Crosswalk Flag Program Termination Media Coverage


The termination of the crosswalk flag program has received the following media coverage


1.   CBC TV - July 28, 2009 - 6:00 pm

2.   CBC Mainstreet radio - July 28, 2009 - an mp3 copy of the report is attached below

3.   Chronicle Herald - editorial on Page A7 - July 28, 2009 - see links below, including comments

4.   Rick Howe July 29 blog - printed below

5.   CTV TV - July 29, 2009 - 6:00 pm - approx. 8 minutes in to the newscast

6.   Chronicle Herald - Saturday, August 1, 2009 - page A7 - a short piece, for those who may have missed it

7.   Chronicle Herald - Monday, August 3, 2009 - page A7 - main Herald editorial, reprinted below

8.   Rick Howe - August 03, 2009 blog - printed below

9.   Rick Howe - August 04, 2009 blog - printed below

10. Rick Howe - August 05, 2009 blog - printed below

11. Rick Howe - August 12, 2009 - Howe Now article to appear in the Community paper - printed below

12. Rick Howe - August 25, 2009 blog - printed below

Rick Howe - August 25, 2009 Blog

Estabrooks by the way has had a chat with Norm Collins, the Dartmouth man who initiated a citizen's effort to make using crosswalks safer. Collins and some friends, on their own dime, bought a number of orange safety flags and placed them at crosswalk locations along the Waverley Road. Pedestrians crossing the street would carry a flag with them, giving them a much higher visibility. Unfortunately, the city's Traffic Authority, felt it gave pedestrians a false sense of security and he ordered the flags removed. The province can overturn Ken Reashor and Estabrooks seems interested in perhaps doing so. Stay tuned!

Rick Howe - August 12, 2009 Howe Now
There's no question using a crosswalk in HRM can be a risky effort.  Hardly a week goes by without news of a near miss or actual mishap, and of course there were the two unfortunate deaths in recent years of teenage girls Mary Beth Chaulk, in March 2006, and Kaitlyn Muarray, a year later, at crosswalks in Dartmouth.
While the city has taken some measures since then to improve crosswalk safety, a group of Dartmouth residents, concerned about continuing reports of car-pedestrian collisions, decided a year ago to take the initiative to make crosswalks in their neighbourhood safer.  What began as a discussion over the dinner table soon turned into a real community effort to make crossing the street safer for pedestrians and motorists.
Dartmouth’s Norm Collins says he did not personally know the two young teens, but he felt that nothing appeared to come out of those sad experiences. Collins, his wife and some friends decided something needed to be done, as he put it, to “make something better.”
An acquaintance had just returned from a visit to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he had noticed bright orange safety flags posted at crosswalks, and an idea was born. It wasn’t too long before, at the group’s own expense, the very visible flags were set up at each end of 13 crosswalks along the Waverley Road.  Pedestrians were encouraged to pick up a flag from a container as they crossed the street, depositing it in another container at the side. 
The flags were a hit with pedestrians, but unfortunately the effort ran into the rigid rules of bureaucracy.  After a presentation to city council, with councillors falling over one another to heap praise on the program, Mayor Peter Kelly wrote to the Transportation Association of Canada, asking it to endorse the flags as a traffic control device. 
On behalf of Council,” the mayor wrote, “I look forward to a positive response to our request.”
The answer was not what they expected.
TAC said no.  It said no province officially recognizes the flags as traffic control devices, so motorists were not legally required to stop for pedestrians carrying a flag.  As a result, it claimed pedestrians would therefore have a false sense of security and it could lead to motorist confusion or surprise, resulting in unsafe driving behaviour.
The decision prompted HRM’s omnipotent Traffic Authority to order the flags removed. Two weeks ago, Collins and his friends complied.
I don’t know if I can express appropriately how frustrating this is,” Collins told me. “It’s extremely frustrating, especially because of the absence of solid reasons. It seems to be based solely on opinion." 
This is not a conclusion based on scientific data, it is an opinion on which others differ.” 
He says the city’s own website urges pedestrians to wear bright clothing while using a crosswalk during daytime hours, and reflective clothing at night.
Collins isn’t giving up. While city council cannot overrule its own traffic authority, the province can. 
He’s fired off a letter to Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks asking him to review the matter and, if he agrees the flags make crosswalks safer, to allow communities to use them. 
If it’s more dangerous,” Collins says, “so be it. But demonstrate with data and science why they make it more dangerous.”
Mayor Kelly told me he would like to see the flags in use.  “If it works, and it has, why not?” he said.  He urges the minister to let the program continue. 
After the flags were removed, Collins and his wife conducted a little experiment, one he admits was very unscientific. His wife crossed the street 25 times with a flag in hand and 25 times without.
Without the flag, 21 vehicles went through the crosswalk as she prepared to cross the street.  With the flag, only nine failed to stop.
It’s not foolproof,” he says. “But nine versus 21? It’s a no-brainer.”
Let’s hope the minister agrees.

