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.