Let's Paint the Town safer.
As part of Oakland's new transportation strategic plan, one of the top priorities is to “Integrate art and playfulness into Oakland’s infrastructure.” As we've recently learned, the Great Streets Division is responsible for following up and developing a formal program
This priority fits right in with our Play Oakland belief that playful places build better bonds—among kids, neighbors, and communities—and those relationships are the foundation for thriving neighborhoods. It also fits in with our safe streets plan to improve pedestrian safety, particularly around schools.
Painted intersections and playful crosswalks are fun, attractive, and achieve multiple goals. Not only are they a traffic calming intervention, but when completed in collaboration with residents they can also increase neighborhood pride and strengthen community stewardship.
A few community-driven painted streets have popped up around town over the years, but now that art + play + infrastructure is an explicit priority, we're hoping to see a lot more in the near future.
A Head Start
Oakland also knows how to do run a community stewardship programs! Our City's award-winning Adopt-A-Spot program empowers citizens to plant gardens in street medians, maintain storm drains and beautify litter containers and utility boxes with mosaics and murals. OakDOT can learn from this program, and build on its success.
- Engage the community in the development of the guidelines. In advance of any public hearings, circulate a draft to artists and community groups likely to implement these programs, meet with Keep Oakland Beautiful, Business Improvement Districts, and neighborhood groups who have completed a painted streets project to seek lessons learned and feedback.
- Develop a painless process for approval. Seek to understand the typical experience of a community member seeking approval through the City's Adopt-A-Spot program, versus the Green Wall program run through individual Council offices. Clarify the role of the Public Arts Committee and if/how approval will be incorporated.
- Support the program with money and materials. Consider funding sources or providing supplies and equipment to support projects and accelerate volunteer engagement. Seek a permanent funding source for these projects to supplement community fundraising. Review program budgets of other cities that provide small grants through a competitive process.
- Ensure equitable access and outcomes. Ideally, projects should be completed in all neighborhoods, not just the well resourced ones, or ones with improvement or commercial districts. The program's success should in part be measured by the extent to which Oaklanders of all ages and incomes benefit.
- Nurture a community network of community stewards. The mosaic trash can movement has been passed on from neighborhood to neighborhood, in part because the City's efforts to build a sustainability movement that empowers and connects everyday citizens to make a difference in their neighborhood. Groups should have an easy way to connect with others that have paved the way.
- Incorporate playful themes and goals into the guidance. Playability for all ages builds better cities for all. Join the Play Everywhere movement led by KaBoom and encourage opportunities for kids to "play along the way" by promoting transit ridership and walking with painted projects at bus stops and on sidewalks where children frequently walk. Playful infrastructure does not need to be only for kids and some of the best playful designs engage everyone every generation in a unique way.
- Encourage and support school-neighborhood partnerships. This program offers a tremendous opportunity for schools to.connect with neighborhood residents in order to improve pedestrian, bike and street safety by slowing cars down. Support sharing amongst school sites working on similar projects, and consider additional support and guidance for crosswalks and sidewalks near schools.
- Think beyond painted plazas and streets. Crosswalks, intersections, sidewalks, concrete bulb-outs, storm drains are all a potential canvass for expression, neighborhood identity and beautification. Segment the requirements by project type so that a small group of volunteers can accomplish a quick and easy project.
- Provide pre-approved art templates for community use. In order to accelerate the number of projects, consider providing some standardized stencils for replication across the city. For example, a crosswalk pattern stencil that could then be customized with colors by the neighborhood, would give volunteers a starting point.
Crosswalks, Storm Drains, Bike Stencils....
Cities with Painted Intersections/Crosswalk/Storm Drain Programs
- City of Fort Lauderdale
- City of Minneapolis Paint the Pavement Program
- City of St. Louis
- Seattle Painted Intersections
- City of Milwaukie Painted Intersection Program
- Portland City Repair Project
- Madison, Wisconsin Decorative Pavement Painting Program
- Orlando / Bungalower Art Drains
- U. Arkansas Storm Drains
- Rockville Storm Drain Murals
- City of Richmond, Storm Drain Art program
- Where else?
Does your city have a painted intersection or crosswalk program?
If so, let us know!