A couple years ago, we posted about the winner of the 2016 NXT City Prize – Streetcar Safety Murals. Well, they finally happened!
When the prize was announced, the idea was simply just that, and idea. It did get a lot of attention though, as most things related to the TTC do. The winners, Lucas DeClavasio and Andrew Patterson of local branding and design agency, Wysp Creative, ended up working with the City to implement the murals as part of the King Street Pilot.
“I should point out that the City didn’t have to work with us on this project,” writes DeClavasio in Wysp’s blog post. “We were happy just with the thought of seeing the idea executed, but of course, we let NXT and their contacts at the City know that we were ready to jump on board if they required assistance. Fortunately for us, they invited us to come in and discuss the details.”
The two murals are at the southeast corner and northwest corner of King and Church in Toronto. The original idea behind the murals was to outline the boarding area to prevent cars from passing open streetcar doors. Beautification of the street is also another obvious factor.
The eastbound stop features some colourful hexagons, while the northwest stop has some eye-catching circles, painted with the same colours.
The murals are bordered by the yellow mats, outlining the pedestrian waiting area at each streetcar stop. In 2016, the details about the stops moving to the far side of the intersection and being closed off to cars was not known to the public. It looks like the City made it work though. With the paint not exposed to vehicles, the murals could last longer.
The fact that cars can’t drive by open streetcar doors along the King Street Pilot somewhat defeats the “safety” aspect of the original concept, but DeClavasio points out that there’s the possibility it will prevent cars from pulling over and parking/stopping in the pedestrian area.
One potential issue we see is the amount of dirt that collects at the curb. Whenever it rains, and we’ve had a lot this year, the water pools at the curb, which carries all the dirt from the road. Then when the water evaporates, it leaves sand-like dirt piled up. This is obvious at most stops, but the bright paint might make the dirt even more obvious.
Also, Toronto gets hit hard by winter, which results in a lot of plowing and salt, so it’s obvious that these murals are meant to be temporary. They’ll likely start to fade away come winter. This idea as a temporary art installation works though. Wysp says they painted both murals over the weekend, and we’re sure the stops were just moved down the street.
If the King Street Pilot system does not survive into 2019, then we don’t really see how these murals can get done without closing entire lanes and streetcar stops for a couple days at a time. That just won’t work on King St. on any day or at any time of the week.
If the King Street Pilot is deemed successful and made permanent (beyond this year), then it would be amazing to see different murals at more stops. The beautification aspect is a no-brainer, and it’s also a great way to engage the local arts community. Someone needs to find a way to rank neighbourhoods on beautification, it would be interesting to see if it influenced where people wanted to live.
Note: Lucas DeClavasio and members of the Wysp team are contributors to the Newinhomes.com blog.