SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — Walkability and pedestrian safety are key trends in municipal planning and for good reason. Students rushing to class, millennial parents pushing strollers, and baby boomers counting steps all desire safe, walkable streetscapes wherever they live, work and play. In response, South Orange is exploring new ways to enhance pedestrian safety for its residents and visitors. As part of this initiative, the village is testing new pedestrian safety flag stations at three busy crosswalks. Two storage bins are placed at each end of the crosswalk and six safety flags are stored in each bin. Pedestrians seeking to gain visibility while crossing a busy street can use a flag to signal their intent to cross.
“Visibility is a key safety tool for pedestrians and bicyclists — the flags are bright orange and have reflective tape designed to be seen at night,” South Orange Police Chief Kyle Kroll said.
Village Trustee Donna Coallier, who chairs the Health & Public Safety Committee, said, “Drivers often miss or ignore pedestrians looking to cross busy streets, which is both a public safety and quality of life concern. We hope the flags help our drivers to comply with state law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.”
As a further visibility aid, New Jersey state law requires cars to park at least 25 feet away from crosswalks and intersections.
Village Trustee Karen Hartshorn Hilton, who serves as liaison to the South Orange Senior Citizens Advisory Committee, is keen to hear feedback about the flags from senior South Orange residents. “Our seniors can feel particularly vulnerable in crossing our busiest streets and we hope these flags help to keep them safely walking and mobile,” she said.
The safety flags will be launched on a test basis at three locations. The first station is already in place at Village Plaza and South Orange Avenue; look for one more each in West Montrose and Academy Heights.
To be safe when crossing the street at these test sites, here’s what you should do: Obtain a flag from the storage bin; wave the flag to signal to drivers that you’d like to cross; when traffic completely stops, proceed with caution after looking both ways; carefully cross the street holding your flag; give a thank-you wave once you have safely crossed; and return the flag to the opposite storage bin.
Feedback regarding safety flag efficacy and placement will be collected via SO Connect.