Pilot program seeks to increase pedestrian safety

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Pedestrians in Hastings will soon be able to use crossing flags at one of its busiest intersections. The city will test a new pilot program designed to give pedestrians increased visibility as they cross the street in the area near Cub Foods and Target.

According to the city, the intersection at General Sieben Drive and South Frontage Road is the highest traveled intersection in the 105 miles of city-owned streets. There have been no reports of pedestrian-involved crashes at the chosen location. In addition, the city has a strong pedestrian safety record so the pilot program is more of a preventative measure to keep the number low.

Pedestrian crossing flags will be installed at each side of the chosen intersection in early January. It's proximity to popular commercial businesses and senior housing facilities made it a good candidate to test the program.

A post on each side of the crosswalk will have containers holding multiple orange crossing flags for pedestrians who wish to the cross the street. The person will follow normal safety precautions by looking both ways, extend the flag out in front of them, and hold the flag in front of them while crossing the street. Once the pedestrian crosses safety, they will be able to place the flag in the holder on the other side.

The city is in contact with the management team at the senior apartments near the intersection. They plan to partner with its residents to adopt the role of monitoring the flags to report when any go missing or need replacement. In addition, the city hopes to ask the residents and the public for feedback regarding their experience using the flags. After 12 months, the city will determine if the flags would be installed at other high-volume intersections around town.

A city policy on the Installation of Pedestrian Crosswalks was recently adopted due to increasing requests for crosswalks. The policy creates a standard set of criteria for city staff when determining whether or not a crosswalk is warranted at a specific intersection. Criteria include traffic volumes and length of time available to cross between traffic.

Staff and the Hastings City Council developed the policy based on best practices, research and guidance from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration.

For more information about the Pedestrian Flag Pilot Program or the new Installation of Pedestrian Crosswalks city policy, visit www.hastingsmn.gov/crosswalk-safety.