Louisville Receives Asphalt Initiative Grant


Philanthropic organization Bloomberg Philanthropies has reportedly granted $25,000 to the Louisville Metro Government to paint artwork on curb bump outs and extensions, in addition to a mural next to the Parkland Plaza in Louisville, Kentucky.

According to a release from the Louisville Metro Government, the grant is being given through Bloomberg’s Asphalt Art Initiative, which aims to improve street safety, renew public spaces and engage residents.

Bloomberg’s Asphalt Art Initiative grant program is designed to fund visual art on roadways, pedestrian spaces and public infrastructure in cities. According to the organization, these projects are typically painted murals, which are organized in collaboration between the city government and local community.

Project Details

The release states that the project will be completed by the Metro Government’s Office of Arts and Creative Industries and Office of Planning. It will build upon previous efforts to add thermoplastic crosswalks and curb extensions to streets at Parkland Plaza.

“This project builds upon the positive reception that we have received for our Community Crosswalks program, which we created after seeing the success of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative. Both aim to showcase Louisville’s art and cultural scene and improve safety conditions for pedestrians,” said Louisville Mayor Craig Greenberg.

“We are grateful to Bloomberg Philanthropies for awarding us this grant and look forward to transforming the Parkland corridor into a safer and vibrant corridor for residents.”

Louisville Metro Government states that it will now consult with Parkland residents, businesses and community groups and local artists to choose designs for the art. In December, a Call for Artists is expected to be issued by the Office of Arts and Creative Industries.

Louisville is reportedly one of 25 grant recipients that were chosen from a list of over 200 applications from cities across Canada, Mexico and the United States.

In addition to the grant, each winning city is reportedly set to receive technical consulting from Bloomberg Associates in collaboration with tactical urbanism firm Street Plans.

Previous projects have reportedly held positive impacts for cities by reducing vehicle speeds and improving pedestrian safety. Additionally, the release states that these changes could help encourage community engagement on infrastructure projects.

About the Grants

In April, Bloomberg Philanthropy announced that it would be awarding 20 individual grants of $25,000 to select communities beginning in the fall. Each awarded city was also to be given technical consulting. 

“The Asphalt Art Initiative has transformed roadways that are hostile to pedestrians into urban highlights that bring the local community together,” said Kate Levin, who leads the arts program at Bloomberg Philanthropies as well as the Cultural Assets Management practice at Bloomberg Associates.

“This new round of projects will continue the initiative’s mission to use public art for social cohesion, enhancing neighborhood identity and giving the power to shape local urban landscapes to people in those communities.”

This round of grants reportedly came just after another series of grants that was given out between 2020 and 2022 to fund 64 projects in 41 U.S. cities and 22 in Europe.

A statement about the initiative said that the Asphalt Art Initiative was created as a response to a “growing number of cities around the world embracing art as an effective and low-cost strategy to improve street safety through interventions on crosswalks, intersections, plazas, and other transportation infrastructure.”

Real-world examples shown by Bloomberg Philanthropies expand on those claims, with street art projects in Baltimore, Maryland, and Tucson, Arizona, having more than doubled the share of drivers yielding to people crossing the street.

Additionally, in Kansas City, Missouri, an "artistic redesign" of an intersection known for dangerously speeding drivers reportedly helped reduce traffic speeds by 45%. Also, in Durham, North Carolina, the amount people who felt unsafe crossing the road fell from 85% to only 6% at one intersection where art was painted.

“As the Initiative expands, more cities will have the chance to implement arts-driven street designs that not only improve the quality of our lives—but actually save them,” said Janette Sadik-Khan, principal for transportation at Bloomberg Associates.

“In addition to safer streets, the program creates vibrant public spaces, fosters a city’s interagency collaboration, and increases each city’s capacity to work with artists as well as community groups on creative projects,” the statement said.

“The 64 projects supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies completed to date have transformed a combined 360,464 square feet of streetscape with artwork while engaging nearly 7,765 residents and 178 artists in the design and installation process.”

Additional cities that are reportedly participating in the Asphalt Art Initiative included:

  • A project in Chattanooga, Tennessee repurposed a parking lane to create a community-designed gathering space near a new supermarket in a neighborhood that had been a food desert;
  • In Troy, New York, the city painted murals to revitalize a 500-foot stretch of a highway underpass that divided the downtown from lower-income neighborhoods to the north; and
  • In East Providence, Rhode Island, where five crosswalk murals now connect an elementary school to a nearby park, the share of residents who feel positively about the street rose from 20% to 93%.

Previous Grant News

In April of last year, Bloomberg conducted a study that found how city streets are reportedly safer for pedestrians when the asphalt roadways are painted with art, reducing the rate of car crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists by 50%. 

The Asphalt Art Safety Study, produced by Sam Schwartz Consulting, examined the impact of art on the streets by comparing historical crash rates and real-time behavior of motorists and pedestrians at several asphalt art sites before and after project installation.

The study reportedly showed safety improvements across 22 U.S. project sites after art was incorporated into roadway designs. Results reportedly included:

  • 50% drop in crashes involving pedestrians or cyclists;
  • 37% drop in crashes with injuries;
  • 27% increase in drivers yielding to pedestrians with the right-of-way; and
  • 25% drop in the rate of conflicts between drivers and pedestrians.

Bloomberg’s Asphalt Art Initiative grant program is designed to fund visual art on roadways, pedestrian spaces and public infrastructure in cities. According to the organization, these projects are typically painted murals, which are organized in collaboration between the city government and local community.

The program began with with 42 asphalt art projects in the United States and three pilot projects in Europe.

In October 2019, the Asphalt Art Guide was produced by the agency’s pro bono consulting arm, Bloomberg Associates. The Guide reportedly featured over two dozen case studies highlighting successful plaza and roadway art activations around the world, with a how-to section for cities interested in their own projects.

The organization reported that asphalt art projects can improve safety by increasing visibility of pedestrian spaces and crosswalks, promoting a more walkable public realm and encouraging drivers to slow down and be more alert for pedestrians and cyclists.

Some projects in the U.S. have included painting in a Pittsburgh community, coating a school crosswalk in Durham, North Carolina, activating a downtown event plaza in Reno, Nevada, and bridging divided neighborhoods in Troy, New York.

The European round of the Asphalt Art Initiative was also announced. The program was to award up to 20 European cities with grants of up to $25,000 each, in addition to on-call technical assistance from the City of Milan’s Agenzia Mobilità Ambiente e Territorio.

Winning cities were expected to be announced in October 2022, with projects beginning in 2023. Three pilot projects in Europe had been completed in Amsterdam, Glasgow and London at the time of the report.


Tagged categories: Artists; Asphalt; Coating Application; Color; Color + Design; Health & Safety; Health and safety; Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Murals; Murals; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Research; Research and development; Roads/Highways; Safety

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