|Cities can sometimes feel like concrete jungles with ugly paved roads taking up stretches of space alongside buildings and cars. Not only are these gray slabs of asphalt uninspiring to look at, but they can also cause people to carelessly speed through, paying no attention to their surroundings or to pedestrians.
With a little paint and some community spirit, street art is brightening up roads across the world. Bloomberg Philanthropies, which runs the “Asphalt Art Initiative,” is funding creative pursuits that transform urban areas, including roads, pedestrian sites, and public infrastructure. Street art has finally been recognized as a benefit to the local community.
One reason for this is that feel-good murals do more than just improve the aesthetics of an area. They may actually be saving lives.
Take Kansas City, Missouri, as an awesome example. By sprucing up a dangerous intersection with bold and colorful art, the city cut the average speeds of drivers by almost half. If that’s not impressive enough, 63 percent of pedestrians claimed they felt “very safe” once the mural was complete, compared to just 23 percent before.
These incredible outcomes can be seen elsewhere, with 22 of Bloomberg’s “asphalt art” sites boasting statistics that show a 50 percent reduction in crashes involving pedestrians. Similarly, pedestrian accidents that resulted in injury were cut by over a third.
It’s statistics like these that give credibility to the campaign to add color to our urban landscapes. Our leaders and policy makers are more likely to back these projects when they can see the measurable benefits they bring to the local community.
Community investors like Bloomberg help make road murals a reality, backing more than 40 projects across the United States and a handful in Europe, with plans to expand across Europe in the future.
You can find electrifying murals on pedestrian crossings at Tottenham Court Road in London, courtesy of British-Nigerian designer Yinka Ilori. In Glasgow, the entrance to Anderson Station was transformed with dazzling colors designed by Scottish artist Gabriella Marcella.