Monday, August 29

Flag Follies in Ocean Shores

We're Nearly as "Hip" as Seattle Here in Ocean Shores!
Apparently, one of the new trends in street crossings are flags. I’ve seen a few in Seattle popping up, and now we’ve got flags in Ocean Shores. They’re at the very same roundabout I’ve written about here and here.

Flags Piling Up
The idea of these flags is that pedestrians will take them and wave them in order to avoid getting run over by careless motorists. In that regard, they are a low cost alternative to various beg button systems and they’re probably effective for pedestrians, crossing from either the first or second photo. I’m not sure what a pedestrian is supposed to do when coming upon a sign (black letters on a white background being “regulatory”) like that in the third photo. Fortunately, most pedestrians (and motorists) are blissfully unaware of the yellow versus white background rules that cycling advocates blather about interminably.

The flags, however, are a bit problematic for cyclists. If you’ll recall from my FIRST OS roundabout post, their bike lane directs unaware cyclists to ride on the sidewalk (possibly illegally), where they’re then expected to cross across four lanes of roundabout traffic, back on to the sidewalk at LEAST once, before getting dumped back into another bike lane or onto a street without any guidance at all. Apparently, the traffic people did not realize this is FAR more dangerous than simply having cyclists operate as traffic through the roundabout since even a SLOW cyclist is going twice as fast as any pedestrian. I’m also not sure how they figured how a passing cyclist was supposed to grab a “take it to make it” flag as he/she passed by in a situation where he/she was at FAR greater risk than any pedestrian.

This was brought to the front of my mind yesterday as I saw a four seat, four wheel rental pedal car first go the wrong way down the street and then blissfully go through two successive crosswalks. If the peoples’ eyes driving the pedalcar were any guide, they didn’t look at either crosswalk. Can you say “accident waiting to happen?”

 Myself, I’ll continue to ignore the dimbulb attempts at directing me to do stupid things on my bike until/unless they come up with something that actually does anything more than check off some “complete streets” fantasy that comes from behind a windshield. In the defense of the traffic engineers, however, the flags probably DO help pedestrians better than doing nothing, though I’ve not heard of anybody actually getting hurt at the roundabout. Perhaps a couple of pedestrians got scared by tourists that did not understand how the roundabout works?

Lonely Flagless Stand With Sign Advising "Take it to Make It" - Is This a Serious Danger?


mike w. said...

Ah yes, the flagless stand. And why flagless? Some local youth probably collected them for his flag hoard. It's my humble opinion that these flags -when present- constitute an illusion of safety. A couple of years ago a nearby Chicago suburb, through which i used to pass on my daily commute, installed flag stations at various problematic intersections. i'd say at least three days a week i'd notice that the flags were gone. No flag will save a pedestrian from an inattentive driver, and if a ped gets clobbered whilst NOT carrying this fig leaf of a flag, won't it just give s lawyer one more arrow in his quiver to help mitigate a driver's culpability?

cafiend said...

The prepared pedestrian always has a can of spray paint and a lighter to get the attention of distracted motorists.

John Romeo Alpha said...

It's been my firsthand experience that when a driver is distracted enough to blow through a crosswalk with people in it, a waving flag probably won't make a bit of difference.

Steve A said...

I think the SDOT more or less agrees with JRA. One wonders why Ocean Shores chose to emulate the Seattle failure eight years later. I do not generally carry spray paint with me. I think the presence or absence of flags might expose the city to liability, but it'd be tough to get a driver off who hit a ped in a marked crosswalk.

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