A City of Sydney spokeswoman said that council was complying with instructions issued by the Roads and Maritime Service (RMS) and that the crossing was likely to be removed “quickly”.
“The City asked that the crossing remain for 12 months due to its popularity, but the RMS is enforcing their instruction to remove it after the one month trial. The feedback we have received shows the rainbow crossing has made a positive impact on local business in Oxford St and to the GLBT community,” the spokeswoman said.
Roads Minister Duncan Gay and Premier Barry O’Farrell rebuffed repeated entreaties from the council and Sydney state MP Alex Greenwich to allow the crossing to remain or to defer its removal until its popularity and safety could be more comprehensively assessed.
An online petition started by Greenwich to keep the crossing gathered almost 15,000 signatures.
A spokeswoman from Gay’s office confirmed that the crossing was due to be removed this week and stood by the decision, claiming it was for safety reasons.
“City of Sydney Council carried out a safety evaluation of the trial, and identified unsafe pedestrian behaviour including people lying on the road to take photographs. This behaviour warrants removal of the markings,” the spokeswoman said.
In an interview with radio station 2UE, Greenwich said the perceived safety threat was exaggerated.
“A lot of those photos of people lying on the crossing were taken during the Mardi Gras parade itself when there was no traffic. People incorporated the crossing into their photos of the floats – firefighters and police marching in the parade did it, Clover Moore and I did it. It made for great photos that went around the world,” Greenwich said.
The one-month instalment will come at a cost of $110,000 to City of Sydney ratepayers after an extra $35,000 was slated for the crossing’s removal in February.
RMS has offered to work with Sydney Council on ways to bring the rainbow motif back to Oxford St in ways that “do not compromise road safety,” such as painting footpaths, benches and traffic light control boxes.