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.

melbcrossings

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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32 thoughts

    1. And I feel this is what people will question if more of them get changed… maybe you relate to the standard symbol more than the newer female one!

  1. I can’t imagine spending tax money to change the figure to o e with a skirt- the words are probably a better option

    1. Some bloggers in the comments reminded me that not everyone speaks English, but it works in the countries that use words instead of symbols so I don’t know…

    1. It depends how many people object to it I guess? I think a few people will probably criticize it on Twitter etc but not much more. And I feel it will be just as many females as males, questioning why a girl has to wear a skirt etc. But maybe it will be fine! We will see 🙂

      Thanks for commenting.

    1. I was very ignorant and didn’t even take the language barrier into account… however the cities that have this in place seem to work efficiently, maybe even without understanding the language people know due to the way the traffic stops and the flow of pedestrians cross? Not sure but yes, thanks for highlighting that for me!

      1. Context helps a lot because if you see packaging in foreign languages you can sometimes figure out what it says as you know it in your own language. Things are pretty much the same in most places. They just have different words for objects.

      2. Yeah that is true, many things are universal and we pick up on them. Pretty interesting to think about!

  2. Sometimes we should just not over think. People need to stop complaining. The symbol for girls has been this for a long time, now why complain about that. Every person will express themselves however they want so of course not all girls will look same. It’s however the sentiment that should matter.

    1. I understand the female symbol has always been that, but it seems the more you try to be politically correct, there is always something to throw a spanner in the works and I know for a fact people will! So many things that have always been in place are being challenged, for better or for worse, but it seems things that have been always been tradition aren’t particularly safe. Also some will say that changing the lights at all is overthinking, but everyone has a different opinion on it. As I said I think it is pretty cool 🙂

      Thanks for your insight!

    1. Oh you have red and green? I assumed everywhere had ‘walk’ and ‘don’t walk’ but I cannot remember what was there when I last visited 🙂

    1. Yeah I very ignorantly didn’t take into account language barriers, although the walk and don’t walk seems to work efficiently wherever it is implemented! But I like colour, so I am happy with the red and green human.

      Thanks for the link, about to take a look now!

  3. Very interesting, thanks for sharing! I think it’s always productive to challenge what we consider “default” in the world around us, and society often defaults to male-oriented symbols and language (ex. notice how often “you guys” is used to describe a predominantly female group).

    1. Yeah I do agree that the world defaults to more masculine terms (mankind, you guys etc) and it is interesting to see how the world is focusing on this more and more today. This was a reminder of that in this post.

      Thanks for reading!

  4. personally, I think it looks like a plump old lady, lol. I don’t care what the symbol as long as I can cross the road without being hit by something on wheels.

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