Crossing the rainbow

Our latest public art project - a beautiful rainbow crossing across Oxford St - was installed on Monday night.

In December Council supported my Lord Mayoral Minute to install rainbow crossings on Oxford Street to celebrate Mardi Gras and our GLBT community.

After a long delay, the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) approved the crossing at the end of last week. However, they imposed conditions which added to the cost of the project. They also decided the crossing would have to be removed after just one month.

On Monday night Council again voted on the future of the project. With the support of Robyn Kemmis (IND), John Mant (IND), Jenny Green (IND), Robert Kok (IND), Linda Scott (ALP) and Irene Doutney (GRN) the project was given the go-ahead.

It was disappointing that the rainbow crossing could not be supported unanimously, with Christine Forster (LIB), Edward Mandla (LIB) and Angela Vithoulkas (LVS) voting against it.

The City had planned to install two crossings at a cost of around $75,000, however approval conditions put in place by the RMS meant the cost for a single crossing increased. While Council set aside $110,000 for the project, staff were able to complete it under budget.

The final cost was around $65,500 which includes paint and traffic management on the night, road safety audits before and after, video surveillance, Variable Message Boards and crossing markings.

The paint used is compliant with RMS specifications for bus lanes, school zones and cycleways. It has a special slip resistance to ensure the safety of motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.

I made clear during debate about the crossing on Monday night that there was strong community support. The reaction over the past few days has shown this to be true, with almost 4,000 people signing the petition in just a few days.

I hope that the NSW Government and RMS take heed of the popular support for the rainbow crossing and withdraw their condition that the crossing be removed at the end of the March.

I strongly believe the crossing is a much needed and worthwhile investment for Oxford Street and Mardi Gras.

The City invests around $3.5 million in cash, and one million dollars in-kind, for a number of festivals and events including Sydney Writers Festival, Sydney Film Festival, Sydney Fringe Festival and Sydney Mardi Gras - one of our biggest events.

Sydney city's GLBT community is the largest in Australia. Mardi Gras attracts almost 400,000 people each year and injects around $30 million into Sydney's economy.

Rainbow crossings were first installed in West Hollywood in 2012 and public support has been very positive. The rainbow crosswalks in West Hollywood have created such a positive buzz, Hollywood tour buses now detour to make them part of the show.

I believe our rainbow crossing will attract the same attention bringing much needed economic activity and tourism to Oxford Street.

I've loved seeing everyone's Instagram pictures, Facebook updates and Twitter reactions to the crossing - make sure you sign the petition to make it a permanent landmark on Oxford Street.

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