Seeking Safer Schools, SOSNA is Soliciting Slick Street Murals

Remember what life was like before March, 2020? Nobody wore a mask. Kids went to school. Sitting inside at restaurants and bars was a thing. And so on. But folks, the great rebound is coming. The first vaccinations are happening this week and the end of COVID-hell is still at least a few months away, but we can at least start to make out the light at the end of the tunnel. So let’s think about something that will have a big impact once life starts to look more like it did a decade ago in early 2020.

We have to think that the kids will be going back to school in September of 2021, if not before. And as any crossing guard will tell you, road safety is a major concern for kids as they come to school in the morning and make their way home in the afternoon. With an eye toward improving safety near neighborhood schools, the South of South Neighborhood Association is partnering with Mural Arts to implement a street mural project. The two elementary schools in Graduate Hospital are the Arthur School at 20th & Catharine and the Stanton School at 17th & Christian.

Arthur School at 20th & Catharine
Stanton School at 17th & Christian

SOSNA and Mural Arts have released an RFQ, soliciting the design of curb bulb-outs at the intersections of 20th & Catharine, 21st & Catharine, 17th & Christian, and 17th & Montrose. These bulb-outs will entail a combination of painted pedestrian areas on the street and vertical delineators (like bollards) to make it safer to cross the street at these intersections. By effectively shrinking the crossing distance while calling attention to intersections with street murals, the hope is that drivers will pay closer attention to children seeking to cross the street and slow down more generally as they travel through school zones.

Areas around the Arthur School
Bulb-out examples

Per the RFQ, the selected artist will work with a task force that includes students, parents, City agencies, and community members to design a concept and engage the community. These efforts will take place in February – April, after which the bulb-outs will be installed near the schools, with a goal of completing the work by June of 2021. In all the selected artist will have a budget of $8,000 which should cover materials, supplies, installation costs, and any artist design fees.

We’re all about pedestrian safety, especially when those pedestrians are children. We’ll be very interested to see this project move forward and will keep a keen eye on how it looks when it’s all finished, with the thought that something like this could and probably should be implemented all over the city. If you think that you’d be the right person to steer this process, please be advised that December 28th is the deadline to ask questions about the RFQ and January 8th is the submission deadline. Good luck, street mural artists of Philadelphia!