Pedestrian crossing flags ‘disappearing at alarming rate’

Jun 8, 2023, 7:22 PM

SALT LAKE CITY — Orange pedestrian flags at some of Salt Lake City’s intersections are disappearing.

Despite the thefts, a Liberty Park woman is on a mission to make her neighborhood safer for people on foot and behind the wheel.

Sarah Burgess has sponsored the crosswalk at 800 East and 1300 South for the last three years.

“I live near there at the corner of the street, so you’re always seeing kids come through the ballpark, or people walking their dogs to the dog park,” she said.

She said it’s a busy intersection and not always the safest, so she pays to supply the flags for pedestrians to use.

“Screeching brakes, some people don’t stop or don’t see somebody, so the flags, when they are there, help to mitigate some of that,” Burgess said.

She keeps about four flags at the crosswalk but said they’re regularly stolen.

“You go through about anywhere from 10 to 20 a month,” Burgess said. “They used to be 50 cents each and now they’re up to about $2.10 each, which isn’t a big deal but it adds up if you’re going to 25 flags a month.”

She asked her neighbors to help pitch in for the cost, and she also asked the city to consider installing another traffic-calming alternative.

“We’ve been put on the list for the flashing blinker lights, the push button solars,” Burgess said.

She plans to start a petition for her neighbors to sign.

“It’s all prioritized by safety so if we can get some neighborhood involvement, it kind of moves us up that list,” she said.

The city has 176 sponsored crosswalks. The program started back in 2000.

Salt Lake City Transportation Division employee Dan Bergenthal said the flags are proven to help with safety and are more cost-effective compared to other options.

In a written statement KSL TV, Bergenthal said:

“Crosswalk flags are effective at increasing yielding rates at crosswalks and are very cost-effective as compared to traffic signals or flashing warning lights. We often replace crossing flags with signals or warning lights but due to the number of crosswalks within the city, we will not eventually replace all crosswalk flags with other traffic calming methods. Even when flashers or other traffic calming methods are used, such as pedestrian refuge islands or bulbouts, crosswalk flags are often still used as an extra means of grabbing drivers’ attention.”

He said the city welcomes more community members to volunteer to sponsor a crosswalk.

Burgess requested people help her pay for the flag supply. She plans to sit at her sponsored crosswalk soon to help get more community attention on the matter and her petition.

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Pedestrian crossing flags ‘disappearing at alarming rate’