This is your ordinary city-centre crosswalk with a twist. As I was crossing these traffic lights a couple weeks back with a friend, he pointed up at the lights as we walked. He already knew why these lights were different and decided to enlighten me… I was pretty impressed.
It is little things like this that can break the cycle of a boring, dull, routine walk to work and actually help us escape the robotic commute and spend a moment thinking about something else.
I wasn’t aware of what the reason for this installment was at the time. But I went back a few days ago and captured a video as I crossed one of the modified pedestrian crossings.
It is a female! I wonder how many people look up and notice the difference? After all it is another red and green light with that woodpecker sound effect only slightly different from the rest. But that triangular skirt shaping the figure makes a big statement. I just needed to know what that statement was exactly…
The crossing can be found on the intersection between Swanston and Flinders Street, just before crossing the Princes Bridge.
This ABC News article I found provides some information about the lights. It turns out that the government has backed the move to change some of the traffic lights in a 12 month trial period, aiming to narrow the gap between male and female symbols to 50/50 across the State of Victoria in a push for gender equality.
More information can be found on the link and on the internet in general. It will be interesting to see if this does spread through Melbourne and the wider state, there are currently ten of these in the areas I highlighted on the map above.
And as expected Twitter was mixed, with some people playing devils advocate and highlighting a couple of issues they had with the implementation. What makes the original symbol a man? Can a female not wear trousers and have short hair? Is assuming that girls wear skirts worse? What if the skirt is in fact a Scotsman in a kilt? Some were in favour of the ‘WALK’ and ‘DON’T WALK’ wording used in the USA and elsewhere to end the arguments altogether.
As always, the borderlines can be a little hazy.
I agree with changing the symbols to wording if people aren’t happy with the current figure, as adding a skirt and claiming it is a girl will no doubt add fuel to the fire, as you know, not every girl wears a skirt.
But I don’t want to look that deep into it. I see it like a piece of street art, designed to be noticed and get heads turning and people talking. I like it. Sometimes the world can go a little overboard with such statements and I don’t agree with every protest in the world, but this for me is a nice break from the norm.
What do you think? Do you like the addition of the girl symbol or would you simply prefer ‘WALK’ and ‘DON’T WALK’ and get rid of the symbols altogether? Are you happy with the current figure or is it too ‘man-like’? Let me know as it is for sure a talking point and I will have to see if I spot any more changes in the city.
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