Austin streets—no, literally, the streets—have gotten more colorful lately, in ways both celebratory and safety-conscious. This month, crews hit the streets with paint, rollers, and brushes to transform walkways and bus lanes in the central city.

Following the rainbow

Around the world, painting streets and public areas the colors of the Pride flag (in different variations over the years) is not uncommon in cities around the country, especially in areas that have traditionally been home to informal districts of clubs and other establishments oriented toward an LGBTQIA clientele. The intersection of Bettie Naylor (Fourth) and Colorado streets in Downtown Austin is at the center of such a district, and it was thus adorned with freshly painted crosswalks to celebrate that status on October 11, the 2021 National Coming Out Day. 

Joined by members of the Austin City Council and the city’s LGBTQIA+ Resource Advisory Commission, Mayor Steve Adler announced the impending crosswalk painting Monday morning ribbon-cutting on the intersection. The crosswalk was closed for the day in order for it to be painted in colors reflecting those on the Progressive Pride flag and was reopened that evening.

According to a city announcement, the crosswalk design is based on community input and, in addition to the traditional light-color spectrum used as a basis of Pride flags in the past, includes black and brown stripes to represent people of color as well as baby blue, pink, and white, representing the transgender community. It is especially resonant that the location of the embellishment is on a section of Fourth Street that in 2012 was renamed to honor Bettie Naylor, a local advocate, activist, and lobbyist for the rights of women and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities.

City workers painted two Austin intersections the colors of the Progressive Pride flag on MondayAustin Mobility

The crosswalks at Fourth/Bettie Naylor streets painted for National Coming Out DayVia Austin Mobility

As part of Austin Transportation's Artbox program, three nearby utility boxes near the intersection will also be decorated. The Artbox at the southwest corner of Bettie Naylor and Colorado Street will feature the original 1978 Gilbert Baker Pride Flag, the 2017 Philadelphia Pride Flag, the 2018 Progress Pride Flag by Daniel Quasar, and the 2021 Intersex Progressive Pride Flag, designed by Valentino Vecchietti, according to a city press release.

In his address, Adler noted that Austin is now the US city with the largest per capita LGBTQ population. Monday was also the day the city released the 2021 LGBTQIA+ Quality of Life study.

Lavaca's dedicated transit lane is getting a refresh.Austin Mobility

​​Red, red lines

While not as festive as the Pride glow-up at Bettie Naylor/Fourth and Colorado streets, a refresh of a prominent downtown street will brighten up the place. Beginning this month, workers will repaint the dedicated transit lanes on Lavaca between Fourth and 18th streets beginning in October, bringing them back to the bright red they were originally bestowed with early last year. The lanes are painted to make it clear that they are reserved for buses and other public transit vehicles. The project will take place in five phases, roughly in order of intersections with cross streets along Lavaca.