New Southwest DC art murals aim to make traffic safer

Four art murals are not adorned on the intersection of 4th and I streets in Southwest D.C.

Officials hope the vivid displays of blue ripples that border the bike lane will grab the attention of drivers and pedestrians, and ultimately lead to safer travel through the area.

Area artists Chelsea Ritter-Soronen and Gabriela Gomez of Chalk Riot were commissioned to do art murals Friday afternoon.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen called the artwork an innovative way to promote safety in the city.

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The intersection of 4th and I streets in Southwest D.C., where cars, bicyclists and pedestrians converge, is now adorned with four art murals.

Officials hope the vivid displays of blue ripples that border the bike lane will grab the attention of drivers and pedestrians, and ultimately lead to safer travel through the area.

“This is just that moment of looking to the side and kind of resetting where you are,” said Steve Moore, executive director of the Southwest Business Improvement District (SWBID).

Jeff Marootian, director of the D.C. Department of Transportation, said the hope is the calming effect of the murals will lead to everyone being more mindful of all who travel the busy intersection.

“It calls attention to the presence of others in the roadway that are using the crosswalk, that are on the sidewalk,” said Marootian.

The art installment results from a grant given by the District to the SWBID.

The group commissioned area artists Chelsea Ritter-Soronen and Gabriela Gomez of Chalk Riot to put paintbrushes to pavement on Friday afternoon.

“It’s inspired by the waterfront here in Southwest, and also the design is rooted in the concept that small ripples can create waves of change, given the moment that we’re in, in our country right now,” said Ritter-Soronen.

Ritter-Soronen said parts of Southwest are represented, including painted ducks honoring the duck pond and music notes paying homage to the area’s jazz scene.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen called the artwork an innovative way to promote safety in the city.

“This is a great visual cue, and a physical cue that really creates a safe intersection for everybody,” said Allen.

Ritter-Soronen said she believes displays like this one show that art can do more than add color to a neighborhood; it can encourage public safety.

“There are many bike lanes in D.C. that could use similar treatments to make sure that everybody stays safe,” said Ritter-Soronen.

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