Enhancing Pedestrian Safety in the Heart of Downtown
“We were able to use a local artist who highlighted a lot of the things that we love about Macon – the river, the music, Little Richard – and put it right in the middle of the most iconic street in downtown, demonstrating that Macon is a place that is committed to embracing art and culture and also embracing multimodal transportation." —Rachel Umana, Founder and Executive Director of Bike Walk Macon
When you think of Macon, you think of Cherry Street —a busy stretch of downtown lined with some of our best-loved restaurants and home to our annual cherry blossom festival. The mid-street crosswalk in front of Macon’s most popular restaurant, The Rookery, is one of the busiest in the city! Until recently, this crosswalk was easy for cars to miss because it lacks a traffic signal. Cars would roll through instead of yielding to pedestrians.
Through the Bike Walk Macon Love Your Street Project, I designed and painted a uniquely Macon street mural that drastically increased visibility of this crosswalk. Leading a team of 60 local volunteer painters, I transformed the gray asphalt into a colorful and eye-catching piece of art that made the crosswalk pop for motorists and pedestrians alike. The mural adds excitement and identity to the neighborhood and represents a critical investment in public safety.
By making the crosswalk safer, we showed that Macon values pedestrians. Research shows that both locals and tourists alike spend more time downtown and support the local economy if it is safe for bicyclists and pedestrians. The response from our business community has been overwhelmingly positive, with many sharing their excitement for the mural on social media!
The River, Little Richard, and Me
When Bike Walk Macon asked me to design the mural for such a notable stretch of downtown, I knew I needed something simple with a lot of Macon flavor. I chose to highlight Little Richard, one of Macon’s most famous sons and a source of pride and joy for our city, as well as the Ocmulgee River. Music notes from Little Richard’s song “Southern Child” flow on a bright blue river that wraps around the crosswalk. The notes match the lyric: “I’m a southern child from Macon, Georgia.”
“Erin is all about Macon. We knew she would be able to find the creative design we were looking for, and she absolutely delivered on that! She also went beyond just coming and painting the street, she was really involved in the project and why it was important.” –Rachel Umana, Bike Walk Macon
For Macon, by Macon
In addition to Bike Walk Macon, the mural wouldn’t have been possible without the vision of Newtown Macon (which in fact nominated this crosswalk for the Love Your Street Project), The Little Richard House, which contributed volunteers, Macon-Bibb County, which handled the permitting, engineering, and street closures, and The Pillyr Foundation, which assisted in the technical aspects of project planning.
I also brought in a whole crew of volunteers, which is one of my favorite aspects of painting murals. I love to share the sense of accomplishment from contributing to a meaningful installation—to see people walk by a mural we made together and say, “I did that!”
“Erin has an amazing community of people that follow and support her art. She went beyond the role of artist and recruited so many people to come out and help us paint. We had more than 60 people come out over a weekend—from children to older adults—to help us paint! She goes above and beyond.” —Rachel Umana, Bike Walk Macon
In the news!
Learn more about how Macon embraced this project through local news coverage!
- Volunteers transform Cherry Street into mural that features Little Richard, Ocmulgee River (2/20/21)
- Volunteers wanted to help paint mural of Ocmulgee River, Little Richard song in downtown Macon (2/17/2021)
If you visit the crosswalk mural, take a photo and tag me using #mamahawkdraws so I can see!