Regarding the now covered mural on St. George, I would like to commend the Gazette’s spin on the absolutely ridiculous fast action taken by VDOT to eliminate community artwork and grassroots action, and also comment on the subsequent letter sent by a Crozet resident condemning the street mural.
The evidence on whether or not street paintings are a safety hazard as the aforementioned letter claims is extremely slim, and the topic thus highly debatable. If you read up on the topic it seems clear that safety of such artwork is reliant largely on placement—such as not obscuring crosswalks or other vital directions and guidance for drivers. Placed at a crossroad on a residential street where people should be driving slowly anyway, the evidence is ever-clearer that street murals are in fact a safety enhancement, naturally reminding drivers to slow down. Some major cities have actually been formally granted funds for street art projects in order to increase street safety and community engagement. Check out the Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Asphalt Art Initiative program, for example.
Here are actual facts: a small child was hit by a speeding car and seriously injured on St. George, and the formal action taken by the residents to get VDOT to address the safety issues on the street was completely ignored (the issue bureaucratically relegated to “study,” and we all know what that means). The subsequent response of peaceful civil disobedience by resident parents to paint the whimsical and sweet rainbow train track mural with the Crozet flower at the center was therefore both courageous and full of servant love for their neighbors. The design was extremely thoughtful and clearly meant to put people in mind of young children and of love for their community. And it worked. Drivers were in fact slowing down. There were no accidents during the duration that the mural was visible on the street. (And it could be noted that at least one similar “unsanctioned” street mural in Charlottesville has gone undisturbed for some years now.)
My hat remains off to these parents who took action to protect kids (on a street full of young families and a large preschool) when the state won’t. What has unfolded in response to the mural is small town bureaucracy and abuse of power structures at its absolute worst.