WESTFIELD, NJ — The intersection of Elm and Quimby streets is about to get a lot brighter.
On the same evening that Mayor Shelley Brindle read a proclamation declaring June LGBTQ Pride Month, she also announced that students would be working with the town and an artist to paint a rainbow crosswalk at the intersection in Downtown Westfield.
“Not only does this honor Gay Pride Month, but longer-term it memorializes rainbows as a symbol of hope that we’ve seen all over town the last few months,” Brindle said at Tuesday’s virtual council meeting.
She said the town would not be raising the rainbow flag as it did for the first-time last year because flags are now at half-staff to honor the victims of COVID-19.
“It just felt difficult to celebrate that at half-staff,” Brindle said.
In 2018, Maplewood painted a rainbow crosswalk just outside its town hall.
Councilman Mark LoGrippo questioned the safety of rainbow crosswalks, pointing to a federal recommendation that crosswalks be painted white.
“It’s not unusual to do this,” Brindle replied. “As I said, it happens all over the country.”
A 2019 report in The New York Times said the Federal Highway Administration was unable to provide research specifically studying the effect that colorful pavement markings have on safety. The Times' story quotes traffic safety experts who debunk the federal government’s safety concerns about such crosswalks.
On Tuesday, Town Administrator Jim Gildea said Craig Gibson, a supervisor with the public works department, would be working with the high school students on the project in Westfield.
“We’ll be talking to him to see how we can work with the high school. … The details we don’t know of as of now,” Gildea said.
Speaking to the council, First Street resident Cornelius Cody suggested that the crosswalk include recognition of the challenges that people of color within the LGBTQ community face.
“My recommendation is that not only does it include the colors of the rainbow, but a brown and black stripe in the crosswalk to represent people of color in the LGBTQ community who face great issues,” Cody said.
Email Matt Kadosh at firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @MattKadosh
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