Photo Credit: U.S. Navy
For a while now, Athens-Clarke County has refused to do much to make Prince Avenue safer to cross in spite of pleas from neighborhood residents and businesses—not move a dangerously located crosswalk, install more visible signals or consider even experimenting with fewer travel lanes, medians and/or pedestrian islands.
Now, perhaps county officials have come up with a solution. Tomorrow, the ACC Traffic Engineering Division will install orange flags and flagholders on either side of the crosswalks at The Grit and Daily Grocery.
Pedestrians will be instructed to pick up a flag and wave it before crossing, then replace the flag on the other side. Don't forget to continue observing traffic, activating the flashing beacon, making eye contact with drivers and proceeding with caution.
Instead of flags, ACC should put some "We Buy Gold" signs on the curb that we can shake and make some extra money waiting for a break in traffic.
Or if we insist on these flags, maybe we can turn Prince Avenue into a runway for fighter jets! That'd be cool. If we learn semaphore, we can really communicate with drivers. How do you say "Slow down," "Stop," "No, really, please stop!" and "Someone call 911, I've been pancaked!" (Hopefully, they won't mistake the crosswalk for the starting line at the Brickyard.)
Failing that, I'm not sure flags will do a lot of good. In my experience, the issue isn't usually that drivers don't see pedestrians—it's that they don't give a shit.
But at least we can all look like idiots frantically waving flags on the side of the road while cars whiz past us, right?
At least for six months. Traffic engineers will evaluate the program during that time, then decide whether to make it permanent.