Ghent, a city long known for its progressive and inclusive policies, recently installed a new rainbow zebra crossing. Filip Watteeuw, the Ghent Alderman for Mobility, announced the novelty via Twitter. “a signal that everyone is welcome in our city and that violence and intolerance are unacceptable,” said Watteeuw. But while the gesture generates a lot of positive attention, there are also critical comments about road safety and the legal status of these colorful crossings.
Let us first acknowledge the importance of this gesture. a rainbow zebra crossing, or gay crossing as it is also called, serves as a powerful symbol for the acceptance of LGBTI people. At a time when many people still struggle with discrimination and intolerance, Ghent is taking an important step forward. The colorful stripes are more than just an aesthetic choice; they contribute to a greater sense of inclusivity and acceptance.
Yet there is also a downside. Critics point to the fact that the rainbow zebra crossings do not meet the strict conditions of the traffic law, such as Article 76.3, which states that an official pedestrian crossing must be demarcated by white tires. White stripes have been chosen because they are most noticeable from a distance and therefore contribute to road safety. Please note that in the case of the Ghent zebra crossing, the crossing is also supplemented with traffic lights.
The question is: can we reconcile the two interests? Can we find a way to ensure both social and road safety? A possible solution could be to combine the rainbow crosswalk with white stripes or traffic lights, making the path both compliant with legal requirements and remaining a symbol of inclusivity. Or perhaps it is time to adjust traffic legislation to create more space for these types of social initiatives.
Whatever the solution, the new rainbow zebra crossing in Ghent has clearly struck a chord. The initiative invites dialogue and reflection, both about the acceptance of LGBTI people and about the need for clear and safe traffic rules. As always, our advice remains to show tolerance, in all aspects of life. That's ultimately what it's all about.