School initiative links art, safety
Fifth-graders from Fargo's Roosevelt Elementary School will roll out their best Picasso and Monet imitations this week on city crosswalks. The school is partnering with Fargo Cass Public Health for an event Friday when students will paint crosswa...
Fifth-graders from Fargo's Roosevelt Elementary School will roll out their best Picasso and Monet imitations this week on city crosswalks.
The school is partnering with Fargo Cass Public Health for an event Friday when students will paint crosswalks on 10th Street North and 11th Avenue near Roosevelt.
The project serves two purposes, said Carol Grimm, a public health protection and promotions director for Fargo Cass Public Health.
Coloring the crosswalks works as a traffic calming technique because vehicles slow down to view the art, which improves safety for children crossing the street, she said in a news release.
Children are also more likely to use crosswalks decorated with art so they can view designs while walking, Grimm said.
Fargo-Moorhead drivers often don't pay attention to crosswalks, said Jeremy Gorden, traffic engineer for the city of Fargo. The art experiment will help highlight locations where drivers should slow down, he said.
"Crosswalks, in general, aren't obeyed very well in Fargo," Gorden said. "This will draw more attention for the driver and the pedestrian to the crossing."
The most recent traffic counts for areas surrounding Roosevelt, 1026 10th St. N., show on average of 11,000 vehicles travel daily on 10th Street North, while about 1,700 drive on 11th Avenue.
Vehicles zooming near Roosevelt create a safety concern, especially when drivers exceed reduced speed limits in school zones, said Eric Henrickson, an assistant principal at Roosevelt.
"We're right along one of the busiest streets in Fargo," he said. "Traffic concerns and using crosswalks and looking both ways are very important."
He said the school will tie in a safety lesson along with art education in painting the crosswalks. Students will use a special paint designed for the street and are gleaning ideas from the school's resident artist teacher to create the artwork.
School officials will poll Roosevelt's third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who walk to school on what they notice during their routes as a measure of whether the art effort changes students' crosswalk usage.
Henrickson said if the crosswalk artwork results in more students using designated crossings, the idea may be transferred to other schools.
"This is a test for the Fargo area to see if it's something that can be done elsewhere," he said.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Melinda Rogers at (701) 241-5524