Above: A rainbow crosswalk in Long Beach, California.
The Trump administration has tried to make a town get rid of its Pride crosswalks, but the town has refused.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration sent a letter to officials in Ames, Iowa requesting they remove the Pride crosswalks because they claimed they were a safety hazard. The crosswalks include the Pride flag, with the addition of black and brown stripes to show racial inclusivity, the transgender Pride flag, and the gender nonbinary flag colors as well.
— Michael Crumb (@MJCrumb) September 29, 2019
“Crosswalk art has a potential to compromise pedestrian and motorist safety by interfering with, detracting from, or obscuring official traffic control devices. The art can also encourage road users, especially bicycles and pedestrians, to directly participate in the design, loiter in the street, or give reason to not vacate the street in an expedient or predictable manner,” the FHWA wrote in a letter to Ames City Manager Steve Schainker, dated September 5, CNN reports.
“It also creates confusion for motorists, pedestrians, and other jurisdictions who may see these markings and install similar crosswalk treatments in their cities,” the letter continued. “Allowing a non-compliant pavement marking to remain in place presents a liability concern for the City of Ames in the event of a pedestrian/vehicle or vehicle/vehicle collision.”
The city council has decided the federal government does not have the right to tell them to remove the colors.
“My only question is, do we need to do anything?” said council member Chris Nelson during a recent meeting, the Ames Tribune reports. “Can we just accept the letter and say thank you?”
City Attorney Mark Lambert said they could, as it did not include a request for a response.
“As I said in my memo, (FHWA) couldn’t explain to me how they had jurisdiction over city streets, they were unaware of any penalties, and said they were still researching that,” Lambert said. “Frankly, I think that according to the manual itself, there’s a good argument we’re not violating the manual, since there’s no prohibition on colors.”