Crossing the road in Sydney is once again colourful with what’s believed to be the first rainbow crossing in the world to be arched like an actual rainbow. It popped up in Surry Hills back in February.
Just behind Taylor Square, curving around the intersection of Bourke and Campbell streets, the bright installation was timed for Mardi Gras and is a symbolic statement of support for the LGBTQI+ community.
The crossing favours pedestrians and cyclists over cars (green lights for motorists are only triggered when a car approaches) and is accessible (it’s at footpath level, so folks don’t need to step down from the curb to cross the road).
It’s around for six months. After that the city will assess via review if it should stay.
The first Sydney rainbow crossing was installed in 2013 to celebrate the 35th birthday of Mardi Gras. That one ran across Darlinghurst’s Taylor Square. In a controversial move that enraged the community it was asphalted over in the middle of the night because of “safety concerns”, according to then roads minister Duncan Gay.
“By installing this beautiful crossing as a symbol of pride in our city’s diversity, Sydney joins other cities around the world, including … Hollywood, San Francisco, Paris and most recently in Wellington, New Zealand,” said Sydney’s lord mayor Clover Moore in a statement.
“San Francisco artist Gilbert Baker’s rainbow flag has been a symbol of those first bloody struggles of the gay rights movement. The rainbow flag has come to represent the LGBTQI community’s struggles for liberation, survival and equality.”
Rainbow crossings started popping up in 2012 in West Hollywood, Los Angeles, as part of Gay Pride Month celebrations, followed by Tel Aviv, Israel, and then Sydney. The removal in 2013 of Sydney’s rainbow triggered a global movement called DIY Rainbow that got people drawing rainbow crossings in chalk in protest.
“The new rainbow crossing is a hugely symbolic statement of support for the LGBTQI community after a tumultuous time with the marriage-equality plebiscite,” says DIY Rainbow founder James Brechney. “This beautiful gesture brings a smile to everyone who walks across it.”
The City of Sydney worked with Sydney Civil (a civil engineering company) and the state government to ensure it is safe for pedestrians and motorists.
“This is a significant piece of public art, and it is a fantastic addition to our city streets in the lead up to Mardi Gras,” says state member for Sydney Alex Greenwich. “The work they have done to upgrade the crossing also shows how we can build a sustainable and livable city where our roads are for pedestrians and cyclists as well.”
The rainbow crossing is at the intersection of Bourke and Campbell streets in Surry Hills.
This article was updated on April 12, 2019.