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Streets of color: New crosswalk celebrates inclusivity

Crosswalks are designed to draw our attention for safety, but the bright rainbow colors of a new crosswalk in Greenmont are drawing attention for a different reason: Equality.

The crosswalk at the intersection of Wilson Avenue, Green Street and White Avenue drew a group of over 50 people on Wednesday night for its dedication.

“It gives many people a physical token of hope that they can be exactly who they are without judgment,” said state delegate Danielle Walker, D-Monongalia.

Morgantown Pride, a local LGBTQ+ organization founded in February of this year, proposed the idea to the city.

“Immediately we knew we wanted to get a crosswalk,” said Morgantown Pride secretary Alex Miller. The group was inspired by similar crosswalks in Milwaukee, Wis., and elsewhere.

“We wanted to take something that was really ordinary and make it pretty,” she said.

“It’s not just a crosswalk, it’s a symbol,” added Morgantown Pride treasurer Rozzy Lauderback.

Among the joyous crowd were three city council members, including mayor Bill Kawecki, and two state delegates.

“It means that Morgantown is an accepting community, and that’s important,” said Morgantown city councilmember Barry Wendell.

“It means, for me, that we actually do belong here. There was some doubt at some point about Joe and I living here,” Wendell said, referring to his husband, Joe Hample.

“This means so much, this says that Morgantown is a welcoming place. We need this all across our state. We need this in other cities,” said state delegate Cody Thompson, D-Randolph.

“A lot of municipalities have been experimenting with creative crosswalks for the past ten years,” said Drew Gatlin, the staff engineer for city of Morgantown.

The pride crosswalk is the first creative crosswalk in Morgantown, in part because of the simplicity of its design and the ubiquity of the materials.

“Every single one of these colors is used in some other portion of the transportation system: Red for fire lanes, yellow for no parking, the green is often for bicycle infrastructure, blue is for handicapped,” said Gatlin.

After the ribbon (also rainbow) was cut, couples walked across the crosswalk hand in hand and people took turns taking pictures. Readers inspired to do the same are advised to use caution as Wilson Avenue is still an active thoroughfare.