DOTS collaborated with students from the art department and the creative placemaking minor to paint crosswalks on Sunday to observe the effect it has on pedestrian behavior and raise awareness for pedestrian safety.
Students from Ben Edwards’ advanced painting class worked with volunteers to paint crosswalks on Campus Drive near Tawes Plaza with bright colors and patterns in a “Chalk the Walk” event. Studies show asphalt art such as painted crosswalks help increase pedestrian visibility and prevent accidents.
The Department of Transportation Services and 30 students from the creative placemaking minor will study the effect the murals have on transportation behaviors in the area.
Aysha Cohen, the university’s sustainable transportation coordinator, has been planning this event since last spring after securing a Pepsi Enhancement Fund grant. Cohen worked with students in the creative placemaking minor to conduct traffic counts and study behavior in the area before and after the murals were painted.
“I developed for them a form to fill out to understand, not only traffic behaviors that are maybe more concerning, like riding in the wrong way of traffic, but also traffic behaviors that we want to study a little further … to understand travel behavior gaps,” Cohen said.
Passing students were encouraged to help paint the crosswalk and stop at the tables hosted by DOTS and student groups to learn more about transportation safety on campus.
Charlotte Traub, a senior criminology and criminal justice and sociology major, stopped by the event and volunteered to join the painting.
“I just feel like it’s really important because there’s a lot of accidents on campus. I know of a lot of people getting hit, and I know the cars sometimes don’t stop,” Traub said.
The murals were painted with water soluble paint, meaning they will only last until it rains. Three crosswalks, closest to Cole Field House, were open to the general student body to decorate, and four were set aside for Edwards’ advanced painting class to paint with carefully thought out designs.
The 16 advanced painting students brainstormed ideas and split into four teams based on the four ideas to decorate the crosswalks: one was inspired by native plants; another is a rainbow optical illusion; the third is a mix of colorful geometric patterns; and the final crosswalk incorporates water lilies and mimics water.
Student groups, including the Student Government Association’s Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Terps for Bike Lanes and the Residence Hall Association, hosted tables at the event, distributing informative materials and encouraging students to get involved with transportation advocacy.
Quentin Hoglund, a junior government and politics major, is vice president of the Residence Hall Association and a bicycle rider. Hoglund said he’d like to see a greater level of respect between pedestrians, micromobility riders and motor vehicle drivers.
“It’s kind of frustrating when I see people riding their bike on sidewalks and stuff, like through crowds of pedestrians because then that makes other bikers look bad,” Hoglund said. “But I know a lot of people who use micromobility don’t really feel safe on the roads, so they go to the sidewalk.”
In celebration of October being Safety Month at the university, DOTS launched the Bikeways Project and will host multiple events to promote transit safety, including helmet giveaways, and audit the campus for mobility safety to promote safe transportation habits on and around campus.