Village gets PedFlags to help pedestrians

April 1, 2008 7:18:04 AM PDT
An Ulster County village is taking up an idea that has worked for other traffic-burdened cities: pedestrian street-crossing flags. The handheld pennants, known as PedFlags, are placed in canisters on either side of busy intersections. Prior to crossing the street, a pedestrian grabs a flag and holds it out to stop oncoming traffic. Sort of a do-it-yourself crossing guard.

The pedestrian leaves the pennant in another canister at the other side of the street, to be used by someone else.

The village of New Paltz got the idea from the city of Kirkland, Washington, which set up the first PedFlag program in 1996. Other municipalities that have used the flags include Chevy Chase, Maryland; Portland, Maine; St. Paul, Minn.; Madison, Wis.; Cambridge, Mass. and Salt Lake City, Utah.

In Berkeley, Calif., the idea was abandoned because so many PedFlags were stolen. Organizers of the PedFlag program in New Paltz are looking for businesses and civic groups to sponsor and maintain flag canisters at intersections.