Indy neighborhood uses art to curb reckless driving

INDIANAPOLIS – It’s an accident waiting to happen. At least that’s what many neighbors in the Community Heights area on Indianapolis’ Eastside believe when it comes to reckless driving.

“I always say they are [drivers] They’re late for their own funerals because when you drive that way, pretty quickly you’re going to get into an accident,” Jesse Froschauer said.

That’s where the graffiti painted by neighbors earlier this month comes in. It is at the corner of East 16th Street and Graham Avenue in front of Indianapolis Public School 88.

“I was commissioned to create a piece to slow down traffic in this area,” said Deona Craig, the artist behind the traffic calming mural.

The mural is part of “strategic urbanism” — a community-driven, low-cost approach to creating change.

“We know that umbrella policy or strategic urbanism as an umbrella term, rather, covers many different things to many different people. As far as the streetscape is concerned, it can be therapeutic. It can also be different ways in which neighbors engage with their local government in different, Often temporary, they can apply treatments to their neighborhood streets to help with road safety,” said Ben Easley of the Indianapolis Department of Public Works.

Craig used neighborhood feedback from the meetings as a sketch and to create a mural commissioned by the Community Heights Neighborhood Organization.

“Sometimes traffic calming graffiti is like a psychological trick to tell people there’s something there and trick their brains into paying attention to their surroundings,” Craig said.

The CHNO president said WRTV talks of the project began last September after concerns about speeding and reckless driving in the area grew. They secured grant funding in March to make it a reality.

Earlier this month, CHNO said about 80 neighbors came out to paint the mural. Froschauer was one of them.

“This is my neighborhood. I care. I care about these kids,” Froschauer said.

She has lived a few feet away from the corner of E 16th Street and Graham Avenue for nearly 30 years, saying reckless driving has always been a problem in the area.

“I hoped so [the traffic calming mural] Will be, but has not been. It’s not slowing anybody down,” Froschauer said.

To that end, both Craig and the neighboring organization ask for patience. Next month, another mural will be painted on the other side of the street.

“Let’s talk. The people who walk these streets could be our neighbors and let’s just have a conversation about it. And that’s better than nothing,” Craig said.

Once the project is finished, the neighborhood organization told WRTV that a second traffic study will be completed to see how traffic in the area has changed since the installation of the traffic calming murals.

For those looking to make similar changes in their neighborhoods, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works added two new policies this year — one called ‘Tactical Urbanism’ and the other called ‘Art in the Right-of-Way.’ Those with pitches are asked to email [email protected]

“What’s important to know is that with the establishment of these policies, we’re opening the door to all kinds of good ideas from neighbors, to bring those people to us to see what’s possible within the public right, and kindness. Talk about how we can implement some of them together. To keep going,” Easley said.

The official ribbon cutting of the mural will take place on Friday, August 26th Between 5-7 in IPS School 88.

CHNO is looking for volunteers to help paint a second mural on the westbound lanes Sept. 25. Those interested in volunteering can email [email protected]

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