You haven’t been a Wilton Manors resident for long if you haven’t heard the question, “When are we going to get a rainbow crosswalk?”
As a city commissioner, I have responded to this question at least once every week since I was elected. The beautiful “Love Always Wins” bridge reinvigorated interest in the rainbow crosswalk and demonstrated how beautifying our hardscapes can excite our community and become part of the fabric of our city’s culture.
Hardscapes are the hard surfaces like bridges, crosswalks, retaining walls, etc., throughout our community. Creating public art on hardscapes is a little more complex than one might imagine. For example, when it comes to our roads and bridges, the city doesn’t own a lot of them! Wilton Drive is owned and managed by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which has been unwilling to budge on many of our beautification requests. Remember the Love Always Wins bridge? That’s owned in part by Fort Lauderdale, meaning we need to get Fort Lauderdale’s approval now to paint the other side. Broward County owns the bridge on NE 26th Street near Federal.
As our city’s representative In the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), I am incredibly inspired by their new BTactical program. The BTactical program is focused on making transportation safety, especially for bicycles and pedestrians. One approach to this is art installations (i.e. a rainbow crosswalk perhaps!) which can be quickly implemented at a relatively low cost and may improve pedestrian safety as vehicular traffic slows to observe the visual changes in the road. Improving the safety of our roads is a top priority for me!
Now, let me be clear: we probably aren’t going to change FDOT’s mind and get a rainbow crosswalk on Wilton Drive. However, there is nothing to stop us from getting a rainbow crosswalk in front of the Pride Center. Dixie Highway, near the Pride Center, is owned and managed by the city. Personally, I think having a rainbow crosswalk that might slow traffic around that corner on Dixie Highway would be a great benefit to our community and having it in front of the Pride Center seems like a perfect choice!
I have added hardscapes to the agenda at the next commission meeting, in hopes of convincing my fellow commissioners that we should empower our Community Affairs Advisory Board to come up with a policy for considering hardscape improvements and perhaps bring forth their own recommendations.
I hope, with the commissions’ approval, CAAB might be able to take this project on. CAAB leadership has been a key driver being the public art you see in the city, and therefore, the most likely group to see this project through. I’d love to see a rainbow crosswalk at Pride Center, and I’d love to think much bigger and outside of the box. We have a diverse community and representing it through art is exciting.
As a commission, we have been elected to represent you and your wishes for our city, so we would love to hear your ideas! Your comments will be read out loud at the meeting, ensuring your voice is heard.
- Chris Caputo
Wilton Manors City Commissioner