Friday, June 16, 2006

Pedestrian Safety Committee

In mid-2000, the mayor of Salt Lake City saw someone get hit by a car. As a result, he formed a pedestrian safety committee. This was their weird yet ground-breaking idea:

"Pedestrians simply pick up a bright orange flag and carry it with them while crossing and leave it on the other side."

The Crosswalk Flags Brochure available on SLC's website also says:

Admittedly a low-tech initiative, it is highly effective and one that has achieved significant and continuing media coverage and public comment.

Highly effective? Really? How exactly did you determine that?

The brochure continues:

Although to date, no formal engineering studies have been undertaken, city staff has noted a dramatic increase in the willingness of drivers to yield to pedestrians carrying orange flags.

Really? No studies have been done? Well... maybe you could just ask some city employees what they saw? Maybe talk to a couple of pedestrians?

From the same brochure:

... observations and interviews of pedestrians ... revealed that 14% of pedestrians were using the flags.

Well, I suppose you could say: since those 14% must have survived the trip across the street in order to be interviewed, 100% of the people that did carry flags were not killed. Now that sounds like a highly effective program to me.

Anyway- I did find another document referencing the same "observations and interviews" conducted by SLC. For some reason, the city decided to leave this little piece of information out of the brochure:

... the pedestrians who did not choose to use the flags stated that they thought carrying the flags “looked silly”.