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'Pay attention': Indy neighborhood using art to curb reckless driving

Traffic Calming Mural
Posted at 5:15 PM, Aug 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-22 18:14:29-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It is an accident waiting to happen. That is at least what many neighbors in the Community Heights area on Indianapolis’ eastside believe when it comes to reckless driving.

“I always say they’re [drivers] are late for their own funeral because when you drive that way, pretty soon you’re going to have an accident,” Jessie Froschauer said.

That is where a mural painted by neighbors earlier this month comes in. It sits at the corner of East 16th Street and Graham Avenue in front of Indianapolis Public School 88.

“I was commissioned to create a piece to kind of slow down traffic in the area,” Deonna Craig, the artist behind the traffic calming mural said.

The mural is a part of “tactical urbanism” — a community-driven, low-cost approach to creating change.

“We know that Tactical Urbanism as an umbrella policy or an umbrella term, rather, encompasses a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It can be treatments as far as a streetscape is concerned. It can also be different ways in which neighborhoods get in touch with their local government to implement different, often temporary, treatments to help street safety along their neighborhood roadways,” Ben Easley with Indianapolis Department of Public Works said.

Craig utilized neighbor feedback from meetings, in the form of sketches and the like to create the mural commissioned by the Community Heights Neighborhood Organization.

“Sometimes traffic calming murals are just like a psychological trick just to tell people there’s something there and just to trick their minds to pay attention to their surroundings,” Craig said.

CHNO’s president tells WRTV talks of the project began last September after concerns over speeding and reckless driving grew in the area. They secured grant funding in March to make it a reality.

Earlier this month, CHNO said some 80 neighbors came out to paint the mural. Froschauer was one of them.

“This is my neighborhood. I care. I care about these kids,” Froschauer said.

She has lived feet away from the corner of E 16th Street and Graham Avenue for nearly 30 years, saying reckless driving has always been an issue in the area.

“I hoped it [the traffic calming mural] would, but it hasn’t. It’s not slowing anybody down,” Froschauer said.

To that, both Craig and the neighborhood organization ask for patience. Next month, another mural will be painted on the other side of the street.

“Let’s talk. People that are going down these streets may be our neighbors and let’s just have dialogue about it. And it’s better than nothing at all,” Craig said.

Once the project is finished the neighborhood organization tells WRTV a second traffic study will be completed to see if and how traffic changed in this area since the traffic calming murals were installed.

For those who may want to make a similar change in their neighborhood, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works added two new policies this year -- one being ‘Tactical Urbanism’ and the other ‘Art in the Right-of-Way. Those with pitches are asked to email reimaginerow@indy.gov.

“What's important to know is that with the establishment of these policies, we're opening the doors to all kinds of good ideas from neighborhoods, to bring those to us take a look at what is feasible within the public right of way, and kind of continue the conversation on how we might implement some of those together,” Easley said.

An official ribbon cutting of the mural will be held Friday, August 26th between 5-7 at IPS School 88.

CHNO is looking for volunteers to help paint the second mural on the westbound lane September 25. Those interested in volunteering can email chnoindy@gmail.com.

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