert." A team of artists, residents and volunteers also established "community spaces" surrounding the mural, in part to encourage foot traffic.
Pittsburgh: The city and the Friendship neighborhood community group teamed up to redesign a five-way intersection. The project extended sidewalks, added crosswalks and updated stop sign placements to make the area more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly.
Columbus, Indiana: Local leaders helped transform a streetscape to enhance safety and walkability and increase foot traffic to the local business district, supporting a local goal to improve economic growth and social connections through placemaking and art.
Durham, North Carolina: The city's transportation department and other local partners aimed to provide a safer route to school by adding art to the crosswalks in front of a local elementary school and reducing nearby speeds.
Norfolk, Virginia: The city selected three project sites based on traffic safety, police data, pavement conditions, local diversity and resident interest. It plans to make the sites event hubs, with police officers attending the events to help build trust among among community members.
Saginaw, Michigan: The city installed murals at three intersections, in part to support local businesses and encourage more visitors downtown.
Trenton, New Jersey: The city and other local partners installed a mural and a bike rack at the Trenton Transit Center. Local leaders hope the mural will make the area more welcoming and encourage more people to bike or walk to the busy transit center.