From Halifax Nova Scotia, The Globe and Mail reports on the “Crosswalk Safety Society” that are placing “high-visibility flags” on crosswalks where there are no crossing lights and no safety features. While staff at the Halifax Regional Municipality urged Council to get rid of these flags and create safer pedestrian crossings, council voted to continue with the flags being available at those crosswalks. And these flags are not inexpensive, with the Crosswalk Safety Society shelling out $250 to outfit each crosswalk with them.
Only 2 to 6 percent of pedestrians use these flags to wave at cars when they are crossing, and when a reporter watched an intersection for two hours, pedestrians did not use the flags at all.
The concept of intersection flags have been tested in Berkeley California and in Seattle and were dismissed as being ineffective and giving pedestrians a fake sense of confidence. It also puts the onus on the pedestrian for getting the driver’s attention and stopping a vehicle, something that should be the responsibility of the driver. For small children, using flags is one more thing to take attention away from the important task of simply safely crossing the road.
Kudos to municipal staff in Halifax that conducted their own tests at two intersections, crossing each of them three hundred times. “They found that drivers gave way 94 per cent of the time when flags were being carried and 89 per cent of the time at crossings where there were no flags. Driver compliance was lowest, at 86 per cent, when flags were present but not carried”.Read more »