Rick Howe - August 05, 2009 Blog

      Still waiting for Mayor Peter Kelly to get back to me on what, if anything, he and council plan to do about the Traffic Authority's decision to kill a crosswalk safety effort.  The omnipotent Ken Reashor has decreed the orange safety flags placed by citizens at crosswalks along the Waverley Road are not authorized safety devices and ordered them removed.  The mayor thinks the program was doing some good, but he wasn't sure what he or council could do about Reashor's decision.  As I've mentioned, Reashor's decision's are final at least as far as council is concerned.  Whether or not the program can be saved appears to be up to the province.

 Rick Howe - August 04, 2009 Blog

      Mayor Peter Kelly's wondering what's the harm with those safety flags used until recently to make crossing the street safer in the Waverley Road area of Dartmouth.  The city's Traffic Authority, the omnipotent Ken Reashor, has declared the orange safety flags are not approved safety devices and must be removed forthwith.  The flags were an initiative of a group of citizens led by Norm Collins.  They were placed at both ends of 13 crosswalks on the Waverley Road.  Pedestrians would carry one as they crossed the street giving them greater visibility to oncoming traffic.  It's a program used quite successfully in several American cities.  Mayor Kelly says the flags seemed to be a benefit, at the least they did no harm.  He's asked CAO Dan English to check the matter out.

     Such edicts from the Traffic Authority are final because of the way the position was set up.  What Ken Reashor says goes.  Council cannot overturn his decisions.  You might recall some controversy over Reashor's decision to impose the overnight winter parking ban last winter and his refusal to acknowldge some screwy line designs after renovations to the Windsor St exchange.  Perhaps the time has come to re-visit and perhaps take away some of the Traffic Authority's authority.

Rick Howe - August 03, 2009 Blog

     Those orange safety flags along crosswalks on the Waverley Road in Dartmouth have now been taken away.  This was a citizens initiative to improve safety in a city where crosswalk accidents are routine but it ran into a wall of bureaucracy.  Out of their own pockets, a group of residents and businesses purchased the safety flags and installed them at each end of 13 crosswalks.  Pedestrians would carry one as they crossed the street, giving them much more visibility to oncoming motorists.  A simple but brilliant effort that is used in a lot of American cities today.  But in the bureaucratic jungle they call Halifax City Hall, the omnipotent Ken Reashor, HRM's Traffic Authority know-it-all, has decreed these things are not a recognized safety device so they must go or it's off with your heads.  Bureaucrats!!!

     My sincerest condolences to Bill Estabrooks on the recent passing of his wife.  It's so sad.  The new Transportation minister will soon be returning to work and a letter from Norm Collins awaits him.  Collins is one of those Dartmouth residents involved with the safety flag initiative and he's asking Estabrooks to overrule Reashor.  Bill's a common sense kind of guy.  This seems to be a common sense kind of issue.

