Flags' destruction prompts new crossing safety approach

On the weekend of Nov. 3, crosswalk safety flag stations were set up on both sides of the Mary Jemison Drive crosswalk between South Village and Saratoga Terrace. Within days, all of the flags were stolen and the signs were destroyed, forcing University Police to reassess their plan of increasing the safety for students crossing the high-traffic road.

The flag stations were assembled just before the ending of Daylight Saving Time in the wake of an accident last year where a driver who, because of the glare at sunrise, struck a Geneseo student at the crosswalk. Posted signs instructed students to carry and wave the flags while crossing to alert drivers of their presence.

The charge to improve the crosswalk came from a Personal Safety Committee, appointed by President Dahl, to identify safety concerns on campus. Because the Mary Jemison Drive speed limit is 30 miles per hour, the committee worried that students might misjudge their ability to cross safely.

Vice President of Student and Campus Life Robert Bonfiglio suggested implementing the safety flag system, which has been used at other colleges and universities as well as in the city of Stoughton, Wis. UP then asked junior Sean Keegan, who works in the parking division of UP, to spearhead the project.

Unfortunately, many students found the flags to be unnecessary. "I think [the crosswalk] is perfectly safe, the flags are silly because no one is going to use them," said freshman Brian Lynch.

Freshman Jessica Ellison admitted that cars do come down the road quickly, "no one would have used the flags" had they not been stolen.

"We're going to have to reassess if we're going to continue the program," said Assistant Chief of University Police Scott Kenney. UP has not abandoned the project, however, and will continue to work to make the crosswalk safe. Kenney hopes to involve town residents who use the road before arriving at a solution.

"If it's a viable project, we would hope that our community respects it," he said.

Besides putting up the flag receptacles, UP has improved lighting at the crosswalk and worked with the Department of Transportation to put up high-visibility green pedestrian signs near the area.