The “Unity Tracks” art crosswalks and traffic calming bump outs improve safety for street crossing pedestrians while beautifying the corridor, celebrating local culture, and strengthening community connection to the adjacent Govans Farmers Market. The artwork features bright colors suggested by the community, bird tracks that resonate with other public art in the neighborhood, and symbols invoking healthy food and local culture. Embedded emblems include a peace sign, star, carrot, collard leaf, and several Andinkra symbols: Sankofa, Duafe (comb), Woforo Dua Pa A (square), Akoma (heart), and Dono (drum).
The artwork is set within curb extensions, or “bump outs”, marked by traffic striping and flex posts. Bump outs increase the visibility of pedestrians to passing cars while shortening the crosswalk distance in which pedestrians are at risk. The brightly colored artwork further enhances pedestrian safety by drawing the attention of motorists to crossing pedestrians. The project was facilitated by the York Road Partnership and funded by the Baltimore Development Corporation as part of the Design for Distancing program helping main streets in Baltimore reopen without compromising public health.
The design was inspired by community input collected during a virtual public meeting, through an online drawing form and survey, and distribution of a paper drawing form by the York Road Partnership. Three design options were shared back with the community for feedback during a second virtual public meeting held on February 24, 2021. During the following meetings an online poll was conducted. 189 people participated in the poll, with the “Unity Tracks” design being selected as the preferred artwork.
The selected design takes inspiration from the dozens of artwork ideas submitted, including the distinct iconographic work of local artist Vinnie Hager.
On May 15th, 2021 community members came out to help complete the artwork by stenciling the bird tracks that extend from the art crosswalks along the sidewalks in all directions.