The Pedestrian Safety Campaign from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) installed crossing flags at 10 uncontrolled intersections near schools, senior centers and hospitals throughout the city. The temporary, inexpensive flags are designed to make pedestrians more visible to motorists and raise awareness of the safety needs of the most vulnerable users of the public way.
“This is another step in our effort to change behaviors that lead to pedestrian crashes,” said Gabe Klein Commissioner of the Department of Transportation. "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.”
The flags are simple and easy to use. Plastic cylinders with instructions are installed on sign posts on both sides of uncontrolled intersections and several bright-red flags are placed inside each cylinder. Pedestrians are encouraged to grab a flag, wave it to gain motorists attention, and then safely carry the across to the other side. Flags are then placed in the holder on the opposite side for another use.
“Drivers must follow the law and stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk, even at intersections without stop signs or stop lights,” said Klein.
The pedestrian flags were the second physical installation in CDOT’s “It’s Up To You” pedestrian safety campaign. The first portion featured 32 mannequins representing the 32 pedestrian fatalities in Chicago in 2010 placed throughout the city. The mannequins were in nine CTA stations and in the State Street median between Lake and Wacker.
On October 25, 2011, the Chicago Department of Transportation, in partnership with the Chicago Police Department and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, launched a citywide pedestrian safety campaign aimed at reducing pedestrian crashes and fatalities.
The campaign kicked off with an installation of 32 mannequins along Wacker Drive, each one representing one of the 32 pedestrians killed in Chicago crashes in 2010.
“Pedestrians are the most vulnerable users of the public way,” said CDOT Commissioner Gabe Klein. “This campaign is specifically designed to change the behaviors that lead to pedestrian crashes.”
Klein was joined by representatives of the Chicago Police Department, IDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which provided funding for the campaign. In addition to the Wacker Drive installation, the campaign will include: awareness messages on street furniture (bus shelters, info panels, trash receptacles, etc.) and direct outreach to schools, senior facilities, and taxi drivers. CDOT will also install small crossing flags at key neighborhood locations, and stencilling pedestrian safety messages on sidewalks in high traffic areas around the city.
CDOT and the Chicago Police Department will also continue their successful crosswalk-enforcement initiatives, aimed at getting more drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks.
“Chicago deserves kudos for its highly creative campaign to raise awareness of pedestrian safety,” said Administrator David Strickland of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “All over America, local jurisdictions are launching innovative initiatives to protect pedestrians, including stepped-up enforcement and improvements to roadway infrastructures. NHTSA strongly supports these vitally important measures.”
In 2010, there were just under 3,000 crashes involving pedestrians. While pedestrian injuries and fatalities in Chicago have declined in the last several years, the city is committed to making Chicago the safest in the country, Klein said. Klein said CDOT’s goal is to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities to zero by 2020.
This campaign and the coordinated enforcements are one of several efforts to improve safety and are based on a recent Pedestrian Crash Analysis released by CDOT. The analysis informed the messaging of this campaign and is being utilized in the development of the Chicago Pedestrian Plan (www.chicagopedestrianplan.org) and ongoing infrastructure improvements throughout the city.
The campaign and the enforcements are funded by a grant awarded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA awarded funds to three state agencies and the City of Chicago to promote coordinated pedestrian safety education and enforcement efforts around the country.