Crossing art to spread the road safety message

Mount Evelyn Primary School STEM girls showcase their new 3D pedestrian crossing. Picture: ROMY STEPHENS

Mount Evelyn Primary School’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) girls have unveiled their new 3D pedestrian crossing, created to raise awareness towards road safety.

The artwork, featuring three sets of wallaby legs sticking out from underneath the crossing rectangles, is hoped to grab drivers attention so they slow down and look as they approach.

The school claims it is the first 3D crossing in Australia that has been developed by primary school students through STEM education.

Year six student and STEM member Claudia Byrnes said she is proud to be a part of a project that will help change the community for the best.

“Previously, before we started the STEM group, outside the school there was heaps of speeding and people didn’t really care what they were doing,” she said.

“It was a high risk of people getting seriously injured.

“It feels like we’re more acknowledged and noticed for the good things that we’re doing.

“Helping other people just feels great.”

The new crossing came about as part of the STEM girls’ involvement in the Towards Safer Speeds Challenge and funding from VicRoads.

It evolved through two years of investigating and designing a range of road safety measures to slow speeds on the roads.

Wilani van Wyk-Smit is a parent of a former Mount Evelyn Primary School student and the Creative Director of Wildeye, the company which designed the STEM girls’ website.

She was one of the people involved in kickstarting the crossing project.

“My kids used to take the rail trail to school every day and in those years we saw a lot of irresponsible driver behaviour and had quite a few near misses,” she said.

“I always, as a parent, wanted to do something about the crossing.

“It will create conversation and that’s what we really want.”

With the crossing now finished, the STEM girls will move on to other projects that help raise awareness towards road safety.

They held a community question and answer forum on road safety last night (22 August) and will be handing out gold stars to people that pledge road safety at the Mount Evelyn Street Party in October.

But the next major intervention the group hopes to take is actually tracking cars so they can collect and analyse data.

Trish Rathmell, a teacher at the Mount Evelyn Primary School, said students have led the charge throughout all of these initiatives.

“I think the biggest driver of this has been that kids are now taking action.”

“They’re involved with adults to make life-changing decisions to help the community.

“The voice of the youth is a really powerful tool.”

Despite the crossing project being complete, Ms Rathmell hopes other schools and communities will look at developing more 3D crossings.

She said that although some people may think the artwork is a distraction on the roads, research suggests otherwise.

“Globally it does work,” she said.

“There are so many distractions in the car for drivers that would have a negative impact.

“The research shows that these (crossings) have very positive impacts.”

For more information on the crossing or other Mount Evelyn Primary School STEM projects visit, https://stemgirls.com.au/.