Safety concerns inspire Vancouver traffic circle mural

Red isnt the only colour of choice used to slow traffic down at 10th Avenue and St. George Street. During an annual summer block party last month, neighbours of this Mount Pleasant community gathered around their traffic circle to paint a colourful street mural on the pavement to help make travel safer.

As one of Vancouvers prominent bike routes, 10th Avenue sees bikes and cars whiz by every day, sometimes creating conflict between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

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Alicia McLean, 22, and her roommate Emily, live in a house on 10th Avenue that is lovingly referred to as the roost by neighbours. They help run the St. George Lending library and decided to launch a new project to bring a touch of colour, and safety, to their community.

We were hoping that it would make the intersection safer, said McLean. People are slowing down and even just standing in the traffic circle.

They hope the mural becomes permanent, but they used water based non-toxic paint for the safety of the rainway drainage, the inclusion of children while painting, and to ensure the surface doesnt become slippery for cyclists when it rains.

We wanted to make sure that it doesnt fall into disrepair, and didnt want to put something down that people didnt fully support, and so this freed it up to have more suggestions, said McLean.

This led them to rethink the project into an annual event with the greater, and common, purpose of bringing colour and safety to their street.

Stephanie Ondrack and her three children live steps away from the new mural. Shes delighted with the initiative and looks forward to the annual repainting of the mural. Her children mingled with other children and adults they had never met before. I was musing that this was probably the closest well get to the village model in which the whole community is comprised of trusted allies, people with whom each others children are safe, known, and appreciated, said Ondrack.

Her main concern is safety and she appreciates the liberty of letting her children, all under the age of 11, to feel free and play without walking to a park.

My three children got a chance to utilize the physical block differently, riding their bicycles and unicycle up and down the road, said Ondrack.

Shes optimistic about the murals effect and has already noticed a difference in traffic flow since it was painted.

It will remind vehicles that people live and play here, she said. It might encourage people on walks or leisure bike rides to detour this way, which will also help traffic to slow down.

The mural might inspire others to do the same in their community, and although Jerry Dobrovolny, Vancouvers director of transportation, encourages them to get involved, he said such initiatives should first be run by city hall.

Its important that the community recognizes that there is a process and that the city must be consulted, as there are safety concerns. We want to work with community groups to do this in a constructive way, said Dobrovolny.

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