Australia: Sydney rainbow crossing to be removed for causing road safety hazard

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A rainbow road crossing in Sydney’s LGBT district, which was painted for the city’s 35th Mardi Gras celebrations, is set to be torn up later this month as visitors posing for photographs on it are said to be causing a road safety hazard.

The crossing was installed in February on Oxford Street, a central part of Sydney’s gay community and a historic location for gay rights marches, to mark the city’s 35th Mardi Gras pride parade.

The installation cost AUD$65,000 (£45,000). Officials agreed to a one-month trial, with the possibility for keeping the crossing permanently.

Officials have now announced it will be dug up on April 10 for road safety reasons, and say it will cost a further $30,000 (£25,000) to have it removed.

Much like the landmark Abbey Road crossing in London, which attracted calls for removal in 2009 after a number of traffic accidents involving Beatles fans, the Sydney rainbow crossing is facing the axe due to the high numbers of people stopping on it to take photographs.

A safety audit of the crossing reported that it presented “a high risk of pedestrian/vehicle related incidents”. Although no collisions have occurred so far, officials said the risk of future injuries and fatalities was high.

The New South Wales roads minister, Duncan Gay, said: “This trial crossing was a gesture extended to Sydney’s gay and lesbian community to honour the 35th anniversary of Mardi Gras. 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 Mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, said the crossing was “a very powerful symbol to say Sydney is an inclusive city.”

“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,” she added.

In March around 15,000 people signed a petition started by Sydney MP Alex Greenwich asking Mr Gay to keep the crossing.

Mr Gay said that he would support an “alternative permanent rainbow attraction” if the City of Sydney Council chose to create one off the roads.