Friday, September 17, 2004

Bummer of a birthmark, Hal 

J.V.C. liked the Yellow Bikes story, but raised me one.
Tired of dodging cars as she crossed Connecticut Avenue near her Chevy Chase home, Samantha J. Nolan took the problem into her own hands.

Nolan lobbied the city to study pedestrian and motorist practices at two intersections where crosswalks connect busy stretches of shops just south of the Maryland line. And she got results -- in the form of a program called Safe Steps, a street crossing system that provides colorful hand-held flags pedestrians can use to signal drivers to stop for them in crosswalks
Nolan said the intersections have been the sites of several close calls in recent years between motorists and pedestrians.

Safe Steps is "low tech. It's low cost. And it has a high rate of success," she said.

The flags hang from holders on utility poles at the corners of the intersections. Instructions are posted on the poles.

Nolan frequently shows neighbors how to use the flags, teaching them to make eye contact with drivers and to hold the flags so motorists can see them. She advises them to walk to the center of the street and do the same with drivers in the other direction, then place the flags back in their holders.
Questions abound, such as" Somehow I think waving a big flag at cars that want to hit you -- isn't that what they are suggesting? -- is probably not a good idea. You're kind of marking yourself, aren't you?