Road safety was significantly improved following the installation of asphalt art, a recent study has determined.
Rather than being a distraction, it significantly reduces crashes and the rate of so-called “conflict” between pedestrians and vehicles, said the Asphalt Art Safety Study from Bloomberg Philanthropies.
The group compared historical crash data of two years before and after asphalt art was installed in 17 different areas. The results were a 50 per cent decrease in the rate of crashes involving pedestrians or other vulnerable road users at the asphalt art sites. There was also a 37 per cent decrease in the rate of crashes leading to injuries and a 17 per cent decrease in the total crash rate.
In the area of conflict, it observed a 25 per cent decrease in pedestrian crossings involving a conflict with drivers, a 27 per cent increase in the frequency of drivers immediately yielding to pedestrians with the right of way and a 38 per cent decrease in pedestrians crossing against walk signals.
The group hopes the findings from the study will inform discussions around revising roadway engineering guidance to improve safety for the most vulnerable road users.
Asphalt art includes intersection murals, crosswalk art, and painted plazas or sidewalk extensions.
“The art itself is often also intended to improve safety by increasing visibility of pedestrian spaces and crosswalks, promoting a more walkable public realm, and encouraging drivers to slow down and be more alert for pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable users of the road,” the report said.
The reduction in crashes was consistent across all of the group’s test sites, which included a variety of roadway settings, traffic control types and art improvement types.
“The results are likely due to the improved conspicuity of the intersection and roadway user movements,” the report said. “It should be noted that at several locations, after analysis periods overlapped with the COVID-19 pandemic, when injury crash rates were elevated nationwide.”