Street art will slow cars, hopes Kitchener neighbourhood

The Mount Hope-Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association wants to paint art on the road at the intersection of Ahrens Street West and Wilhelm Street in hopes of calming traffic.

Street art has calmed traffic in Halifax and Portland

The Mount Hope-Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association looked to other cities like Halifax, seen here, that have used street art to slow traffic in residential neighbourhoods. (Placemaking Halifax)

A Kitchener neighbourhood association wants to use street art to calm traffic and slow drivers. 

The Mount Hope-Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association has asked city council to consider allowing them to do a large-scale painting on the road at the intersection of Ahrens Street West and Wilhelm Street.

"There were two accidents that happened that brought this to our attention, one involving a cyclist," said Lane Burman, co-chair of the neighbourhood association. 

"The problem with the area is when you travel downtown on Ahrens Street towards downtown there is a significant slope and you gain a lot of speed and by the time you get to the bottom you usually don't realize how fast you are going." 

Initially they hoped the city would install a four-way stop but it didn't meet city criteria. That's when the neighbourhood association decided to get creative. 

Other municipalities use street art used to calm traffic

Looking to other cities like Halifax and Portland, Oregon for inspiration, the group came across the idea of using public art as a traffic calming tool, said Burman.

"The one that inspired me was in Halifax called PlaceMaking Halifax. It was done at an intersection where there were two severe accidents and the community got together and said 'Hey, we've got to slow this stuff down,' " said Burman. 

The street art would be a pilot project for the neighbourhood. Burman said, depending on its success, it could expand to other intersections. 

The Mount Hope-Breithaupt Park Neighbourhood Association represents a section of Kitchener from King Street to Lancaster Street and from Victoria Street to the Waterloo city boundary.

It hopes city council will approve the mural project on August 11. It will then consult with the public on what the artwork should look like, with plans to complete the mural by spring 2015.