Davidson recently took steps toward improving pedestrian safety on some of its most heavily traveled streets, improving the visibility of crosswalks and installing in-street signage.But the most effective measure the town’s public works department has implemented came thanks to an idea studied, developed and tested by eighth-graders at the Community School of Davidson.High-visibility, hand-held flags, along with signage and flag holders, have been installed at six intersections, said public information officer Cristina Shaul. More will be added as the town comes up with more money, Shaul said.“It’s just a subset of what we’re doing to enhance pedestrian safety around town,” Shaul said. “We’re going to be building more sidewalks. We’re going to be restriping some crosswalks so they’re more visible. We’re going to be putting in those ‘state law’ in the middle of the street signs. We’re even going to be installing flashing beacons at the Circles at 30 eventually.”The bright orange flags that pedestrians can wave to get the attention of motorists are in place at the intersections of Beaty and Delburg streets, Griffith and Watson streets, Concord Road and Faculty Drive, Concord Road and Thompson Street, Davidson-Concord Road and Robert Walker Drive, and Main Street and the Delburg Street/Glasgow Street intersection.The improvements are an offshoot of the town’s proposed “Davidson Walks and Rolls” active transportation master plan. As part of its study, consultant Alta Planning and Design looked at traffic patterns and flow. The town’s public works department also had done its own studies, and many of those were in the department’s pedestrian safety enhancement plans.The idea for the high-visibility flags came, however, from a weekly course at the Community School called Safety Keepers, in which groups of eighth-graders come up with solutions to safety problems.Town commissioner Connie Wessner, who is also on the administrative staff at the school, originally brought up the safety flags concept, having seen them in use in other cities. The students then did their own analysis of traffic patterns along Griffith Street, where their school is located, then made, installed and tested the flags at three locations.“Other ideas were thrown out there, but we kept coming back to the flags,” said Roland Martinez, one of the volunteers involved in the project. “It was so simple to a degree that many would probably discount it … until you see it in action and realize that you become a lot more visible as a pedestrian when you hold that flag up.”Caroline Knight, 14, one of the students involved in the project, said “When I first heard the idea, I thought, ‘Is that really going to work? People are going to forget to take a flag.’ But after a while, it started catching on, and I thought, ‘Wow, this actually does kinda work.’”Now the town of Davidson is entering Phase 2 of the project: maintaining the current group of crosswalk flags, and others that will be added in the future. Just a few days after installing the flags, all six locations had been “adopted” by volunteers, said Shaul.“I was overwhelmed by the response,” said Shaul, who is coordinating the program. “We’ve got schools involved, individuals. … It’s pretty great. We’ve got a waiting list now.”They can thank 104 students at the Community School of Davidson who were involved in the project, as they prepare to enter the ninth grade.“It’s kinda cool that we started this whole project, that now everybody is going to use,” Caroline said. “I can say, ‘Hey, I started that.’”
Monday, Aug. 19, 2013
Davidson adopts pedestrian safety flags after 8th-graders study and test them
Kiser: 704-892-3662; Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs
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