Chiswick reacts to the new rainbow crossings with bemused tolerance

Image above: Rainbow crossing at the junction of Chiswick High Rd and Turnham Green Terrace

Four new crossings to promote “love and inclusivity” says Cllr Ranjit Gill

The newly painted rainbow crossings at the junction of Chiswick High Rd, Turnham Green Terrace and Annandale Rd took most people by surprise this morning.

They appeared overnight and workmen will be back again to finish them tonight, before a grand opening ceremony at 10am on Friday.

“What are they for?” was the baffled reaction of most customers talking about them in Snappy Snaps, on the corner between two of the crossings. None the wiser, most were of the opinion that whatever they were for, it was nice that they brightened the place up.

The colours in the crossings are those of the Progressive Pride flag, which celebrates LGBTQ people and also Black Lives Matter. The crossings have been organised by the West London Queer Project and Ollie Saunders, one of the directors of Chiswick Flower Market, with the support of Chiswick Councillor Ranjit Gill, one of the Conservative group of councillors on Hounslow Council, who is himself gay.

Cllr Ranjit Gill

“I took it up with the Council to bring it to their attention that we needed it” Ranjit told The Chiswick Calendar. “It’s an all-inclusive thing to show that everybody needs to be included in our community, whether they are gay or transgender, Black, whoever they are.

“Unfortunately, homophobia still exists. You can see some people are against this, but we are all tax-payers and we all need to be included. All other boroughs are doing this, so Hounslow should too.

“Youngsters these days should be made aware that you can be who you are and express yourself, whoever you are.”

Ranjit and his partner of 43 years Peter have both experience homophobic abuse.

Aubrey Crawley

Aubrey Crawley, founder of the West London Queer Project, told The Chiswick Calendar:

“I know some people will say it’s a waste of money but for me to have seen something like that growing up would have meant a lot. It’s a real public affirmation of support.”

Not a problem for guide dogs

The crossings have been a subject of discussion on social media today, with a few making comments such as: ‘World’s gone bonkers’ and ‘We are all going loopy.’

Critics more or less fell into two camps – cyclists who were concerned that the safety markings had disappeared, perhaps not aware that there is another night of work still to be done on the crossings – and those who thought the rainbow crossings would be dangerous for visually impaired people because guide dogs would not be able to distinguish them as crossings.

Image above: Rainbow crossing on Chiswick High Rd 

Dogs are colour blind, at least they have a don’t appreciate the entire spectrum of colour that humans do. They can only discern blue and yellow.

The initial idea was for there to be a rainbow zebra crossing, which Transport for London vetoed because of the issues with visually impaired people and guide dogs not being to recognise colours as easily as they might a black and white crossing.

After more than two years of discussion, TfL and Hounslow Council agreed there could be rainbow crossings at this crossroads, because it has audible crossing signals for visually impaired people already in place.

One of Chiswick’s blind residents, Eran, who uses a guide dog, told us:

“As long as the tactiles and the crossing buttons stay the same I am really not bothered what colour it is.”

Image above: Rainbow crossing on Chiswick High Rd 

A kind and welcoming community

Ollie Saunders told us:

“I think it adds something different and very colourful to our corner of West London!

“Rainbow Crossings have been popping up in recent years in towns and cities across the UK and Europe, so I thought that it would be great to have one in Chiswick – to say that it’s okay to gay (or whoever you are), that it’s a kind and welcoming community here, and that W4 is a great place to visit or live in.

“Having a junction of four crossings is a new and bold thing to do and people across London are already noticing that Chiswick has done this after less than 24 hours – that says a lot.”

TV presenter and Chiswick resident Nicki Chapman will be at the opening at 10am on Friday 3 February, along with organisers Aubrey Crawley, Ollie Saunders and Cllr Ranjit Gill and Leader of Hounslow Council Shantanu Rajawat.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Teachers strike closes or partially shuts swathe of schools in Chiswick and west London

See also: Ealing Lib Dems criticise Council over green space proposals

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