Resistance to Federal Highway Administration's Anti-Painted Crosswalk Position

As the Federal Highway Administration continues its anti-painted crosswalk crusade, attracting new attention at the national level, cities are resisting the notion that rainbow crosswalks are a safety liability.

2 minute read

October 11, 2019, 5:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Vancouver, British Columbia

Anita Hart / Flickr

In recent years, the Federal Highway Administration has targeted rainbow crosswalks as a safety risk, running afoul of federal regulations. The issue has come up in Lexington, Kentucky and, with a painted crosswalk program (not just rainbows) in St. Louis. The most recent controversy, in Ames, Iowa, attracting national media attention.

Emily S. Rueb reports:

Ahead of an annual L.G.B.T.Q. festival in Ames, Iowa, members of the City Council decided to liven up a pedestrian crosswalk near the downtown shopping district by painting stripes in colors evoking the gay, nonbinary and transgender pride flags.


But in early September, about a week after The Ames Tribune covered the cheerful ribbon-cutting ceremony, a letter arrived from the federal government: The motley intersection was a safety concern, it said, and a liability for the city.

The letter also included a request for the city to remove the crosswalk. The Ames City Council voted unanimously to ignore that request.

Just the idea of such a request prompted a response in Atlanta, according to an article by Stephen Deere. "The federal government has not asked the city of Atlanta to remove the rainbow crosswalks at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue, but even if it did, the city wouldn’t comply, said a spokesman for Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms."

In response to the continued anti-painted crosswalk actions of the Federal Highway Administration, former Streetsblog Editor Angie Schmitt took to Twitter to call out the hypocrisy of traffic safety policy in the United States.

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