New pride crosswalk on Maine Street in Brunswick. Photo contributed by Liz Armstrong.

After seeing Brunswick’s new rainbow pride crosswalk, Topsham resident Liz Armstrong called the town of Topsham urging them to follow suit in preparation for pride month, starting June 1.

Pride month celebrates the LGBTQ community and commemorates the 1969 New York City Stonewall riots that propelled the U.S. gay rights movement.

Armstrong said painting a pride crosswalk would signal to town visitors and residents that Topsham is an accepting society.

“I think we should aspire as a community to be welcoming to all kinds of people,” she said.

Armstrong said Belfast and Ellsworth also have pride crosswalks, and Topsham should too.

Topsham’s Assistant Town Manager Mark Waltz responded to Armstrong’s request with an e-mail: “The primary and arguably only purpose of a crosswalk is to get pedestrians safely across the street. The crosswalks need to be unmistakably marked not only for safety, but because there is potential civil and criminal liability involved if a motorist fails to stop for the crosswalk and or a pedestrian is hit in the crosswalk.”


Waltz said insurance companies and civil suits take road markings into account, as they appropriate liability for crashes. He also noted the three designs suggested by the Maine Department of Transportation in his e-mail. All three designs include white lines on a solid background.

After driving over Brunswick’s multi-colored crosswalk a few times, Waltz said,  “I find my attention is directed to the pavement marking due to all the color and it makes it harder to notice a pedestrian in it. If a person is walking across the white bars on a dark background, I find the pedestrian stands out more.”

Armstrong disagreed.

“I actually find the opposite is true. The colorful crosswalk in Brunswick is not only aesthetically appealing but is arresting in terms of making one more aware of it and drawing attention to people approaching it; on the sidewalk or stepping onto it,” wrote Armstrong in an email to Waltz.

A motorcyclist leaves skid marks on Brunswick’s pride crosswalk. Moderation Brewing

Brunswick Town Manager John Eldridge said the Brunswick pride crosswalk was approved at a May 2 town meeting and was completed at 5 a.m. on May 24.

On Tuesday, less than 24 hours after the crosswalk was painted, two motorcyclists vandalized it by creating skid marks.


According to police, the incident occurred shortly before 8:30 p.m. The bikers also drove over the sidewalks on Maine Street, police said.

Responding officers were unable to locate the motorcycles, believed to have then headed across the Frank J. Wood Bridge into Topsham.

“The town is attempting to identify those who were involved,” Eldridge said. “Of course, it is disappointing, as the council intended the crosswalk to send a message of inclusion and acceptance.”

The pride crosswalk lies between Brunswick’s Bank of America branch and Moderation Brewing. Mattie Daughtry, a state senator and co-owner of Moderation, recorded videos showing a motorcyclist repeatedly running over, and leaving skid marks on, the crosswalk.

“It was less than 12 hours since it was painted, and unfortunately, some individuals were trying to vandalize it, ” she said. “They were aggressively revving their engines, taking their bikes and driving them up on the sidewalk, violating the vehicle law. They were yelling about destroying it and then trying to burn their tires repeatedly on the rainbow crosswalk. It happened in front of patrons, people trying to use the sidewalk, and all the businesses on the block had outside seating, and it was just a destructive incident.”

She went on to add why the crosswalk is important to Brunswick.

“I think it is a statement loud and clear from our town and our community that everyone is welcome, ” Daughtry said. “We are not only celebrating pride, but we are celebrating kindness and joy. These incidents are unfortunate and hurtful, and it is very concerning for the safety of folks on the sidewalk and pedestrians, but they are a vocal minority.”

“I think the incident is childish, and it is the destruction of property which should not be happening,” said Brunswick Town Councilor Kathy Wilson, who advocated for the crosswalk that reminds us that Brunswick is an accepting community. That we believe in everybody and that everyone has rights. We all have the right to be here and be who we are provided that we do not hurt anyone else.”

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