Lonely Planet Writer

The installation of female pedestrian signals in Melbourne has ignited debate in Australia

In an effort to move towards one-to-one male and female representation across the state of Victoria, the city of Melbourne has unveiled ten female traffic-light figures on its road crossings. However, not everyone approves of the new initiative.

Female traffic light signals are installed in Melbourne. Image: Stefan Postles/Getty Images
Female pedestrian signals are installed in Melbourne. Image: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

The female pedestrian signals were installed to celebrate International Women’s Day, and will remain in place on a trial basis for a year. The Committee for Melbourne is behind the initiative, and the cost was borne by a group of businesses and community groups.

Chief executive of the Committee for Melbourne, Martine Letts, said that having only male silhouettes on the lights discriminates against women. She would like to see both sexes equally represented on all pedestrian crossings, and her group hopes that this will be achieved in time through a legislative change to the Road Safety Act. It would be a costly endeavour, however, as it costs an average of $8400 to change just six traffic lights, and according to the Victorian road corporation, VicRoads, there are more than 3900 sets of signals across Melbourne and five other rural cities alone.

Female traffic light signals are installed in Melbourne. Image: Stefan Postles/Getty Images
Female traffic light signals are installed in Melbourne. Image: Stefan Postles/Getty Images

Although some people approve of the initiative, others are critical and the subject has ignited much debate around Australia. Criticism includes whether the move was overly PC, why the female figure had to be wearing a dress, and whether the money could have been better spent elsewhere? Nonetheless, the females silhouettes can be seen in action around Melbourne, guiding pedestrians to safety across the roads.

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