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City installs walking flags

Maro Yacobian
Glendale Transportation and Parking Commissioner Maro Yacobian demonstrates how to use the pedestrian caution flags provided by the city as a pilot program at E. Colorado St and Jackson St. in Glendale on Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

City officials have installed walking flags at two unmarked crosswalks in Glendale as part of a new pedestrian-safety initiative designed to give drivers better visibility of people crossing the street.

On both sides of the street at the unmarked crosswalks at the intersections of East Colorado and Jackson streets and Kimlin and East Chevy Chase drives, a handful of orange flags were hanging in receptacles made out of salvaged pipes attached to street poles.

Adjacent signage directed pedestrians to pick up a flag, wave it while crossing the street and drop it in an identical holder on the other side of the street.

The implementation of the initiative comes after five pedestrians and one bicyclist were fatally struck by cars at various locations in Glendale last year. Of those incidents, four pedestrians and the cyclist were determined to be at fault.

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“This is really one more step in a long road the city of Glendale has taken to try to make our city safer,” said Glendale City Councilman Ara Najarian. “It’s unacceptable that we have as many pedestrian accidents in the city.”

Maro Yacoubian, Najarian’s sister who is on the Transportation and Parking Commission as well as the Pedestrian Safety Task Force, said she pushed the city to pilot the program. She purchased the first 100 flags, which cost a total of about $150, and donated them for the project.

While the program isn’t the “end-all” to solve the problem, she said, “it’s a piece of the puzzle that’s crucial to implement.”

However, using the flag isn’t a substitute for common sense, Yacoubian said.

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“It doesn’t replace the responsibility to follow traffic rules,” she added.

Officials expect that some flags will be stolen, but they have an extra stash to replace them as needed. By noon on Tuesday, the wooden sticks on two of the five flags at the crosswalk had broken.

City officials are currently working to install the flags at a third Glendale intersection with an unmarked crosswalk at Colorado and Kenwood streets, and plan to monitor the program’s effectiveness to gauge whether to make modifications or add locations.

Among the next steps is to encourage businesses to “adopt” a crosswalk by purchasing flags for different unmarked crosswalks with their respective logos, said Roubik Golanian, the city’s director of public works.

Eighty-year-old Azad Zaghian said in Armenian that he spends about two hours a day walking in Glendale and planned to use the flags, calling the program “very good.”

Meanwhile, Robert Sotomayor, 56, didn’t like the idea, noting that flags are going to “disappear fast” and get vandalized.

“These flags, come back in half an hour, ciao, ciao,” he said.

While walking on Colorado Street, Vanessa Fuentes, 19, said the flags make the crosswalk safer, but she personally wouldn’t use them.

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“I’m already used to knowing how to cross the street,” she said.


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