Colourful Exchange District project shows signs of distress
Bike lanes peel after summer sunburn
LESS than two months after artists put their mark on Exchange District bike lanes, and even before some of them have opened, the paint has started to peel.
Some bike-lane paintings have already started chipping, and the bright blues, greens and pinks have faded.
The City of Winnipeg and Exchange District BIZ partnered with artists to paint new bike lanes downtown this summer. The $5,000 price tag is part of the $4-million budget for the Bannatyne and Mc Dermot avenues protected bike-lane project. The city is paying 60 per cent, and the federal government is paying the rest.
“The project is an example of ‘tactical urbanism,’ which aims to make urban areas more lively and enjoyable,” city spokeswoman Michelle Finley said. “The area was targeted for this project because of the Exchange District’s engaging arts and culture community, and it was deemed to be an excellent way to highlight the additional bike infrastructure in the area.”
The industrial paint is similar to that of road-marking paint. A non-slip additive was mixed in so it wouldn’t endanger pedestrians or cyclists. Finley said it was expected to “last for some time.”
When asked for a more specific life expectancy, she said a number of factors can influence a paint’s longevity, and the city will be monitoring the paint and its durability. “It would be premature to put a detailed time frame on it, other than to say we expect it will last more than one season.”
Each artist had two days to complete their mural using buckets of industrial and exterior-grade paint in shades of blue, green and pink. The first group of artists finished their murals during the last days of June. The second set of artists completed the work in mid-July, BIZ director David Pensato said.
“The idea was to have it be temporary and a thing to launch the bike lanes and the back-in angle parking,” Pensato said.
It is unclear whether it is legal to use permanent paint on roads.
Winnipeg artist Pat Lazo painted a strip of the bike lane on Bannatyne Avenue from King to Princess streets. Lazo said he was part of the first group of artists to paint the street murals.
“It was a great opportunity; I think we need more projects like it, but I think they need to be better executed,” Lazo said Thursday, after taking a look at his chipped mural.
The artist said he expected the paint to chip since his canvas was a street. However, Lazo was surprised to see the bike lane he painted was still surrounded by barricades on Thursday. “It would’ve been better if I painted (it) two days before it opened,” he said.
Lazo, who was paid $500, said he normally paints murals on outdoor walls after doing more prep work, such as power-washing and degreasing. For the bike lane project, he washed and swept the surface.
“It’s a street, it’s not going to last forever, but at the same time… there is prep that you can do so it’ll last longer.”
Mark Penner was cycling on the street, parallel to the bike lane on Bannatyne Avenue on Thursday because Lazo’s colourful mural was blocked off.
The cyclist, who is also a professional painter, said the paint job is “a really nice idea,” but the timing was off.
Penner said he was somewhat shocked to see the paint already chipping, since he saw artists painting the lanes a few weeks ago. He said it would’ve made more sense to paint the lanes after construction. It would’ve helped had the lanes been painted in cooler weather, he said.
“When you apply paint to a surface that’s too hot, it flash-dries and doesn’t have time to adhere,” Penner said, adding paint shouldn’t be applied outside the 10 C to 30 C range. The paint’s adhesive qualities are limited if there is dust on a surface, he added.
On June 27, the day Lazo painted his mural, it was 28 C. The artist said there were also piles of dust on the lane that couldn’t be removed after several sweeps.
Around the corner from the bike lane mural, Arnold Thiessen, manager of Interior Illusions on Princess Street, said Thursday he thinks the project was a “complete waste of money” and the money could have been better spent.