Crosswalk flags get green light from Halifax council
Communities who wish to use the flags will be responsible for their cost and maintenance
After five years of struggle, a Dartmouth man has convinced Halifax regional council to give the green light to crosswalk flags in the city.
Council decided Tuesday night that the bright orange fluorescent flags, placed in baskets at each end of a crosswalk, can be used in the municipality.
Some details still need to be worked out but community groups can adopt crosswalks and use flags as long as they pay for and maintain them. City staff must be notified and approve the measure beforehand.
Norm Collins, a crosswalk safety advocate, said he hasn't wiped the smile off his face since he heard the news.
Collins started the campaign for crosswalk flags on Waverley Road in 2008. He ran a one-year pilot project and when he went to regional council a year later in hopes of extending the program, it was shut down.
"There was never any reason that was backed up by data or evidence for the crosswalk flags being removed," he said.
Coun. Darren Fisher represents the Waverley Road area and said his community supports the flags.
"Obviously it's clear you're going to be more visible with a crosswalk flag in your hand so if you want to be able to utilize that, if community groups want to administer that, then why would we ever want to stand in the way of something like that, especially when there's no cost to taxpayers?" he said.
Fisher said 3,000 people signed a petition to bring the crosswalk flags back.
"It's been a long time coming and I'm very happy to say that we should see crosswalk flags back on Waverley Road very soon," he said.
Collins said the cost of putting flags up at a crosswalk is approximately $200 — an alternative to flashing traffic lights which can cost more than $15,000 to install.
He said his research suggests only about 20 per cent of people use the flags, but he said their presence alone creates awareness.
"Everyone who may criticize the fact that people weren't using them said, 'Absolutely. I'm much more aware. I never knew there were so many crosswalks on the Waverley Road. I am more sensitive to them. I subconsciously slow down because the flags are there,'" he said.
Collins said everyone involved agrees the flags are not a magic bullet and will not prevent all pedestrian-vehicle collisions, but it's one more tool to help make crosswalks safer.