Symbols in public space

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Crossing, traffic lights and cycle path


Utrecht has been a pioneer several times with permanent visibility symbols for diversity in public spaces. The pedestrian crossing in rainbow colours in the city centre got the attention in the world press, as did the longest rainbow cycle path at the Science Park.


Visibility is important for the LGBTIQA+ community. She therefore believes it is important that there are permanent symbols in public spaces that celebrate diversity. Many Dutch municipalities have recently installed such symbols such as pedestrian crossings, cycle paths or benches. In the last century, the symbol was usually the pink triangle, referring to the persecution in the Second World War, such as the Amsterdam gay monument. In this century, almost all of them are inspired by the rainbow flag with six colours and the later inclusive rainbow flag with more than ten colours. Utrecht was often the first to embrace such a symbol.


Crossing Lange Viestraat

On Pink Saturday, June 21, 2013, the rainbow path was unveiled on the Lange Viestraat in Utrecht, an initiative of city council member Pepijn Zwanenberg. It was the second permanent rainbow pedestrian crossing in the world (after Los Angeles in the United States). “The rainbow path is a cheerful and powerful symbol for the equality and freedom of LGBTI+ people and celebrates diversity with its multicolouredness,” according to Zwanenberg. Centraal Museum, the city’s major museum, included this path in its collection in 2018.

Ten years later, in October 2023, Utrecht had a Dutch first, also an initiative of Zwanenberg.  Pedestrians now cross the Lange Viestraat on the the latest inclusive rainbow flag,designed by Valentino Vecchietti. This flag has 13 instead of 6 colours and celebrates more forms of diversity, including colour, intersex and transgender. Outside the Netherlands, Los Angeles once again led the way in this initiative.


Traffic lights Daalsesingel

In March 2016, three years after the crossing opened, aldermen Kees Geldof unveiled rainbow traffic lights. Two figures of the same sex guide pedestrians at the crossing at the Knipstraat-Daalsesingel intersection, also an initiative by Zwanenberg. Utrecht was the first Dutch city with these figures in the lights. She adopted the design from Austrian Vienna, which had the world premiere during the Eurovision Song Contest in 2015. It came to Vienna because the year before, drag queen Conchita Wurst (Tom Neuwirth) won the festival with ‘Rise like a Phoenix’.


Cycle path Science Park

In 2020, the world was immersed in the corona pandemic. This also had a major impact on the lives of the LGBTIQA+ community. There were fewer opportunities to meet each other, fewer opportunities to explore your sexual orientation and more psychological problems. Yet something also happened in Utrecht during this pandemic that ultimately attracted worldwide attention.

Elias van Mourik, a student at Utrecht University of Applied Sciences at the Utrecht Science Park, took the initiative. He thought the campus was a grey area: “Such a diverse place, with people from all corners of the world, creative people, researchers, scientists, in short, diversity everywhere, could use some colour.” Inspired by the rainbow path on Lange Viestraat, he decided in December 2020 to attempt to realize an extensive rainbow cycle path in the Utrecht Science Park as a way to gain and maintain attention for the LGBTIQA+ community.

With the help of and city council member Melody Deldjou-Fard, he came into contact with the municipality and presented his plan. The plan received support from the rainbow community in the city, the Utrecht University of Applied Sciences, the Utrecht University and the University Medical Centre. Construction began on June 7, 2021 and was completed four days later. This path has all colours of the the latest inclusive rainbow flag. It was noticed worldwide and with its 570 meters length, Utrecht had a world record.

On August 29, 2021, initiator Elias van Mourik received the Annie Brouwer-Korf Award for his special contribution to the emancipation and acceptance of LGBTIQA+.


Evert van der Veen with the help of Elias van Mourik and Pepijn Zwanenberg

Longest rainbow path in the world opened, NOS Jeugdjournaal, June 12, 2021.

Film (3 min.) Utrecht Rainbow Cycle Path

Film (2 min.) Making Utrecht’s Rainbow Cycle Path



City of West Hollywood installs new inclusive Pride crosswalks, Los Angeles Blade, 14 maart 2022. https://www.losangelesblade.com/2022/03/14/city-of-west-hollywood-installs-new-inclusive-pride-crosswalks/

Huisman, Charlotte: Iedereen is welkom, zegt het homoverkeerslicht. De Volkskrant, 18 maart 2016. https://www.queerustories.nl/artikel-volkskrant-homoverkeerslichten/

Utrecht eerste Nederlandse stad met regenboog-verkeerslichten. Duic, 5-3-2016. https://www.duic.nl/algemeen/utrecht-eerste-nederlandse-stad-met-regenboog-verkeerslichten/



Regenboogzebrapad (Rainbow Crossing), Collection Centraal Museum Utrecht: https://hdl.handle.net/21.12130/collect.DE8E650F-DE2E-463E-AFE9-6FBBC21682FC

The latest update of this window: Oct. 09, 2023