The giant ladybug painting that now graces a Wallingford intersection represents both a "sense of neighborhood" and a reminder to motorists to take it easy.

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When motorists drive through the intersection of Burke Avenue North and North 49th Street in Wallingford, they’ll be surprised to find themselves in the middle of a giant ladybug, freshly painted on the pavement. Maybe they’ll slow down.

At least that’s what the neighbors hope.

Thinking of it as a traffic-calming device, more than a dozen residents joined Sunday to create the ladybug artwork, surrounded by flower petals in vivid yellow, black and red paint.

With a radius of 26 feet, it stretches across the intersection, with some painted leaves spreading onto the adjacent pavement.

“Our goal is to cut down traffic and bring the community together and create a sense of neighborhood,” said Eric Higbee, who lives on the corner and helped lead the project.

The intersection artwork, a pilot project for the city, has been in the works for about five months, he said, adding that the neighborhood received a $1,400 city grant to pay for the paint and permits.

Initially, he said, the city thought the design would be too big, but officials eventually allowed the neighborhood to paint it.

The ladybug idea was the brainchild of Lloyd Jansen, who had been talking with another neighbor about the possibility of having speed bumps put in the intersection. The bumps idea evolved into ladybug spots, and he then turned the idea over to neighborhood children, who created the design.

“Dad thought of a ladybug and I thought it sounded really cool,” said his 11-year-old daughter, Laura, who helped in the design work.

Higbee said the residents also wanted to paint flower petals on the sidewalks, but that was vetoed by city officials, who said it would be too confusing for drivers.

He thought the final design was ideal: “It signals people and nature, a healthy garden and ecosystem.”

The idea to paint the intersection came from Portland, where volunteers have been helping people reclaim their city to create community gathering places.

Wallingford wasn’t the only place Sunday where residents were out with their paintbrushes. In the Squire Park neighborhood, neighbors painted a colorful mosaic at the intersection of 20th Avenue and East Marion Street.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com