How Graffiti On Bus Shelters Actually Saves Lives

Graffiti tags and other forms of vandalism at bus stops are oddly helping to save the lives of billions of birds.

Polish researchers have studied more than 80 different bus shelters across the country.

After carrying out almost 2,500 inspections every ten days, Poland's Academy of Science has concluded that birds are far less likely to collide with, and die, if the bus shelter has graffiti, dirt or artwork on it.

"Billions of birds die every year after hitting glass structures and our results suggest that collisions with glass bus shelters may be an important source of bird mortality," the authors said.

Birds are more likely to die via bus shelters in summer than winter, according to the research. Image: Getty Images

The report authors said about one million birds are killed every year -- in Poland alone -- as a result of collisions with bus stops' glass panes.

The findings were published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning.

Of the 155 recorded bird collisions with bus stops, among the dead were several different species including robins, blackbirds, robins, sparrows and thrushes.

"From the point of view of bird protection it is worth changing the way bus shelters are built, for example by engaging various social groups in artistic activities, or doing away with transparent materials completely,” Dr Ewa Zyśk-Gorczyńska from the Institute of Nature Conservation of the Polish Academy of Sciences said.

More than one billion birds die as a result of flying into bus shelters in Poland alone. Image: Getty Images

The researchers also concluded that collisions tended to be more frequent in rural than in urban areas, the highest rates of bird deaths from bus shelters was during summer while the lowest was in winter months and even dusty shelters helped lessen bird injury and deaths.

In order to reduce the number of deaths, the researchers suggest other, less illegal ways, to mark bus shelters. Image: Getty Images

"We understand that graffiti at bus stops is generally illegal and we do not encourage vandalism," Zyśk-Gorczyńska said.

In order to reduce the number of deaths, the researchers suggest other, less illegal ways, to mark clear bus shelters.

"Alternatively, existing glass shelters could be covered with images or paintings visible to birds that would reduce the number of collisions," the authors suggested.

"Aesthetically pleasant graffiti art reducing glass transparency may be justified as well since it fulfils an important conservation role."



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