Rick Howe - July 29, 2009 Blog

     Who's the genius at Halifax city hall who decided to kill a citizens' initiative to make crosswalks safer in HRM?  About a year ago, Dartmouth resident Norm Collins and some of his friends decided they wanted to do something about the regular mishaps and near misses at city crosswalks.  With their own money, the group purchased a bunch of bright orange safety flags and placed them at each end of 13 crosswalks in the Waverley Road area of Dartmouth.  A pedestrian crossing the street would take a flag with them, depositing it in a container at the other end.  It certainly gave them more visibility and was praised by the likes of city councillor Andrew Younger and Tina Chaulk whose 16 year old daughter was killed in a crosswalk mishap. Now some bureaucraft at city hall has told Collins to end the effort Friday.  Apparently the flags are not a recognized safety device.  Bureaucrats!!!!!

     Ken Reashor is HRM's traffic authority.  If you'd like to offer up an opinion on this ridiculous decision, give him a call today at 490-6637.


Chronicle Herald editorial - please go to to read the comments in response of this editorial.

Crosswalk safety: No help wanted

A TRIAL RUN in safety and good citizenship was sadly shut down last week when buckets of orange flags were removed from crosswalks along HRM’s Waverley Road on the order of the traffic authority.

The effort to improve safety at crosswalks was organized by the volunteer Waverley Road Crosswalk Flag Group, who modelled their initiative on programs in Salt Lake City and other U.S. cities.

The idea is cheap and simple: Buckets of bright flags are placed at each end of a crosswalk and pedestrians can choose to carry one while they cross, to improve their visibility to drivers.

In Salt Lake’s nine-year-old program, the city, volunteers and local business share responsibility. The city takes care of downtown. In outlying areas, community and business groups "adopt" crosswalks by monitoring and replenishing the supply of flags, which the city provides free initially and replaces at nominal cost. Schools that adopt crosswalks get all their flags free.

Salt Lake’s website says many drivers feel the flags help crosswalks stand out and make it clear when a pedestrian intends to cross. The city says media attention and neighbourhood participation have boosted safety education and awareness. Sounds like a model of common-sense co-operation.

The Waverley Road volunteers hoped to spark the same here when HRM agreed to a trial run last year. But the city wanted the Transportation Association of Canada, an advisory group on best practices, to endorse the flags as a "traffic control device." TAC declined — arguing flags would confuse motorists, give pedestrians a false sense of security and raise liability issues where flags weren’t provided. City officials agreed and shut the trial down.

This rigid rejection looks incredibly short-sighted and bureaucratic. There’s no need to make flags a traffic control device. The legal control device here is the crosswalk, which imposes rules and obligations on drivers and pedestrians. What flags add is an aid to safety — like defensive driving courses or advising walkers to wear bright clothing after dusk — and one that can be effectively delivered by community partnerships. Why discourage that? If there’s a concern about false security, then post notices telling pedestrians what their crosswalk responsibilities are.

As for liability, it’s silly to argue that volunteers should be discouraged from making their neighbourhood crossings safer unless everyone does. The city doesn’t take that approach to crime and Neighbourhood Watch. It shouldn’t throw cold water on flags and volunteer crosswalk adoption either.




Saturday, August 01, 2009 - Chronicle Herald 

Crosswalk project comes to a stop

     A community crosswalk initiative that increased pedestrian visibility while crossing the street has ended.

     However, a spokesman for the Waverley Road crosswalk safety program says the group that instituted the program on a pilot project basis want to get government approval so it can become permanent.

     Halifax Regional Municipality approved the installation of buckets containing orange flags with reflective tape at 13 crosswalks along Waverley Road.  Pedestrians could use the flags to increase their visibility when crossing the road.

     The program's time allotment expired Friday.  The flags were taken down earlier this week, said Brian Slaunwhite. 

     Similar programs have existed in several U.S. states, and the Waverley group plans to pursue the issue "through proper channels".

     The program had received considerable positive public response during its implementation.





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