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Turku's rainbow crosswalk short-lived after police order its removal

It took around one day before the Police Board informed the city that the colourfully-painted crosswalk was not legal.

The city said a work order for removing the colourful paint and the repainting of the crossing in white had been issued on Wednesday. Image: Vesa-Matti Ruuska / Yle

The City of Turku announced on Wednesday that it will remove a rainbow-coloured covering that was painted on a city crosswalk a day earlier, at the request of police.

When the colourful crosswalk was painted on Tuesday, the city said it wanted to communicate a message of open-mindedness, tolerance and equality as well as supporting the LGBTQ community during Pride month, which is observed in June.

The short-lived effort was spearheaded by the Turku City Theatre, which is located by the crossing.

However, just a day later, the city received an email from the Police Board, stating that covering the crossing violated the country's Road Traffic Act.

"The city will follow the Police Board's position in the matter and remove the paint as soon as possible and restore the white lines marking the protected crossing. A work order for its removal and repainting has already been issued," the city said in a statement.

Rainbow crossing received a good deal of attention

The city had interpreted the Road Traffic Act differently than the Police Board. When Turku announced the rainbow on Tuesday, the city's communications director said that pedestrian crossing traffic signs were adequate and that the crossing could still be used normally.

On Wednesday, Matti Salonen, the city's traffic planning manager said the city did not consider the painting to be at odds with the law.

"According to the rule specified in the Act, a protected crosswalk can be indicated by road signs or road painting, or both. When the rainbow was to be painted, the city did not consider it to be a device related to traffic. Similar road paint not mentioned in the Act include red bike lanes, green paint indicating electric vehicle charging points and the blue colour sometimes used in parking for individuals with disabilities," Salonen said.

The painted crosswalk received broad positive, as well as negative, responses on social media.

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