The program, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services, started last summer when steel containers were installed at six intersections in Fortuna to hold bright yellow safety flags. When pedestrians cross the intersections, they can pick up a flag, give a signal they are crossing, then drop the flag in the bucket on the other side of the street.
These flags now need to be replaced, and that’s where the students come in.
The teens have designed an image that will be printed on the new flags showing a person safely crossing the street. Brina Moore, a Fortuna High senior, is leading the student effort with guidance from art teacher Daniel Holmes.
”The pedestrian flags are mainly helpful to drivers,” Moore said. “Their headlights reflect the bright yellow flags and drivers are able to see pedestrians in crosswalks sooner.”
The flags are located at the intersections of Rohnerville Road and School Street, South Fortuna Boulevard and Redwood Village Drive, Newel Drive and South Main Street/Rohnerville Road, Rohner Street and Rohnerville Road, South Main Street near the entrance to Rohner Park, 16th and Main streets and 7th and Main streets.
Project organizers are also hoping to get businesses, service clubs and neighbors involved. They are encouraging groups to “adopt” a crosswalk. That would include helping monitor the flags and donating funds to purchase replacement flags. Business or club logos can be printed on the flags. The cost of the flags is between $2 and $4 each.
”The safety flag program has been well-received in Fortuna,” said Michelle Postman, health educator in the DHHS healthy communities division. “The support from the Fortuna High art students has energized and brought new ideas to the project. Having youth leaders take ownership and be involved is appreciated and we hope it will motivate other community members to join in.”
The flag project was initially started with a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The program began in Kirkland, Wash., and has been used in places like Salt Lake City and Seattle.
In addition to DHHS, Fortuna’s police, community development, public works and engineering departments, the city manager’s office, Fortuna business improvement district and the Fortuna city council have been involved in the flag safety program.
To find out more about adopting a crosswalk or for more information, contact Postman at email@example.com or 441-5567.
Fortuna High art teacher Daniel Holmes, left, and senior Brina Moore display one of the new flags that will be used in a bicycle and pedestrian safety program in Fortuna.