Over the Oxford Street Rainbow
A plan to paint an intersection on Oxford Street with the colours of the rainbow flag has won broad community support but some are questioning the cost. Serkan Ozturk reports.
The future of Oxford Street is literally set to look a little bit brighter with two busy intersections to be painted the colours of the rainbow to recognise the positive and long-lasting influence the LGBTI community has had in the area.
Following a recent City of Sydney meeting, council has agreed to spend $75,000 to paint signal-controlled pedestrian crossings at Taylor Square and Whitlam Square in time for next year’s Mardi Gras festival starting in February. There is even talk Council will paint all three intersections at Taylor to create a truly unique rainbow triangle.
Though the proposal seems to have wide community support, the amount deemed necessary by Council to paint a few colours on the road has left some scratching their heads and others offering to go to Bunnings on a Saturday and do the job themselves.
There are hopes the rainbow-coloured crossings will become permanent with Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) indicating it is likely to give its approval following risk evaluations to be undertaken by Council.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore said unlike other Council road projects RMS approval was required in this case as the major crossings are on a State road.
“RMS has indicated approval is likely to be granted, if they are initially installed on a trial basis with a full risk evaluation undertaken,” she told SX.
“Initial analysis indicates there may be safety benefits in making pedestrian crossings stand out.”
The plan has the unanimous support of Council.
Liberal councillor Christine Forster told SX the crossings will help revitalise the area and let people know they are in the heart of Sydney’s LGBTI community.
“They will be a really colourful addition to the streetscape in an area which desperately needs rejuvenation,” she said.
A City spokesperson defended the cost of the project but did say that all three crossings at Taylor Square may one day display the rainbow colours.
“The City did consider all the crossings around Taylor Square, but as it’s a trial, decided to focus efforts on the two major crossings for now,” the spokesperson told SX.
“The costs cover traffic management, materials including paint and installation costs, as well as risk assessment and safety evaluations.”
Though the rainbow-coloured crossings will be a first for Australia, there are already a number in Europe and the US including one in West Hollywood, which according to its creator, the Danish-American artist Martin Duvander, has now become a tourist attraction in its own right.
“Yes, it has become a tourist destination,” Duvander told SX. “So much so that those tourist buses now stop at the intersection and tourists get out and takes pictures of it!”
Duvander, himself heterosexual, told SX his idea came about in an attempt to “raise awareness for love” and also funds for local charities.
“It’s a symbol that LGBTI people should have the freedom to love anybody and legally have the same rights as everyone else,” he added.
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone will report back to Council in September 2013 on the outcomes of the trial rainbow crossings.
YOUR SAY: WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT THE RAINBOW CROSSING?
I think it’s absolutely wonderful. We are the gayest, proudest city in Australia and I think Sydney needs to be shouting that from the rooftops. It would be so fabulous not only for Mardi Gras but all year round. I think a rainbow triangle would be a great idea but it’s about cost. But whatever it is, pride flags on the road are just a fabulous idea and I congratulate the Lord Mayor. Cate Faehrmann, Greens MP
I think it looks great. The rainbow is colourful and certainly a lot better than black bitumen. The only drawback I think would be people racing each other in the different coloured lanes. $75,000 seems pretty steep just to paint some lines on the road. I’d do it for $50 maybe. Matt Real Food (Oxford St business)
I sing upstairs at Ginger’s and I think the rainbow crossing is a really great idea, and it’s much better than the lairy building across the road (T2). Having it all three intersections at Taylor Square will be great because then you are also adding the trans triangle symbol into the equation as well which is very much prominent in our community at the moment. I think $75,000 though is too much because the community would paint it for free. Eleni, Singer
No way, why would we? I want to get rid of that stupid pink building (T2) across the road there. Why did we waste all that money on that? We could have put it to donations, look after people. And now we want to paint the road rainbow ... Jesus, stupid idiots – what a waste of money. Jacob
I think it’s important to show pride in gay and lesbian rights on Oxford Street but for that amount of money I’m not too sure. I think one crossing at Taylor Square would be adequate. Isaac