Rainbow crosswalks don’t impact safety at Midtown intersection

The number of accidents at a popular Midtown intersection has not increased since rainbow crosswalks were installed there in 2017, according to Atlanta police.

The data contradicts a recent federal warning that such designs pose a safety concern.

Atlanta police provided Project Q Atlanta with the number of car and pedestrian accidents at the intersection of 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue from 2015 to 2019.

“These combined numbers were recorded from 2015 to 2016 before the paving, and then from 2017 to 2019,” Officer Anthony Grant told Project Q.

There were 26 accidents at the intersection in 2015, with 24 of those being car accidents and two being pedestrian accidents.

Then the number dropped to 20 in 2016 (all car accidents) and stayed at 20 in 2017 (18 car accidents, two pedestrian accidents), 2018 (19 car accidents, one pedestrian accident) and 2019 year-to-date (18 car accidents, two pedestrian accidents).  The crosswalks were installed in July 2017.

The Federal Highway Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, sent a letter to Ames City, Iowa, officials in September saying its recently-installed rainbow crosswalks were a safety concern and a liability, according to the New York Times. The Seattle Department of Transportation received a similar letter from the FHA in 2015. Both cities ignored the warnings.

The City of Atlanta appears ready to do the same should it receive a letter, according to a spokesperson for Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

While we have received no such request, Atlanta’s rainbow crosswalk is located on city-owned streets,” Press Secretary Michael Smith told Project Q Atlanta in a statement earlier this month. “Much like glitter, the crosswalk is here to stay indefinitely.” 

The City of Atlanta spent $196,000 to install the permanent rainbow crosswalks at the intersection of 10th and Piedmont. Road crews damaged the crosswalks in February 2018, but they were restored at no cost to the city.