Home' Facility Perspectives : Vol 11 No 1 Contents 92
FACILITY PERSPECTIVES | VOLUME 11 NUMBER 1
| DIVERSITY IN FM
and family issues, including establishing
Victoria’s first-ever community maternal
and child health services.
The City of Yarra, which floated the
tribute crossing idea, was inspired by a
similar endeavour in Wellington, New
Zealand, honouring an equally progressive
woman, Kate Sheppard, who helped
women get the right to vote in 1893.
So, we were fully aware that the
concept had legs, and by looking at the
Wellington model, we learnt how our Kiwi
cousins had managed to get around any
red tape roadblocks.
Furthermore, expanding gender
representations in pedestrian-crossing
symbols has been progressively rolled out
in Dutch and German cities; one example in
Berlin depicts same-sex couples dancing.
Our team’s first task was to create
a working signal prototype and female
images depicting a 1920s-style silhouette
my eight-year-old daughter thinks the
finished result looks like Mary Poppins,
without an umbrella!
Budget-wise, there were no issues,
as we were able to absorb the relatively
minimal costs when funding of $250,000
was announced for a new Bridge Road
pedestrian crossing at Bosisto Street.
Our main challenge with making the
council’s tribute a reality, however, was
how to overcome potential legibility and
enforceability problems, as this had never
been done before in Australia.
In layman’s terms, as a male figure is
entrenched in the Victorian road safety
rules, we had to be 100 per cent sure
that implementing a non-standard symbol
would not lead to confusion.
If it did, then this could create an
enforcement issue – for example, someone
booked by police for jaywalking at the
crossing might be able to argue in court
that the symbols were not legal.
Initially, we were only considering a
green ‘walking woman’, based on legal
advice that it was not as critical as the red one,
which flashes to warn people not to walk. But
we ended up going with both: a green walking
Mary and a red stationary Mary.
In its most simple form, the design is a
female form stencil behind the light, but
we were careful to maintain a reasonable
likeness to traditional figures, as the more
similar they looked, the smaller the risk.
Our team completed an exhaustive risk
assessment, and by developing a monitoring
schedule to observe the behaviour of people
using the crossing prototype, we ensured
that there was no confusion.
The positive results convinced all
key internal and external stakeholders,
including the City of Yarra, that any risks
could be appropriately managed.
We then granted a temporary 12-month
approval to the non-standard symbols
under a memorandum of authorisation
(MOA) – basically enabling the display of a
different image on a traffic-control device.
This led to an announcement on
International Women’s Day that the iconic
Mary Rogers was to be honoured as a traffic
signal icon, prompting the Premier to tweet:
‘Well done VicRoads and the City of Yarra’.
The compelling story generated a
remarkable amount of media coverage in
Australia and overseas, including articles in
the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail and the
When we unveiled the new crossing two
months later, it was an immediate success
with the public, with many snapping
pictures on their phones, including the
descendants of Mary Rogers, who were
guests of honour at the ceremony.
The family sent us a handwritten card
thanking us for honouring Mary in such an
endearing way, and the card still has pride
of place in our office.
I am delighted to reveal that the Mary
Rogers crossing, pending a positive review of
pedestrian behaviour, is likely to receive an
extension of its temporary 12-month tenure.
Meanwhile, VicRoads CEO John Merritt
has endorsed a Committee for Melbourne
initiative called Equal Crossings. Inspired by
the Mary Rogers project, it aims to roll out
1:1 male and female pedestrian crossing
symbols across the city to ‘promote gender
equality, reduce unconscious bias and
stimulate public discussion’.
The project team unveiled the first
retrofitted pedestrian crossing at the
intersection of Flinders and Swanston
streets – arguably the CBD’s highest-
profile intersection – on 9 March.
Featuring female and male figures, the
revamp is being made possible under a similar
MOA as was used for the Richmond crossing,
granting temporary status.
But such interim measures may soon
be eclipsed as, once again, Mary Rogers is
pioneering a way forward for gender equality.
Our policy people have prepared a
submission for all jurisdictions to consider
a change of the national road rules to
enable similar changes to pedestrian
This is incredibly exciting, and means that
the joint effort in Richmond with our local
government partner will end up being a
major catalyst for significant change, just as
Mary Rogers pioneered change in the 1920s.
Fundamentally, pedestrian safety is a
critical element of our work at VicRoads,
and I believe that the Mary Rogers tribute
crossing does a fantastic job of illustrating
that in a unique and fun way.
Special Mary Rogers safety stickers at the new crossing
Links Archive Vol 10 No 4 Vol 11 No 2 Navigation Previous Page Next Page