Third Avenue mural of children killed crossing street offers sign of hope & safety
It's art that got real results.
A mural of three children killed in the past two years along Third Ave. as they tried to cross the street got the city Department of Transportation moving on a years-old traffic-safety project.
"I felt like I did make the street safer," said Laquon Wheeler, 17, one of 11 young artists who worked to honor the dead boys, James Nyprie Rice, 4; Juan Estrada, 10, and Victor Flores, 11.
At the dedication of the mural last week, DOT officials announced the city has budgeted money for widening the sidewalks and narrowing streets at 43 dangerous intersections in downtown Brooklyn.
"It's a huge victory, because this is something the community has been pushing for - for over a decade," said Transportation Alternative's Brooke DuBose.
The mural, a joint project between Transportation Alternatives and Groundswell Community Mural Project, aimed to attract the attention not only of city officials but also of drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians.
Part of the idea in the city's earlier traffic plan included "creating visual speed bumps," said Groundswell Executive Director Amy Sananman.
The artists didn't wait for DOT to come up with visuals to slow down cars, such as brightly painted crosswalks. Instead, the mural artists also painted images of the three dead boys holding traffic signs warning pedestrians, bicyclists and motorist to be safe.
"Those signs work as traffic signs. You can see [the mural] driving down Third Ave.," Sananman said.
Originally part of the 2004 Downtown Brooklyn Traffic Calming Plan, the city will begin the project next July, said Department of Design and Construction spokesman Matthew Monahan.
The plan includes making improvements at seven intersections along Third Ave.; two on Fourth Ave.; four on Atlantic Ave., and six on Henry St.
"It's not just a direct response to the mural," said Christopher Cardinale, lead artist with Groundswell, adding advocates had been trying for years to get the city to make the changes.
Downtown Brooklyn residents hailed the plan.
"Especially on Atlantic Ave. and Third Ave., I'm very wary of walking around there with kids," said Matt Rogers of the Boerum Hill Association. "If I'm stopped at a light I'm not even standing near a corner."
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