Planning commission recommends more pedestrian flags

By Chris Mannara
Staff Writer

At a meeting on Aug. 25, the Pagosa Springs Planning Commission approved a recommendation to the Pagosa Springs Town Council for the installation of more pedestrian flags at various U.S. 160 crosswalks throughout town.

These crosswalks include 7th Street, 6th Street, 3rd Street, 2nd Street and the River Center crosswalk.

The pedestrian flag program was implemented at two locations in downtown Pagosa Springs in 2018, according to Senior Planner Cindy Schultz.

Following a survey done of local businesses regarding the pedestrian flag program, the town received 120 responses, Schultz noted.

“In general, most of the respondents were locals and full-time residents. About a few more of them were drivers than pedestrians,” she said. 

According to Schultz, 75 percent of respondents felt like the flags improved crossing safety, while under 11 percent felt like they worsened crossing safety.

About 39 percent of respondents reported they always or almost always use a flag to cross, while 31 percent reported it depends and another 29 percent answered they never use a flag, Schultz noted.

The top three reasons given for why flags have not improved crossing safety were due to things like drivers not paying attention to flags, pedestrians not using the crossing light or the flags themselves.

“Crossing four lanes of traffic, not only do you have to hit that button and make sure that the light goes, but you have to really catch a driver’s eye, you have to use that flag,” Schultz said. 

Overall opinion of the safety of the flags was good, Schultz explained.

“I think people are coming through town at a rate of speed, and again, if they don’t see that people are crossing, particularly if the lights don’t flash, then we do have some problems with people not noticing that there’s a pedestrian crossing,” she said.

The survey also offered suggestions for new locations for flags, including 2nd Street, the River Center, 7th Street and 3rd Street.

In order to keep things safe and clean for those using the flags, the idea of having hand sanitizer available or coating the flags with an antimicrobial solution came up, Schultz explained further.

“We’re looking to expand the program to four or five locations,” Schultz said. “A 100-flag order would be about $1,165. I’m looking at buying a few hundred if we expand it to the full gamut.”

This assists with town council’s goal to make the town more friendly to pedestrian and foot traffic, Schultz explained further.

The flags are more feasible financially than other methods of making pedestrian foot traffic safer, Planning Director James Dickhoff added.

“CDOT [Colorado Department of Transportation] says that it is one of the highest priorities to get our main street reconstructed as you drive through Colorado everywhere. Ours appears to be one of the rougher main streets in the state,” Dickhoff said. “I do take it to heart when they say they really are prioritizing this.”

According to Dickhoff, the pedestrian flags have brought smiles to the faces of drivers and pedestrians as they are either waiting for people to cross the road or if they are crossing themselves.

“They seem to be well worth the money,” planning commission member Chris Pitcher said.

This story was posted on September 9, 2020.