City officials hope flags at one Austin corner will make drivers more aware

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You may have noticed special flags at the intersection of Central Avenue and Walton Street, near Brunson Elementary School.

The Chicago Department of Transportation recently placed the small street-crossing flags in Austin and at nine other corners across the city as part of an ongoing campaign to get drivers to be more careful, especially around pedestrians.

The locations were selected because none has traffic signals or stop signs, the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch reported.

The temporary flags are designed to make pedestrians more visible to motorists.

“This is another step in our effort to change behaviors that lead to pedestrian crashes,” Gabe Klein, commissioner of the Department of Transportation said in a written statement. “These flags have been used in other cities as a way to increase pedestrian safety but also remind motorists to take precautions at uncontrolled intersections.”

Plastic cylinders with instructions are installed on sign posts on both sides of the 10 intersections, and several bright-red flags are placed inside each cylinder. Pedestrians are encouraged to grab a flag, wave it to gain motorists attention, then safely carry the across to the other side. Flags are then placed in the holder on the opposite side for some one else to use.

“Drivers must follow the law and stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, even at intersections without stop signs or stop lights,” Klein said.

The pedestrian flags come a few months after the first installment of the “It’s Up To You” pedestrian safety campaign that features 32 mannequins representing the 32 pedestrians who died in Chicago in 2010 that have been placed in locations throughout the city.

In 2010, there were more than 3,000 crashes involving pedestrians. While pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Chicago have declined in the last several years, the city is committed to becoming the safest in the country, Klein said, noting Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities to zero by 2020.


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