Tacoma Urbanist

Jul. 14, 2008 at 12:02am

6th Ave. Intersection *Taken Back* Through Painting


Residents Conduct "Intersection Repair"


Sunday, July 13th marks a milestone for 6th Avenue.

It marks the date when neighbors reclaimed the common area by intersection repair by painting:




The intersection was painted not chalked.


Picture by Tacoma Mamma


Another cute artsy Tacoma happening? Hardly.  This is a tried and true method for communities to repair and "retake" their common areas, rebuild and restore the social and urban fabric and and provide traffic calming all at the same time. Speed bumps are being increasingly disfavored.

Of course, having it painted and "owned" by local residents is essential.  It wouldn't work nearly as well if the work was contracted out en mass by the city.

Here's a video from Portland where 80 such intersections have been "repaired."








The video suggests that painting intersections "calls out that something is different" causing cars to naturally slow down. It is also a reclamation of "the commons."

"Intersection repair" by painting is pretty established method to improve quality of life in urban areas rather than the misguided efforts of imposing meaningless suburban Federal Way type buffers (as Kunstler explains) around buildings or going into an anti car mode and removing curb parking.

Good urban design usually has cars accommodated but in a way that they do not dominate the area.

Unfortunately, many of Tacoma streets are designed with the measure of success being the ability to move the most cars possible through areas and thereby destroying any reason to stop there.

One intersection painted, hundreds left to go to make Tacoma more of a livable community
.

For more information see

City Repair Project

Street Films

comments [32]  |  posted under tacoma

Comments

by Jake on 7/14/2008 @ 12:28am
Traffic usually goes at 25 mph already through the business district though the speed limit is 30 mph.

by Erik on 7/14/2008 @ 12:59am
Here's a couple more examples:





Yep. These are intersections.

by fredo on 7/14/2008 @ 8:29am
I observed the painting and am whole heartedly in favor of improving the common areas of a locality. OTOH, I'm a little concerned that a motorist or pedestrian could be momentarily distracted by the lovely mural and become involved in tragic accident.

by intacoma on 7/14/2008 @ 8:52am
^ that happened to me last night I was driving and started looking down because I was so confused and nearly forgot to take that turn. Pretty cool though! Once I get used to it everything will be gravy

by Erik on 7/14/2008 @ 9:43am
I'm a little concerned that a motorist or pedestrian could be momentarily distracted by the lovely mural and become involved in tragic accident.

The goal of painting is to differentiate it from a speedway. So the detraction part on the road, is probably good not bad, unlike a lit up billboard away from the road.

by fredo on 7/14/2008 @ 9:47am
Erik@ Thanks for the enlightenment. If anyone is ever injured as a result of this "good" distraction, they will take great comfort from the distinction.

by FunkomaVintage on 7/14/2008 @ 10:58am
So Pretty......but I've never been able to tootle along 6th ave more than 25 miles per hr.....for the last 25 1/2 years....

by beerandhotdogs on 7/14/2008 @ 5:30pm
I can't count how many people rip down 6th ave doing 40-50mph daily. It is insane how many near-hits I've seen at 6th/Junette, & 6th/Pine. Pedestrians and bikers beware. Sucks.


C@TRH

by fredo on 7/14/2008 @ 7:25pm
Here's a traffic calming technique that works. Put a traffic cop along there and hand out $150 tickets for driving 10mph over the limit. The only distraction you're sure to notice is your annual car insurance premium will increase about $1000.

by ensie on 7/14/2008 @ 7:34pm
And...that's Fredo. Always looking on the bright side of things.

by fredo on 7/14/2008 @ 7:54pm
Ensie@ Red Hot is on 6th Ave. everyday and claimed the speeds people were driving are insane. Do you think a big purple octopus is going to stop the insanity?

by Erik on 7/14/2008 @ 8:21pm
If anyone is ever injured as a result of this "good" distraction, they will take great comfort from the distinction.

The theory of intersection painting is that is creates more attention to the roadway, not less, unlike a billboard thereby creating greater safety.

by ensie on 7/14/2008 @ 8:27pm
Fredo - It's been shown to calm traffic in other cities, as per the video that Erik posted. Did you even bother to look at it?

My other point is that you seem to see Feed Tacoma as your own private bitch session. All you do is post negative comments about every little thing that bothers you about the city, the people in it, and the things that occur around you. Even when people are trying to improve Tacoma you find things to complain about! It's getting really, really old.

by jenyum on 7/14/2008 @ 8:28pm
A little reading on exactly this issue from the Dutch planner who helped to pioneer the idea.

by jenyum on 7/14/2008 @ 9:04pm
Oops, he's Australian, not Dutch, but it's still good reading.

by fredo on 7/14/2008 @ 9:30pm
Ensie@ Why don't you buy this web site from Kevin so that you could stop pretending that its yours?

Until then, I plan to continue presenting positions which may be unpopular. From my perspective, the discussions which involve wildly divergent opinions are much more interesting, and ultimately, more thought provoking than the threads which consist of little more than blithe affirmations.


by jenyum on 7/14/2008 @ 9:41pm
I sincerely hope we can improve the quality of the discourse around here a little, without the need for formal moderation. It's always worked great in the past, but it seems like things are getting a little trib-like around here with a few vocal people commenting negatively on everything and everyone else more or less getting annoyed and clicking away.

