Communities

Vienna Gives the Green Light to Same-Sex Traffic Signals

by Rafi Schwartz

May 12, 2015
image via wien.at

Visitors to Austria’s capital of Vienna might notice the traffic lights at several pedestrian crosswalks look a little different, as the city readies itself to host the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest championships later this month.

As reported by Reuters, Vienna has begun installing a series of traffic lights featuring both opposite and same-sex couples, replacing the image of a single stick figure. The new crosswalk icons depict both male and female same-sex couples holding hands while standing prone at red lights, and in motion when it’s time to walk. In both the stop and go positions, a heart is shown alongside each duo. The message is clear: Vienna is a welcoming city for everyone.

The modified lights are also in place to increase public safety, “as the unusual symbols attract the attention of drivers and pedestrians,” explained a city spokesperson to Reuters. Vienna plans to review data collected from intersections featuring the new crosswalk signals, in order to assess whether the same-sex lights had a measurable effect on traffic and walking patterns.

image used with permission via @minnie_tonka

There is reason to believe that the new lights very well may have a positive effect on that front. As The Washington Post points out, an effort in nearby Germany to replace the widely popular ampelmann crosswalk charater with a female figure claims the depiction of a woman would necessitate a larger area of illumination (the figure is wearing a dress) which helps ensure the traffic lights won’t be overlooked by distracted drivers. 

In addition to the Eurovision championship, Mashable reports Vienna is also set to host a star-studded Life Ball gala event on May 16th, which will raise charitable funds for the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

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Vienna Gives the Green Light to Same-Sex Traffic Signals