Equality for pedestrian lights in Melbourne

7 March 2017

Written by: Sophie Taylor

Melbourne responds to the call for gender balance in traffic lights.

Ten female pedestrian traffic lights are being installed in Melbourne’s CBD today in an effort to tackle gender inequality towards women.

Not-for-profit organisation Committee for Melbourne pushed for the change.

Installation of the new lights began shortly after peak hour traffic on Tuesday morning at popular intersections in the Melbourne CBD.

Committee for Melbourne chief executive, Martine Letts, spoke to the ABC, saying that having female representation featured on traffic signals is important in promoting gender equality in the world’s most liveable city.

“These symbols are a practical and meaningful way to demonstrate that in fact 50 per cent of our population is female and should therefore also be represented at traffic lights.”

Minister for Women, Fiona Richardson, is in favour of the change.

“There are many small – but symbolically significant – ways that women are excluded from public space,” she said to the ABC.

According to Richardson, the use of female figures in pedestrian crossings will make Melbourne more inclusive of women.

This isn’t the first time that female walking signals have been used.

In 2016, a popular Richmond crossing was changed to a female signal in tribute to Victoria’s first female councillor, Mary Rogers.

Following last year’s traffic light change, the 12-month trial was approved by VicRoads and funded by the Committee for Melbourne and Bayswater company Camlex Electric.

Ms. Richardson said that no tax-payer money was used in the project.

However, sceptics of the initiative have stated that the plan is political correctness gone overboard.

In an interview with 7 News, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said that he is in doubt of the initiative’s effectiveness, and that it is more likely to generate disdain than help to promote equality.

“I’m all for doing anything we can for gender equity, but really?” He said.

Evan Mulholland from the Institute of Public Affairs stated that he believes there are better ways to use the funds such as traffic congestion than by changing expensive pedestrian lights.