We celebrate lots of innovations and traditions here in Davidson, and this week has certainly brought some unique firsts: New crosswalk safety flags on Griffith Street and new trash and recycling cans on Main Street.
That’s right: We had a dedication for new trash cans. Turns out that project has been in the works for a few years, since being proposed by a group of Community School of Davidson students. Meanwhile, the new crosswalk flags also came out of a project at the school.
Drivers on Griffith Street in Davidson this week are finding a new crosswalk safety tactic in use: Bright orange flags that pedestrians can wave to get the attention of passing drivers.
Eighth graders at Community School of Davidson developed the project as part of a Friday afternoon “practicum” course called Safety Keepers. (Community School of Davidson is a charter school with an elementary and middle-school campus off Griffith Street and a high school on Armour Street.)
Students worked with the Town of Davidson and installed the flags Wednesday, Jan. 30, at Griffith and Watson streets, near Sadler Square.
Davidson’s public works crew installed poles with plastic buckets on the intersection’s four corners. Then the students tried out the new flags, leading the work crew back across Griffith Street.
In North Carolina, drivers are supposed to stop when pedestrians enter marked crosswalks. But it doesn’t always happen. The students learned that flags have been used elsewhere to improve safety.
At the urging of Davidson Commissioner Connie Wessner, who also is an administrator at CSD, they designed the setups for the Griffith Street intersection. Ms. Wessner said she first saw flags like these in Washington, D.C. “We had been talking for a number of years in Town Hall about the notion of using flags,” she said. Town employees didn’t have the budget or the time to take on the project, she said, so she asked students to take a look.
Students met with town officials include public works director Doug Wright and picked the intersection near Sadler Square shopping center for the first test. As part of their practicum – a weekly course that gives students experience in real-world issues and problems – they’ll also take responsibility for maintaining the flags, Ms. Wessner said.
The students and town officials hope the idea can be expanded to other crossings in town.
“This is a good start,” said Mayor John Woods, who was at Wednesday’s event. “I think it’s a great effort on behalf of these students. They’ve taken it upon themselves as a safety project to help this town test an improvement in pedestrian safety.”
Crosswalks have attracted heightened concern in town since the Nov. 2011 death of Davidson College professor Robert Whitton, who died after being struck by a car while crossing Concord Road near campus. That crossing, near faculty drive, now has a pedestrian warning sign in the middle of the road. Town officials said Wednesday they’re working with the college on additional improvements there.
Meanwhile, the town also is working on safety measures at the crosswalks near the Griffith Street roundabouts, in the Exit 30 area. The town recently received a Safe Routes to School grant to install flashing pedestrian crosswalk lights at the traffic circles. The work is expected to be done this spring or summer.
The eighth-grade Safety Keepers practicum was led by teachers Brian Ferguson and Roland Martinez and included students Matthew Tornberg, Justin Marsilio, Lissi Gordon, Brenden McCoy, Emma Rieves, Katie Smith, Jack Simon, Joey Knox, Parker Baughan, Elizabeth Pagan and Cameron Whittington.
NEW RECYLING AND TRASH BINS ON MAIN STREET
At a separate ceremony Wednesday shortly after the crosswalk event, town officials gathered in front of Summit Coffee and Main Street Books to dedicate a new trash and recycling bin.
The receptacle was one of 11 new dual recycling/trash bins installed downtown recently. The town received an $11,225 grant from the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Division of Pollution Prevention and Environmental Assistance, and provided matching funds to pay for the bins.
Envronmental Specialist Rachel Eckert of DENR was there Wednesday, along with town officials and a group of Community School of Davidson students who began working on the idea of downtown recycling bins several years ago.
What can you toss in the recycling bins? The town provided this list:
- ALL plastic containers, except #6 styrofoam/clamshells
- Rigid plastics, including toys
- Empty aerosol cans
- Milk cartons and juice boxes
- Glass bottles and jars
- Cardboard, cut and flattened into small sizes
- Paper, except for shredded paper
Jan. 31, 2013, Community School of Davidson students supplied this public service announcement video to explain how the flags work. CLICK HERE»
Jan. 16, 2008, DavidsonNews.net, “Danger at the crosswalk? Use a flag” – The idea brought a discussion on this site five years ago.