A study conducted by Bloomberg Philanthropies examined 17 sites over two years, before and after they were painted with “asphalt art” (art on surfaces such as roads, sidewalks and underpasses). A reduction of 17% in the total number of accidents and a reduction in the severity of accidents were found: There were 37% fewer accidents resulting in injuries and 50% fewer collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists.
“The art itself is often also intended to improve safety by increasing the visibility of pedestrian areas and pedestrian crossings, promoting more accessible public spaces and encouraging drivers to slow down and be wary of pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable road users,” the study said.
The places, distributed in five states, were intersections or pedestrian crossings in the middle of the block. Approximately half of the sites were considered “urban core,” defined as high-density areas (including two in New York City), a quarter were adjacent zones, and the last quarter were suburban.
In addition to reporting the actual rate of collisions at these locations, the study also monitored the behavior of drivers and pedestrians, noting that both groups had less risky behaviors in areas with works of art – such as pedestrians crossing without a “walk” sign and drivers not giving up. pedestrians until the last moment. (Drivers were 27% more likely to give in to pedestrians when there was artwork on the road.)
As of now, asphalt art is not allowed under the Federal Highway Association’s rules on traffic signs and signals, a lengthy set of guidelines that dictate the colors needed to paint pedestrian crossings, curbs and lines. The decision to lay asphalt requires local officials to make exceptions.
The Bloomberg Philanthropies report calls for the adoption of asphalt art into federal road painting specifications and provides further justification for its “Asphalt Art Initiative” project, which donated money to cities in the United States and Europe to create 42 road art.
The discovery of the safety benefits of asphalt art complements the idea that it can help build community.
“Why not take advantage of projects like this to actually involve people, create a sense that public space belongs to everyone?” Said Kate D. Levin, a former New York City Department of Cultural Affairs commissioner who now oversees art programs for Bloomberg Philanthropies, in an interview with New York Times last year.
The city of New York has also implemented paving programs in the past. However, instead of using them for traffic safety, many projects are aimed at pedestrian areas, such as Doyers Traffic Street in Chinatown.