Tonight on Channel 2 News at 11 PM Metuchen's new pedestrian flag plan will be discussed by, among others, Transportation Committee head Tyreen Reuter and Councilwoman Dorothy Rasmussen. The program will be a test program instituted at two difficult intersections -- Middlesex and Oak and Main and Lincoln - so stay tuned. Here's some info about the program from Tyreen:
At the February 4, 2013 Metuchen Borough Council Meeting, a resolution was passed to begin test trials of Pedestrian Flags in the Borough. Below is background about this initiative. The test flags will hopefully be available for use sometime this month.
In 2012, two Metuchen residents contacted the Traffic & Transportation Committee with a suggestion that we look into the possibility of using Pedestrian Flags at some of our crosswalks. The residents had seen them used elsewhere effectively, and wondered if they might be possible here. The committee looked into other municipalities where these were used, contacted Keep Middlesex Moving regarding their use in New Jersey, coordinated with Metuchen Police Chief Rentenberg, and is now recommending that the Borough begin test trials of the flags, first piloting them in two locations. If they meet with success, we could expand the program. Since these are very inexpensive and can be used on borough, county, or state roads, we felt it was worth trying them.
The idea behind the Pedestrian Flag is to provide a tool that a pedestrian can use to gain the attention of an approaching motorist. With the aid of a brightly colored flag that can be held out in front of the pedestrian and/or waved, the pedestrian is better able to attract the attention of a driver. They are ideally suited for crosswalks in areas where there is a long straightaway or that are not already controlled by a traffic signal, stop sign, or other traffic control device. A supply of flags are kept in containers positioned at each end of the crosswalk - the pedestrian takes one, signals with it, crosses, and then replaces it in the bucket on the other side. Many municipalities call this a "Take it to Make it" program, or even "Wave a Flag for Safety."
The flag is a only tool for pedestrians who want and choose to use them - they do not automatically fix all the problems a potential location and should be used with as much caution as possible. They are intended to increase visibility and attract attention - just as with flashing crosswalks, pedestrians need to insure vehicles have seen them first and are stopped. As the two locations are rolled out, we will instruct residents on their use, and work with neighboring businesses and organizations to monitor the supply of flags. More about this and other efforts to improve pedestrian safety will be the main topic of conversation at the Town Meeting on Monday, February 25th here at Borough Hall. The two crosswalks part of the test trials are: Middlesex Avenue, at Oak Avenue - this is a long straightaway, but heavily crossed by pedestrians going to St. Luke's, Petit Enfants nursery school, Metuchen Inn, and the Public Lirbary. A pedestrian was struck and seriously hurt here in December. The pastor of St. Luke's has offered to help monitor the flags and share information about their use.
Main Street, between Lincoln Avenue & High Street -this crosswalk has been the subject of NUMEROUS complaints from the public, particularly since the flashing lights were destroyed. Pedestrians in this area, and those patronizing David's Pizza, the Bulldog Deli, Salon 212, etc., have all reported extreme difficulty in this area.
Feedback on the use of the flags will be very important during this test period, so once they are in operation, please make sure to provide any comments you may have after using them. Comments can be submitted to the Traffic & Transportation Committee through the borough's website at http://www.metuchennj.org/traffic_transport_main.html
Thank you, Tyreen Reuter, Traffic & Transportation Committee