Not that I don't have a tendency to comment a lot myself, I'm not perfect but I try to keep the negativity in check when I can. It's a good habit on many levels.

by ixia on 7/14/2008 @ 9:47pm
The plan was to slow people down in general, to encourage visitors to the Ave to walk and to bike. We also wanted to involve the community in the creation of the piece. We have so little space on the Ave for art. Painting an intersection was a great way to bring more color to 6th Ave. Thank you, Dionne, for your great work and for getting the community involved.
I know some folks are already working on getting other intersections painted. That makes me happy. Go out there and do something. Turn off the tube and DO something. I am with Ensie: complaining get’s old real fast.

by tacomawatcher on 7/14/2008 @ 11:15pm
I love the mural and watched them paint it. I hope it achieves its goal. But let's also be practical, if you don't want speeders ticket givers are a proven alternative.

by ensie on 7/14/2008 @ 11:17pm
Looks like I'm not the only one getting annoyed, Fredo.

I don't have a problem with presenting unpopular opinions. What I do have problem with is continual complaints about endless items, no matter how small, in public forums where they can't be avoided. Whining, coming from children or adults is irritating.

Unlike you, I DO have my own website where I write about issues that I don't feel the need to shove in other people's faces. People can choose to read or not to read my site. Here, it's impossible to avoid you.

by Erik on 7/15/2008 @ 12:14am
The plan was to slow people down in general, to encourage visitors to the Ave to walk and to bike. We also wanted to involve the community in the creation of the piece

Yep. Traffic calming is just one benefit.

The main one is for people to get involved and convert anonymous speedways into areas people are connected to and build community ties by getting out of their house or apartment and meeting their neighbors.

Plus, its public art!

In Portland, I think they re-paint them with a new design every year.

The alternative is to hunker down in one's house or apartment with multiple locks on the door, watch TV and then only leave for an occasional trip to the mall.

by Erik on 7/15/2008 @ 5:43pm
Here's how the intersection looks now with the painting completed on the opening day of Farmers Market.



www.flickr.com/photos/tacoma-urbanist/26...

The painted intersection appears to be working great for a signpost for the market as well.

by intacoma on 7/15/2008 @ 7:37pm
can anyone go out and paint their intersection? Or was this approved somehow? More info plz

by ensie on 7/15/2008 @ 7:59pm
It looks great.

Hey IT - the discussion I had at a Local Life meeting was that most people discuss it with their neighbors and agree on design, etc. Because it's a really big project, and it's something that is for the neighborhood it's something you want to work together instead of just piss each other off and start a neighborhood war. But often they don't consult with the city...

by ixia on 7/15/2008 @ 8:10pm
We discussed the project during a series of community meetings at Masa last fall. The entire community was invited and the 6th Ave merchants where present as well, along with several city staff. After that it took months of talking to the city to find out what was needed. It turns out the city has no program as far as public art in neighborhoods is concerned. This means the requirements can change as you move along with your project.
In this case we finally got an informal permission, as long as we would not paint over the crosswalk.
Funding is another issue altogether. The 6th Ave Merchants Association funded this project entirely, as part of Art on the Ave.
So I am not sure what most people do, since this has not been done in Tacoma (other then the daffodils). Street closure is a must, and it is harder to do with an arterial such as 6th Ave.
You have to be tenacious and not take “no“ for an answer. Or, do what needs to be done and ask for forgiveness later…..that could save you some frustration.

by ixia on 7/15/2008 @ 8:19pm
once we had the go-ahead, we did a call to artists and a jury selected Dionne Bonner to design and implement the mural with the help of volunters.
Jamie from thriceallamerican actually sparked the idea in the first place by sending us info on the Portland group....
in a nutshell........

by ensie on 7/15/2008 @ 8:21pm
Rock on ixia!

by FunkomaVintage on 7/15/2008 @ 10:40pm
perhaps we can descend on fredo and take him back....Yes, lets' reclaim fredo.....and calm him down by painting him. I'm up for some body-painting......RR?

by Erik on 7/15/2008 @ 11:41pm
We discussed the project during a series of community meetings at Masa last fall. The entire community was invited and the 6th Ave merchants where present as well, along with several city staff.

Nice going ixia. Although I am sure it involved a great many people. Now the standard has been set and it should be easier for other neighborhoods to do the same thing. As mentioned above, Portland has 80 painted intersections.

Looking forward to more intersections in Tacoma being painted by local residents and business owners.

Proctor could use one by their Farmers Market.

by Erik on 7/16/2008 @ 4:41pm
Kevin has a great overhead picture of the now painted intersection:



www.kevinfreitas.net/journalPicView.php?...

by Dionne on 7/17/2008 @ 12:03am
I loved painting this mural and most of all the community worked together contributing their unique brushstrokes to make it happen, BIG BIG THANKS TO ALL VOLUNTEERS. More of these murals should be done throughout neighborhoods and particularly in urban areas in Tacoma. You don't just see the difference to a otherwise grey muted roadway you feel it, there is an energy and vibe that new color, shapes and imagination bring. Although it was extremly hard work and very very hot, I'd do it over again anytime. I'm glad the community is enjoying the outcome and believe theres new life on 6th Avenue because of it.

By the way Kevin this is the best picture of this mural, it's awesome.

Thanks,
Dionne Bonner

by Erik on 7/17/2008 @ 12:08am
Although it was extremely hard work and very very hot, I'd do it over again anytime.

Nice work Dionne. It really added something to the 6th Avenue Market and to the neighborhood generally.