Caption: North Asheville resident Elizabeth McKenna uses the new pedestrian flags as she walks her dog Thaddeus across Edwin Place.
The City is rolling out a new tool to help people safely navigate crosswalks in high-traffic areas. In a pilot program, City Transportation staff installed bright yellow pedestrian flags on Edwin Place in north Asheville Tuesday.
The idea is for pedestrians to grab a flag as they go across the marked crosswalk to enhance visibility as an additional safety measure.
“It’s an idea that we have seen used in other cities,” said City Transportation Planner Barb Mee. “Especially with our focus on pedestrian safety with the Watch for Me campaign we thought let’s try it. It’s low cost. We see the potential for wins and very little downside.”
The City is putting the flags in places where there are mid-block marked crossings but not a traffic signal. The mid-block crossing on Edwin Place was identified as a trial location after neighbors contacted the City to request help with pedestrian safety in the area, specifically requesting pedestrian flags.
“We had gotten concerns from neighbors who had children who tried to cross at that area when the school bus dropped them off,” said neighborhood resident Elizabeth McKenna. “The cars aren’t stopping.”
Out walking her dog Thaddeus Tuesday, Mrs. McKenna happened upon City transportation staffers installing the flag holders for the pedestrian flags. “I am really excited about the color and insignia on them,” she said. “I think they’re great.” And she said she planned to let her neighbors know about the installation.
The insignia on the flags resemble the pedestrian warning sign seen on traffic lights, and that was intentional.
The City has signs and holders for five locations. A mid-block Haywood Road crosswalk near Virginia Avenue has been identified as another location for the signs.
At a cost of $600 for this pilot project, Mee sees this pilot project an investment in a potential safety gain.
One of the concerns is whether the flags will remain in place.
“We’re betting that pedestrian safety is more important to our citizens than having a cute flag on the wall,” said Mee.
“The Transportation Department is continually looking for ways to enhance pedestrian safety and we are hopeful that the flags will accomplish that goal by providing much better visibility,” said Ken Putnam, Transportation Director.
Where would you like pedestrian flags?
The City is just rolling out this pilot program. Look for more flags at more crossings soon! And let us know where you would like pedestrian flags installed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.