“There’s a team of individuals—mostly house staff—that are sort of tasked with looking at pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle safety, and one of the issues unfortunately is that a lot of drivers aren’t paying attention to the crosswalks,” said Jeffrey York, the public arts administrator for the town of Chapel Hill.
The town has already implemented flashing lights to grab drivers’ attention on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Franklin Street, but the team was looking for other innovative ways to attract attention to pedestrians crossing the road.
“Other communities in the U.S. and Europe have implemented more colorful and artist-designed crosswalks and have had good success with them,” York said. “The team thought this would be a good time to try that and then also provides a nice aesthetic look to the street scape.”
As with all public art projects, York said a request for artist applications was sent out, and the request was limited to a five county area of Durham, Wake, Orange, Alamance and Chatham. The town received 35 applications for potential designs, and an eight person selection committee made up of UNC art department personnel, interested citizens and a police officer narrowed the applications down to five.