Red flags over cost wisely lead councilman to walk, not run with idea
When I first heard Pittsburgh councilman Corey O'Connor's proposed legislation to provide brightly colored flags for pedestrians to carry while crossing dangerous intersections, it reminded me of kindergarten for some reason.
Between the image of grown adults crossing the street holding brightly colored flags and the original proposed price tag of $10,000 to implement the plan citywide, what's not to mock? I called O'Connor to ask him what exactly he was thinking.
In an unexpected turn of events, I encountered a city council member who was happy to talk to me.
O'Connor said he had faced a lot of backlash after the Tribune-Review first reported on the plan last week. It made him scale back his plan to a pilot program at a few locations and having the city Public Works department put up the flag buckets – which pushed the cost down to less than $1,000. He will pay for the cost from his office's discretionary funds.
Council passed O'Connor's revised plan unanimously on Wednesday, which means that a few intersections in his district will test the program.
One location will probably be South Braddock Avenue near Biddle Avenue, scene of too-frequent accidents and a pedestrian killed in 2004. That's the intersection near the entrance to the Frick Park tennis courts and adjoining baseball field. It's also a high-traffic area and isn't far from a Parkway exit.
O'Connor said he's been meeting with residents regularly to try to reach a solution to the amount of accidents there, including one in 2004 that killed a pedestrian. You're probably thinking that it would be a good idea to put up some stop signs, but that has proven to be more far more difficult than it would be to install these flags. And really, both have only a 50 percent chance of being effective, what with distracted drivers and pedestrians complicating matters.
O'Connor said the public works department was poised to install a stop sign, but some voiced concern about stop signs backing traffic to the Parkway exits and drivers speeding through side streets to avoid said signs. Also South Braddock snakes through four municipalities – Pittsburgh, Edgewood, Swissvale and Wilkinsburg – which makes decisions regarding it difficult. Then there's the fact that the road is also a state alternate route when work is being done on the Parkway.
“The state wouldn't allow a sign,” said city police zone Cmdr. Kathy Degler.
She came up with the pedestrian flag idea during a visit to Salt Lake City, where she saw it in action.
“It makes the pedestrian be partially responsible,” she said. “I just hope people use it.”
Will the flags work? The short answer: If the Willie Stargell statue crossed the street in front of some area drivers holding one of these flags, they would not notice. Think about it: We're at the place where in order to get drivers and pedestrians to do what they're supposed to do, we have to try to make pedestrians stand out more than a person walking in front of your vehicle would ordinarily stand out.
It's a tough situation, Degler said, conceding that walking across a street holding a flag might look silly.
“But riding in the back of an ambulance looks silly, too,” she said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers receiver Brown attends workouts despite previous comments
- Grand jury presentment: AG Kane lied, attempted to cover up leak
- Plum students protest orders to keep mum about sex cases
- Man found dead in Lower Burrell
- Woman shot in knee in Hazelwood
- Pennsylvania AG Kane jumps in UPMC-Highmark dispute
- Whitehall man sentenced to time served for domestic assault of top prosecutor
- Crosby, Malkin want to remain in Pittsburgh
- Fayette man dies after accidental fire in home
- Injured Penguins optimistic about returning next season
- Coach Johnston trying to figure out why Penguins ‘fell off a cliff’