Drab, monochrome pedestrian crossings are so last year – south London is now home to the first permanent rainbow crossing in the UK.
The roads of Herne Hill have been given a makeover to reflect the colours of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag, and a total of four multicoloured walkways now join the area's train station with the greenery of Brockwell Park. Lambeth Council green-lit the colourful paintwork to ‘show solidarity with the LGBT+ community in the borough’.
Though several temporary rainbows popped up around the capital during Pride month (Greenwich, Woolwich, Plumstead and Wimbledon all jazzed up their roads in a similar way) this is the first crossing in the UK to become a permanent fixture. It puts London in good company with Sydney, Paris and Vancouver – all cities with rainbow crossings all year round.
What’s the point of all this? Well, homophobic and transphobic hate crimes have doubled in the UK over the last five years, and according to figures released by Stonewall, more than a third of LGBTQ+ people don’t feel comfortable walking down the street while holding a partner’s hand. Herne Hill’s gesture of solidarity comes after a succession of serious homophobic incidents in the capital – in May, a lesbian couple was attacked on a London bus. Both women were treated in hospital for facial injuries – they were attacked by five men after refusing demands to kiss each other.
Herne Hill’s rainbow glow-up might not solve those problems, but it’s still a nice nod to the LGBTQ+ community at a time when it feels seriously needed in the capital.