D.C.’s New Traffic Safety Plan Includes Public Art Strategy

A wide-reaching traffic safety plan in Washington, D.C. will come with several new public art projects for the District.

D.C. has released a 110-page action plan for transportation safety that covers traffic regulations and enforcement, street design, and safety education. It’s another iteration of the Vision Zero Initiative, a transportation safety strategy that originated in Sweden with the goal of completely eliminating traffic deaths.

Hat tip to Marielle Mondon in Next City for noting that along with speed reduction efforts, increased fines, and expanded sidewalks, D.C.’s Vision Zero plan includes space for new public art projects.

Per the action plan, public art will be incorporated into street safety redesigns. The District Department of Transportation along with the Office of Planning and the Department of Energy and Environment have been tasked with piloting “safety enhancements through placemaking efforts and public art in three locations” before December 2016.

I got in touch with the DDOT to try and get a sense of how public art is intended to create safer roads. A spokesperson said in an email that it’s early in the process, so “art-centric ideas and best practices are still being defined and codified. There is still some community engagement and involvement that must happen before any ideas are finalized.”

I couldn’t find too much precedent within other existing Vision Zero programs, although Los Angeles recently closed applications for a “Creative Catalyst Artist” to “identify creative interventions in alignment with Vision Zero.” However traffic calming public art has been tried before, namely in the form of pavement murals.

The District has also already allocated funds for Vision Zero public art. For Fiscal Year 2016, $61,000 have been set aside collectively for local “transportation safety liaisons” and “art safety grants” that will go towards 10 public art projects.

The DDOT did not respond to my questions regarding how much exactly will go towards the Art Grants or how these Grants will be given out, and I’m not counting on a follow up on Christmas Eve.

Next steps for Vision Zero implementation will be a “Vision Zero Hackathon” in January, involving “substantial public engagement in safety analysis,” according to DDOT’s website.

Featured Image source: D.C. Vision Zero Action Plan