“As a European without a driver’s license it can be a task to get around in America.”
Walkable Neighborhoods? D. That’s one grade above F (Fail) – it’s the grade the United States gets on its own report card on walking safely in our towns and cities. Actually, that’s one of the better grades in the report, where in most categories the United States is failing, especially in comparison to the rest of the developed world.
We simply don’t make it easy, safe, or friendly for people to walk here.
Blame it on the oil, automobile, and highway industry, all of whom lobbied congress with overwhelming force after World War II to create a pro-business Interstate Highway system, actively discouraging public transportation and passenger trains – making us dependent on cars to do everything. And its still happening now: oil and oligarchs like the Koch brothers have been using their money to shut down public transit plans all across the country in the last decade, according to The New York Times.
“As a European without a driver’s license it can be a task to get around in America,” says Street Artist BustArt, who shares with us his new colorful crosswalk in Greensboro, North Carolina. “Once you leave downtown the sidewalk becomes smaller and narrower, to the point where it is nonexistent. Same for the crosswalk, you get roughly19 seconds to make it over a massive stretch, while cars still pass over it due to the green light.”
Invited by commercial real estate developer and brewery owner Marty Kotis to add to the 85 murals he has organized in the city over the past few years as part of a program called Kotis Street Art, BustArt says that he decided to paint something on the ground as a departure.
“After I arrived in Greensboro we looked at a few spots where a crossing would work,” he says. “Sadly there was not enough time to get the city onboard so the crossing had to be on private property.”
Even though it wasn’t painted across a city walkway, his crosswalk project of colorful pop/advertising inspired pavement was harder than he thought, he tells us. First, he painted at night when there was less traffic. Secondly, a heavy rainstorm damaged 40% of the work. “At 5am we were finished and extremely happy about the outcome . . . until two minutes later it started to rain heavily for a short yet frustrating 15 minutes.”
After another nine hours of painting, the project was finished – and BustArt says he wanted to make sure it actually could be used to safely protect walkers. “We added a non-slip varnish to roughen up the surface and make it safer for pedestrians.”
Bustart says he would like to thank: Keif for his knowledge, Skatin for his hard work and motivation, Kotis Street Art for making it possible, and photographer Peggy Butcher who provided the great images and documentation.