Black tire marks were cleaned off Midtown’s iconic rainbow crosswalks Tuesday morning after street racers left behind damage after doing doughnuts at the popular intersection over the weekend.
Video shared to Instagram by ATL Scoop shows a white vehicle doing doughnuts and burning out in the center of the intersection at 10th Street and Piedmont Avenue as traffic is held up and a firework explodes in the center. A crowd can be seen surrounding the intersection and near the vehicle as it drifts around.
Street racing has been an issue affecting the Atlanta area for two years, Atlanta Department of Transportation Commissioner Josh Rowan told reporters Tuesday as crews cleaned up the crosswalk with pressure washers and “some elbow grease with a stiff broom.”
Authorities consider laying drag or doing doughnuts and burnouts as part of street racing, and it falls under a multi-agency attempt to curtail the issue. As of Thursday, police are offering a $2,000 reward for anyone with information on the street racers who damaged the rainbow crosswalks.
“We’ll probably get the worst of it — the rubber track, the tire tracks — up now,” Rowan said. “And then just because of the traffic building, we’ll pull off and send the night crew out. They’re going to pressure wash the entire thing.”
The crosswalks were initially installed temporarily for Atlanta Pride in 2015. Then in 2017, for the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that the rainbow crosswalks would become permanent in recognition of the contributions of the city’s LGBTQ community.
“You can see where removing the tire tracks, it’s really actually cleaning the crosswalk, so we want to get the grunge and the grit off the whole thing,” Rowan said. “So by (Wednesday) morning, it should actually look better than before all of the street racing and burnouts that happened here.”
Rowan said that if the crosswalk had been more clean, the tire marks may have adhered better to the paint and wouldn’t have come off as easily.
“The saving grace was probably the dirt that was on the crosswalk,” he said, adding that crews wouldn’t be cleaning the center of the intersection, as overnight rain had already started making it fade away.
Midtown residents commenting on the neighborhood’s association Instagram story about the incident were both upset that the crosswalks were damaged and by the prevalence of street racing in the city.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Public Safety coordinated with state and local law enforcement agencies for the 40th wave of its crime suppression and anti-street racing initiative. During the Feb. 12-13 weekend operation, there were 431 vehicle stops, 230 citations and arrests, and 377 warnings, the department posted on Facebook, though it’s not clear what those offenses were.
In August 2020, Atlanta approved an ordinance that sets penalties of up to a $1,000 fine or six months in jail for those who attend street racing events, even if they are not driving in them.
“We just want to make sure the crosswalk is back to a presentable level, and really, kind of let folks know that we take seriously the work we do and don’t like having folks come in and tear it up,” Rowan said.