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New pedestrian pilot project uses flags to caution drivers in Vaudreuil-Dorion

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WATCH: Vaudreuil-Dorion is testing out a new way to make crosswalks safer for pedestrians. Global's Brayden Jagger Haines reports – Nov 19, 2020

A new pedestrian pilot project is attracting a lot of drivers’ attention — quite literally — in the town of Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Bright fluorescent orange flags have been installed at the intersection of Manoir Street and Gare Boulevard.

Pedestrians are encouraged to take a flag while crossing the street and present it to caution drivers to slow down and stop.

Read more: Halifax crosswalk flag program to continue – for now

“This is one of our worst pedestrian crossings,” director-general Olivier Van Neste said.  “A lot of the citizens are complaining that the cars are not stopping.”

The city has tried several safety measures to reduce speed in the area.

Medians were installed, lines were painted and flashing light-up signal indicators were put in place but still, the issue remains.

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“Even with everything we have done, people are not stopping,” Van Neste said.

The city hopes this simple and cheap pilot project, costing only $150, will be an added measure that may help remedy the problem.

“It’s not expensive. Why not try it? It’s definitely not increasing the risk,” Van Neste said.

Read more: City of Montreal touts success of ‘sanitary corridors,’ critics disagree

The jury is still out on whether it will improve the dangerous intersection.

The city says it has noticed drivers have reduced their speed out of curiosity but it is still too early to tell.

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This method is used in other municipalities throughout Canada. The city was inspired after visiting the Maritime provinces, where the idea has taken off.

Residents like Ryan Irvine say they are glad the city has taken action.

“After installing flashing lights and paint, people still aren’t stopping. What does it take?” he said.

Piéton Quebec, a pedestrian advocacy group, salutes the initiative but said it doesn’t go far enough.

“The crosswalk flags are not a real solution to road safety problems,”  spokesperson Chloé Fortin Côté said.

“What needs to be done, in order to protect the pedestrians, is to change the street design.”

Read more: Driver arrested after 9 pedestrians struck by car in Montreal North

The current pandemic poses an issue as the shared flags could be cause for concern.

The city says it was something that was discussed but deemed not as dangerous.

“We didn’t think it was an issue — it’s the same as a door handle. Plus, with the cold weather, people will be wearing gloves,” Van Neste said.

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The pilot project has no end date, according to the city, and will remain in place.

If proven effective, the city will look into adding additional flag stations throughout the city.

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