COMMENT

The Wellington Pride Festival is just around the corner and the city's Rainbow Crossing is still in rule-breaking limbo.

My colleague took to Twitter this week: "Just had a guy gesticulate wildly at me when I didn't stop for him at Wellington's rainbow crossing. NZTA is right - people seem to think it is a pedestrian crossing."

And that's the problem.

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Wellington City Council is a regulator, it should be well acquainted with rules and how they work, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise when it comes to the Rainbow Crossing at the intersection of Cuba and Dixon Sts.

For more than a year the council neglected to formally apply for an exemption to the Land Transport Rules the Transport Agency considers it is in breach of.

NZTA has concerns the crossing could be confusing for motorists and pedestrians determining right of way because it looks like a pedestrian crossing.

"There is a high risk of confusion and a dazzling and distracting effect."

Documents released under the Official Information and Meetings Act reveal the agency was prepared to go to some lengths to ensure the rules were adhered to including asking police to stop the crossing being painted and remove the markings.

Yet here we are, with no exemption, and the road turned purple, blue, green, yellow, orange, and red.

After a year of this limbo the Herald asked NZTA how long officials were willing to wait for the council to apply for an exemption before the agency took action.

"We are hopeful that the issue can be resolved without the need for the crossing to be removed, and to that end we have asked the Wellington City Council to make a formal application for an exemption for the rainbow crossing," a spokesperson said.

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NZTA officials wanted to put the kibosh on Wellington's kapa haka pedestrian crossing signals because they weren't uniform. Photo / Supplied
NZTA officials wanted to put the kibosh on Wellington's kapa haka pedestrian crossing signals because they weren't uniform. Photo / Supplied

Wellington City Council has broken the rules and so far there have been no repercussions.

The situation reeks of hypocrisy on the council's behalf.

How can it expect obedience to its rules when it's happy to break those of other organisations?

It's like the time KiwiRail decided to rip down Earthquake Prone Building notices at Wellington's central railway station, based on independent engineering advice it was no longer prone.

But KiwiRail doesn't get to decide whether a building is earthquake prone, that's the council's job.

In the case of the Rainbow Crossing, the shoe is on the other foot.

It's true NZTA officials have a track record of being a stickler for the rules, like the time they wanted to put the kibosh on Wellington's kapa haka pedestrian crossing signals because they weren't uniform.

The signals only went ahead with last-minute intervention by NZTA's acting chief executive, Mark Ratcliffe.

He said he balanced up the "role as regulator against doing the right thing in 2019".

NZTA could still very well grant an exemption for the Rainbow Crossing but that process can't be followed through if no application has been filed.

The to-ing and fro-ing between the two organisations has become ridiculous.

But now, finally, the end is in sight. The council has confirmed it has formally applied for an exemption.

Except now it's got more than a year's worth of bad blood with NZTA over the whole sorry mess.

Not to mention NZTA has had one of its own analysts look at monitoring data who went on to conclude the chance of someone crossing on a red light had doubled since the crossing was installed.

But now the crossing has been painted, it's going to be undoubtedly more difficult for NZTA if it finds the risk to safety has significantly increased.

Just imagine the PR disaster of painting over a Rainbow Crossing designed to make the city more LGBTQI-friendly.