A controversial rainbow crosswalk painted on Sydney’s Oxford St. in February to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the city’s famous Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been removed after the NSW Government deemed it to be a dangerous traffic hazard.
The crosswalk was originally installed on a one month trial basis at a cost of $65,000 but a safety audit identified a number of incidences of dangerous behaviour related to the crossing. A specific reference was made to the risk of pedestrians “skylarking and posing for photos.”
A change.org petition created by Independent Member for Sydney Alex Greenwich MP that attracted more than 15,000 signatures was not enough to save the crosswalk. According to the petition, “Lesbians and gay men were beaten and bashed here in 1978! The rainbow crossing recognises the history of this precinct, is great public art and breathes life into Oxford Street.”
The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, was responsible for the establishment of the rainbow crosswalk and has advocated strongly for its preservation. In a letter to the Roads Minister, Moore stated that “The trial of the crossing has demonstrated significant economic, social and cultural benefits. Most importantly, the symbolic crossing positively promotes Sydney and Oxford Street, with expected benefits for tourism and retail activity in Oxford Street.”
The removal of the crosswalk is costing the council a further $30,000