Rainbow crossing caused a stir in Bellingen

Men at work
Men at work

Overnight in Bellingen, a rainbow crossing appeared in place of the zebra one on Hyde St.

Thursday morning it was there, running from the pharmacy on the south side to the IGA on the north, with both ends carrying the text ‘Love is love’.

However, by 1.30pm council road workers were busy restoring it to the standard format. A passerby who had been delighted by the new look quizzed one of the men who was wielding a roller full of white paint.

“Why are you doing that?” she said. “It’s beautiful. Can’t you just leave it?”

Looking south across Hyde St

Looking south across Hyde St

But he was unmoved.

“No, we can’t,” he said. “Look, it’s illegal. It’s basically vandalism.” 

This was the line taken by Bellingen Shire Council as well in a subsequent media release, which stated:

“The pedestrian crossing was painted in different colours thereby rendering it ineffective under the Australian Road Rules which clearly state that a pedestrian crossing must be placed with white stripes.

“The defaced crossing makes pedestrians vulnerable and provides no legal means for their protection in crossing Hyde St.”

Council’s deputy general manager of operations, Matt Fanning, said, “This busy area is currently undergoing the Main Street Beautification Project and it is disappointing that the council now has to spend its limited resources in immediately responding to this situation by re-painting the crossing.

“Council urges any member of the community to come forward with information which could lead to the identification of the individual/s responsible for this event.”

Council’s media release added that any information relating to this event could be reported to council on 6655-7300 or to the Bellingen Police on 6655-1444.

The Nambucca Heads and Valla Chamber of Commerce was interested in the prospect of a rainbow crossing in Bowra St – as a symbol of an inclusive community which celebrates all walks. It was reasoned that the rainbow crossing could also be good for Bowra St businesses and tourism, as it would likely become a ‘selfie’ spot for locals and visitors.

But safety compliance issues saw chamber walk away from the rainbow crossing idea – and the business lobby is now hoping to establish a rainbow walk on the footpath outside the police station. This concept remains before council but a determination has been deferred until after the marriage equality plebiscite has run its course.