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News Blog

End of the Orange Flagged Road

by Josh Loftin
- Posted // 2010-04-21 -

Years ago, Salt Lake City had a spunky little mayor who focused on the nuts-and-bolts issues of a city, such as pedestrian safety. To this day, one of his pet projects, orange flags, still can get people talking.

Remember Rocky Anderson 1.0? Those were the years before he became a national figure, when his bluster was directed at local politicians instead of the U.S. president. Among one of his first initiatives was to stick a whole bunch of orange flags at intersections and crosswalks throughout the city in an attempt to save a few pedestrian lives.

Amazingly, the orange flags were both ridiculed and adored. Haters loved to point out how ridiculous they looked, how they seemed to wind-up littering sidewalks and (somewhat oddly) what a waste of money they were. They also became a national trend, with cities like Washington, D.C. adopting similar programs

Well, Rocky and his parrot have left City Hall, and now Salt Lake City has a new mayor who is launching his own pedestrian initiative. Mayor Ralph Becker will unveil the ominous-sounding HAWK system (as flawed of an acronym as possible by the way -- WK stands for crossWalK) on Friday at the intersection of 1300 East and Yale Avenue. The previous link also provides a complete description of the system, as well as links to pedestrian safety in someplace called "Sale Lake City" and a YouTube video of a man -- who loves his cell phone belt clips -- pressing a button, cars stopping, man walking, cars going Nobody dies, which means that I refuse to embed the video here.

But really, there really is only one lingering question: Will the orange flags disappear? For that, I have put in a call to city speaker-types, and will update when I find out.

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Post a comment
Posted // April 22,2010 at 15:38

Under HAWK, what prevents kids (or anyone) from repeatedly pushing the pedestrian button just to intentionally disrupt traffic?


Posted // April 22,2010 at 22:40 - yep


Posted // April 22,2010 at 15:30

KEEP the Orangle Flags indeed! I've been saved numerous time on S. Temple, state street wherever. Cars DO NOT stop on their own especially going speeds of 40mph. Cars can see the orange flags from far enough away to safely stop. Viva Orange flags!!!


Posted // April 22,2010 at 13:48

What's good enough for Tuscon... Really, I can't see this replacing ALL of the orange flags. This sounds much more expensive and cumbersome to operate. 1300 East is a nasty street to cross, though, so I guess I'd use the HAWK at that intersection.


Posted // April 22,2010 at 11:51

As a recent immigrant to the land of Zion, I've found the orange flags immensely useful while competing for crosswalk space with speeding vehicles (captained by oblivious drivers). The flags make excellent attention getters when rapped upon vehicle doors when my personal space is encroached.