Winnepeg local Stephane Dorge (@StephaneDorge on Twitter) coordinated local efforts with the cooperation of 16 local artists on August 20th to paint the streets. The finished result became much bigger than possible to cover in one news article, but followers and contributors documented the process over Twitter with the hashtag #PaintThePavementWPG. The effort was in conjunction with the CCFM (Centre Culturel Franco-Manitobain) and the City of Winnipeg -- @cityofwinnipeg and @ccfm on Twitter, respectively.
Overhead view of the new installation, with a cyclist in the middle.
Judging by Twitter posts alone, there are very few mentions of cycling-specific initiatives but CBC interviewed artists and commissioners around the project, all of which detailed a need for enhanced cycling safety awareness for motorists.
The City of Winnipeg is commissioned local artists to paint murals on the pavement along selected summer cycling routes in an effort to slow down motor vehicle traffic. Traffic analysis has shown that despite a posted 30 km/h speed limit, drivers are still going too fast. The pavement art is intended to create the perception of a narrower roadway and help calm traffic. Work is currently underway at 16 sites along four of the reduced-speed routes.
Winnipeg enhanced 15 popular summer routes with reduced road speed limits and public art displays. The city is partnered with the local public art collective Cool Streets Winnipeg for the $50,000 traffic-calming project. Most of the money is to pay the artists, said Erik Dickson, street specialist for the city's public works department. The group was involved in a lauded 2021 effort to transform the look of eight city bridges.
According to Jason Carter, a member of Bike Winnipeg and former president of the Manitoba Cycling Association, traffic calming efforts are needed in order to prevent accidents, especially with the end of the designated routes looming. He pointed to a curved section of Wellington Crescent running along the Assiniboine River not far from Doncaster Street as an issue — the same where a teen girl was killed in 2012 while a passenger in a speeding SUV that crashed.
Carter said he was almost struck in the same area by a van that left the road and crossed over onto an adjacent cycling path when he used to commute through the area. "Had I been going a little faster I would have been knocked into the river," he said.
The entire project took approximately one full day to complete with all of the artists working diligently under the hot summer sun. Traffic volume will pick up along the painted sections in the late fall and winter as more drivers access the road, but without speed limit or other restrictions, which will end.