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This Rainbow Crossing In Sydney, Australia Has Caused Quite An Uproar
April 9, 2013
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A rainbow pedestrian crossing is causing quite a stir in Sydney, Australia.

It was painted on a road in the city's gay district in February to celebrate Sydney's gay and lesbian Mardi Gras, which attracts 400,000 people each year.

But now, the crossing is due to be ripped up because it poses a ''horrendous'' safety risk, according to the Roads Minister of the New South Wales government.

The minister - Duncan Gay - says pedestrians are stopping to sit and/or pose for photographs on the crossing.

"This trial crossing was a gesture extended to Sydney's gay and lesbian community to honour the 35th anniversary of Mardi Gras," said Gay. "But behaviour we have seen has set off alarm bells at the high risk of injuries and fatalities at this crossing, with more than 15 incidents in a month."

The crossing cost nearly $70,000 to put in. The government agreed to try it for a month but now plans to dig it up for another $30,000.

Sydney's lord mayor, Clover Moore, told the Sydney Morning Herald that any safety risk could be managed by having either police or security staff monitoring the crossing at night.

Moore said there's a lot of support to keep it. "It's a very powerful symbol to say Sydney is an inclusive city," she said.

"I'm incredibly disappointed that we're going to have to spend $30,000 removing something that is a beautiful piece of public art and is very good for the local economy of the area."


Supporters also point out that no one reported any accidents related to the crossing during the month-long trial.

The Guardian says a safety audit found that people were sitting on the stripes or posing for photos, mostly when the "walk" signal was on.

The report found there to be "a high risk of pedestrian/vehicle related incidents" and "potential safety issues for road users".

It suggested either removal or ''some form of night time marshal (police or council ranger) to encourage pedestrians not to stay on the crossing''.

15,000 people have signed a petition to keep it.

The petition said: "Lesbians and gay men were beaten and bashed on Oxford Street in 1978 and homophobic violence was rife for years. To now have our flag on our street celebrates how far we have come and is a tribute to the battles we have won."

They say the crossing should become a landmark like London's Abbey Road, made famous by The Beatles.

The minister said he's happy to work with city council on an "alternative permanent rainbow attraction".

The crossing could be dug up as early as tonight. Workers have to grind off the paint and top layer of the road, then lay a new layer of asphalt.

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