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The government says (Capitol Hill’s) rainbow crosswalks (spreading to Iowa) could be unsafe. Are they really? (No. No they are not.)

The New York Times got the media buzzing about something that has been making the rounds since last month when the federal government told the good people of Ames, Iowa to remove the city’s “inclusive” multi-colored crosswalks citing safety concerns.

The Ames City Council voted unanimously to ignore the request, the NYT reports.

They made the right move. In 2015, the City of Seattle installed rainbow crosswalks across Pike/Pine just in time for Pride. Installed at six intersections totaling 11 different crosswalks on E Pine and E Pike from Broadway to 11th Ave, the crosswalks are highly Instagram-able and even got a touch up this summer after some major street work in the area. Inspired by the 2015 installation of the rainbows around Pike/Pine, Community Crosswalks can now be found across the city including the “Poem Dazzle” crossings on Melrose.

Any CHS analysis of safety related to the colorful crossings will have be anecdotal. We’ve never covered a serious collision involving the crosswalks in the four-plus years they have been in place. Meanwhile, we covered more than a few serious injuries to pedestrians at crossings *near* the crosswalks that didn’t get the rainbow treatment. Yes, we’re looking at you, busy probably overly dangerous mid-block crosswalk at 10th and Pine crossing to and from Cal Anderson.

Streetsblog USA, meanwhile, points out that the the Federal Highway Administration has never produced a study to back up its criticism of anything but white markings.

Seattle officials, meanwhile, could be pushing to change the federal stance, the NYT reports. City traffic engineer Dongho Chang tells the NYT there have been fewer “collisions and conflicts” thanks to the colorful crossings.

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14 thoughts on “The government says (Capitol Hill’s) rainbow crosswalks (spreading to Iowa) could be unsafe. Are they really? (No. No they are not.)

      • I agree we need more Pan-African crosswalks (and more Pan-African celebration in general). I believe Andrew was making a point that the black stripe in the Pan-African crosswalk is NOT a problem because it is surrounded on both sides by very visible colors and a white border. I imagine Andrew was being cheeky.

  1. it’s not like drivers stop for peds anymore even at clearly marked totally normal crosswalks anyway. hell yeah more color i say.

    • Preach. I have been driving around Seattle more than usual this week, and every single day I have witnessed an incident of someone slamming their brakes to stop at the red, when their original intention was to zoom through the intersection. However, all the people walking into the street, because, y’know, the signal shows they can, those folks got in the driver’s way.

  2. Hate, ignorance, and bigotry combined with violence and easy access to weapons = no safety concerns, carry on
    Rainbow crosswalks = federal intervention