Pilot program aims to improve pedestrian safety
Four crosswalks in unincorporated Salt Lake County have been equipped with orange flags similar to what Salt Lake City uses to increase pedestrian safety downtown.
County Public Works crews recently installed flag holders, and filled them with orange flags, at four crosswalks in Millcreek to make it safer for students to cross busy streets.
Two are on 2300 East one at 3000 South near Rosecrest Elementary School and the other farther north at 2780 South (Claybourne Avenue). The other two cross 3900 South near Skyline High School one at 3100 East, the second at 3300 East (Birch Drive).
If the pilot program works well at these locations, said program director M. Leon Barrett, the county will put in flag systems at potentially dangerous crosswalks where requested by a local sponsor.
"We do need a responsible party to adopt the crosswalk and take responsibility if they see flags are missing," he said. "Who else is better than the people who actually live there to keep track of things?"
Barrett said the success of Salt Lake City's crosswalk-flag program convinced the county it could be applied to busy suburban streets throughout unincorporated areas.
He said the county will accept requests for crosswalk flags from a sponsor, which could be a school, a PTA group, a business or an individual.
The public works department then will review traffic and pedestrian counts at the requested site, Barrett said. If busy enough, the county will install a flag holder and provide the first batch of flags.
If the flags disappear, sponsors may replace them on their own or purchase new flags from the county.
"We haven't come up with a price yet," Barrett said, noting that Salt Lake City charges 50 cents for replacement flags. "If the sponsor's a school, we'll waive those costs."
Jani Iwamoto, the Salt Lake County councilwoman representing Millcreek, praised Granite School District officials for their support when neighborhood activists such as Cynthia Birth from the Rosecrest Elementary area lobbied for flags at crosswalks along 2300 East, an I-80 feeder road.
"Anything you can do to get motorists to see the students is good," Iwamoto said. "The students get used to doing safety measures for themselves, too. I've seen the kids using them on 2300 East. It's a busy street."
Improving crosswalk safety near Skyline and other schools has been a priority for the East Millcreek Community Council, said chairwoman Nancy Carlson-Gott.
"If this works out, there are a couple more crosswalks I'd like to see get them," she said, predicting school kids will enjoy "walking across the street waving a flag."