How this art project could help improve traffic safety near Terry Redlin Elementary

The streets around Terry Redlin Elementary School are getting a makeover this week in hopes to slow traffic near the campus and make crosswalks a little safer for pedestrians.

This initiative from Sioux Falls Thrive Kid Link at Terry Redlin was sparked by feedback from neighbors during community meetings last year, who voiced concerns about traffic safety at the eight different intersections leading to the school.

“I’ve been here during pick-up in the afternoon, and I’ve been scared,” Michelle Erpenbach, president of Sioux Falls Thrive, said. “It’s that way at a lot of schools, too, but especially at this one. It’s landlocked. The streets are pretty narrow.”

A car passes by where Thrive Kid Link volunteers will be painting the streets at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. Thrive Kid Link reached out to parents and neighbors to ask for help painting the eight intersections around the school.

A car passes by where Thrive Kid Link volunteers will be painting the streets at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. Thrive Kid Link reached out to parents and neighbors to ask for help painting the eight intersections around the school.

Erpenbach said further conversations between city and school officials led to the idea of painting bump-outs, which are essentially long stripes along the edges of the road that serve as a visual encouragement to slow down, and can have a visual effect of making the street appear more narrow, so drivers are less likely to race by.

To get kids involved in the project, Kid Link called for local students, parents and community volunteers to help out. The nonprofit also reached out to local artist Zach DeBoer, who has experience in similar traffic safety painting projects.

Fourth grade student Ella Franzna (right) learns how to spray paint stencils from local artist Zach DeBoer (left) at Terry Redlin Elementary School on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.

Fourth grade student Ella Franzna (right) learns how to spray paint stencils from local artist Zach DeBoer (left) at Terry Redlin Elementary School on Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023.

In 2016, DeBoer painted back-in angled parking spots and a bike lane on North Main Avenue in what he considers uptown. He also recently helped paint parking lane lines and crosswalks in the All Saints neighborhood at 17th Street and Phillips Avenue.

DeBoer said each of these painting projects has helped create higher visibility for pedestrians. At Terry Redlin in particular, DeBoer said he knows the streets can be unsafe for kids because most of the students there walk to school, and the roads are “over-wide,” he said.

During Kid Link’s weekly family nights at Terry Redlin, kids were encouraged to get involved in the project by coming up with designs they could stencil onto the bump-outs to give the project their own touch of community and creativity.

Fourth grade students Serenity Greer and Ella Franzna spray paint stencils near one of the intersections at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Fourth grade students Serenity Greer and Ella Franzna spray paint stencils near one of the intersections at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023.

Students like Serenity Greer, 9, who is going into fourth grade this year, got the opportunity to paint on the bump-outs with stencils and spray paint. Greer hadn’t spray painted before Tuesday.

“I think it’s cool, because I like painting with paint brushes at home,” she said. “I love art.”

Fourth grade student Ella Franzna learns how to spray paint stencils at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. The children who came out to volunteer got to pick out their choice of stencils to use on the street.

Fourth grade student Ella Franzna learns how to spray paint stencils at Terry Redlin Elementary in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on Tuesday, August 15, 2023. The children who came out to volunteer got to pick out their choice of stencils to use on the street.

This article originally appeared on Sioux Falls Argus Leader: Terry Redlin Elementary School improving traffic safety with paint