Crosswalks

Crosswalk group installs 100th safety flag

Flags placed at crosswalks to lower pedestrian-vehicle collisions

Safety flags ready for use at a crosswalk in HRM
Safety flags ready for use at a crosswalk in HRM   Meech Kean

Norm Collins hopes the roads are a little bit safer as his group plants a milestone 100th safety flag at a crosswalk in Bedford.

Last year, there were 208 reported vehicle-pedestrian collisions in the Halifax area. Nearly 60 per cent of them happened at crosswalks.

“There is obviously a perceived need of improved safety,” said Collins, president of the Crosswalk Safety Society of Nova Scotia. “This is a cost effective, easy to install, low tech means of doing that.”

The group places fluorescent orange flags at selected intersections in Nova Scotia. Pedestrians are free to pick up a flag and place it in the bin after they walk across the road.

Collins put up his first flag in 2009 on Waverley Road in Dartmouth. He installed another six but was then asked to take them down by the traffic authority. Collins says HRM Traffic Services told him that they were unsafe because if someone grabbed a flag they would pay less attention to the road.

Collins did not agree.

“The fact you grab a flag means you’re thinking about your safety and you’re going to be more attentive,” he said. “I was frustrated with being denied something for no credible reason.”

In August 2014, after lobbying with the municipal government for several years, regional council agreed to let Collins continue putting up crosswalk flags in Halifax.

Coun. Tim Outhit (Bedford-Wentworth) says it’s long overdue.

“The city probably should have stepped up sooner with new things, so good for him stepping up as a resident,” Outhit said.

He doesn’t know if the crosswalk flags are practical, but says they serve a purpose.

“I’m not convinced people will always use them to cross the street,” he said, “but they’re reflective at night and I think it will bring attention to the crosswalks crosswalks even if people aren’t using the flags.”

So far, 78 crosswalk flags have been installed in the Halifax region and 22 are elsewhere in the province.