With many motorists exceeding the speed limit on Madeira Drive, and with the pedestrian walkway currently cordoned off because of erosion of the walkway and road above, accidents are a risk. Recently, a woman was knocked off her bike by a pedestrian who was crossing the bike lane. However, the Rainbow Crossing encouraged pedestrians to stop, look and listen and motorists to slow down and created a traffic calming effect.
This issue is the primary concern of Neil Sykes, of Modern World Gallery - located in the Madeira Drive artists' quarter - who instigated the Rainbow Crossing Forever campaign and has been liaising with Brighton & Hove Council in the hope it can be restored, at least until Pride in August.
Neil Sykes says: "The response from the public was heart-warming to say the least and, during the brief but brilliant life of the Rainbow Crossing, people were able to cross a busy road somewhat safer than before. The average speed of traffic appeared to reduce significantly which, again, is something that needs to be addressed in this zone as a matter of urgency. I witness near misses on a daily basis, and dread the day that a fatality happens."
He adds: "The Rainbow Crossing uplifted the rather dull Madeira Drive instantaneously and was on the road to becoming a tourist attraction in its own right – until the jet-washing."
Fellow campaigner, 'rainbow warrior' and JAG Gallery artist, Jacqueline Hammond, agrees: "The rainbow worked its magic and made Madeira Drive come alive. It was a prime example of public art and successfully brightened up the beach, the road and the otherwise dreary east side of the pier, making it more than just one huge car park. It was wonderfully apt watching the 'I Charleston Brighton' dancers performing their routine on the crossing while the proposal to ask the Council to retain it was being penned."
Another local trader commented: "If restored, the Rainbow Crossing could bring much-needed clients to this otherwise downtrodden side of the pier, which would benefit the businesses located here and make the area more sustainable. Maybe it is high time to redevelop the whole east side of the pier."
Green Party MP Caroline Lucas is an advocate of the Rainbow Crossing and supports its restoration. She said: "The Rainbow Crossing was a great tribute to the spirit of diversity and inclusiveness embraced by our city and it was clear that people really loved it. I wholeheartedly support the campaign to keep the crossing, and was in touch with the Council at the beginning of the week to urge them to agree."
Negotiations took place on Friday 13 June between Neil Sykes, representing the Rainbow Crossing Forever campaign, and Brighton & Hove Council regarding making it permanent fixture. However, this did not prevent the washing away of the crossing three days later, which had already been scheduled.
Jaqueline Hammond said: "We are focusing our efforts on restoring the rainbow. Everyone involved would like to keep making Brighton brighter. Whatever happened to rainbow warriors and CND symbol of peace? Other cities have grown to love this type of rainbow and realise its many benefits, while the creators have been granted permissions."
The Rainbow Crossing included cassette stencils by JAG resident artist, Cassette Lord, who has existing permission from Brighton & Hove Council to place his street art to brighten up ugly green electrical and telecoms boxes and other 'street furniture'.
If restored, the Rainbow Crossing has support in terms of a Rainbow Maintenance Fund, where donations and sponsorship from local business would keep the artwork looking fresh.
New World Gallery would provide the brushes and art equipment and Johnstones of Hove has pledged the paint at cost price.
Jacqueline Hammond of JAG Gallery, who has designed a range of deckchairs to display outside the gallery this summer, now plans to design a rainbow deckchair. If Brighton is enabled to restore what would be Europe's first Rainbow Crossing, the proceeds from this new design will be donated to the Rainbow Maintenance Fund.
Members of the public are urged to help the campaign to restore the rainbow by "liking" the Brighton Rainbow Forever Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/brightonrainbow?fref=ts (https://www.facebook.com/brightonrainbow?fref=ts) .
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Notes for editors
The Rainbow Crossing, washed away by Brighton & Hove Council at 5am on Monday 16 June, stretched across Madeira Drive from the artist's quarter. It was created by: Zeezee TwentyTwo, Cassette Lord, Inky Biscuits Ltd Caia Matheson, Sonia Canals, Julieanne Guilburt, Jag Gallery residents and other local artists, and opened a week ago.
For further information, please contact:
Neil Sykes, Modern World Gallery
Tel: 07581 387354
Tel: 07977 486603
283a Madeira Drive
Brighton BN2 1PT
Modern World Gallery
283 Madeira Drive
Brighton BN2 1EN
Published for Modern World Gallery by Press Dispensary
+ 44 1273 741410