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Pedestrian Flags - FAQs


Lake and Park Lane CrossingPedFlag is the name of Kirkland’s program which places orange or yellow flags at crosswalks to help pedestrians gain the attention of drivers.

Here are answers to some common questions about the PedFlag program. If your question is not answered here, contact Joel Pfundt,Transportation Manager at
(425) 587-3865.

Where are PedFlags found?

A: Depending on available budget, a PedFlag location is established when pedestrians request one. The criteria for a location requires an existing crosswalk in the Kirkland city limits that is not controlled by a traffic signal or other traffic control device. When the request is for a crosswalk outside of the central business district, a volunteer is required to help replace missing flags. The PedFlag location will be installed with a PedFlag holder (and sign if needed) at each end of the crosswalk to hold the flags. The equipment will be attached to an existing sign or utility pole that is near the crosswalk; if none are available, a sign pole will be installed too.

Q: How do I get PedFlag at a crosswalk I’m interested in?

A: Currently, new PedFlag locations are on hold due to budget constraints, but we continue to support the existing PedFlag sites. New volunteers are needed for existing sites that are not currently adopted throughout the city to help replace missing flags. See our volunteer web page to learn more about volunteering for the Adopt A PedFlag Crossing program (click on Public Safety and scroll down to Adopt A Pedestrian Flag Crossing). Flags and Cans

Q: How do the flags get replaced?

A: City staff maintains the locations in the Central Business District, making sure that adequate flags are in place. At other locations in Kirkland's neighborhoods, a volunteer is required to make sure the holders are stocked with flags. Kirkland has a volunteer program called Adopt a PedFlag Crossing. The City provides the flags at no charge to the volunteer who agrees to check on the site and make sure flags are in place. These guidelines explain more about volunteering to maintain a PedFlag site.

Q: How did PedFlag get started?

A: PedFlag started in 1995 with four locations in the Central Business District as an attempt to improve pedestrian safety in Kirkland. It came in the wake of two pedestrian accidents in the fall of 1994. Both of these accidents were fatal accidents involving adults. A Kirkland resident saw a similar system in Japan and suggested it be used here.

Q: How many PedFlag locations does Kirkland have?

A: Kirkland has approximately 73 PedFlag locations. 15 are located in the Central Business District and the remainder are located on arterials that run through the neighborhoods. They are at a variety of different kinds of crosswalks. PedFlag crossings can be found on streets with speeds ranging from 25 to 35 mph and on streets with two to five lanes of traffic.

Q: How does PedFlag work?

Pedestrian CrossingA: The basic concept of the PedFlag is to assist the pedestrian in gaining the attention of the approaching motorist. With the aid of the 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 the driver sooner by becoming more visible. This is a device that is low in cost and can be installed for pedestrian use in a timely manner. Once the equipment is installed at the crossing, the only ongoing cost is the replacement of the flags. Depending on the location and season, it can be zero to five flags a week.

Q: Is PedFlag effective? Ped Flag Users Central and 5th

A: Most of the evidence gathered supports the idea that PedFlag is helpful in encouraging pedestrian safety. A report, available through the Transportation Research Board, describes the performance of various pedestrian safety treatments including pedestrian flags.  Click NCHRP 562external link icon for the report and go to page 19, Motorist Warning Signs and Pavement Markings.

PedFlags have become very popular in Kirkland and the consensus among the volunteers and frequent users of the flags is that it does attract the attention of the driver sooner vs. an unaided pedestrian. This has led many of them to be installed on crossings along school walk routes and popular pedestrian walking routes. They do not automatically fix all the problems a potential location might have however.

Q: Why are some flags orange and some flags yellow?

A: At the start of the PedFlag program in 1995 we began with orange flags. In 2006 we conducted a study to see how we could get more people to use flags. We used social marketing techniques to improve the system. Nancy Lee at Social Marketing Services was the consultant. The study basically involved interviewing people who did and didn't use flags to understand why people were not using flags. The system was then redesigned using marketing principles to address these barriers.

One barrier was that pedestrians didn't know what the flag was for. The countermeasure for this was a new flag style which echoes the pedestrian warning sign in color and symbol. Another barrier to usage was that sometimes there were not enough flags available. This resulted in the redesigned holder which can hold more flags. The “Take It to Make It” slogan and other messages on the holders help to address the idea that some people didn't feel the crossing was dangerous enough to warrant carrying the flag. This marketing study describes the process.

Q: What about the holders?

Ped Fag Steel BucketA:  Kirkland uses a variety of equipment styles for PedFlag holders. Our original holders (which are used outside of the central business district) are made out of angle iron and steel tube and are fabricated by welding students at Lake Washington Technical College. We appreciate their cooperation with us over the years. These holders are accompanied by a sign. The earlier signs directed pedestrians on how to use PedFlag; later signs were simplified and display the pedFlag man symbol.

Our newest holders can be found in the central business district, they are a plastic or stainless steel container that has an open top which allows for easier access to the flags along with an increased amount of the flags to be placed at crossings which have a higher volume of pedestrian traffic. These holders are not accompanied by a sign. See pictures of PedFlag equipment in Kirkland.

Q: Do you have more information about Kirkland's PedFlag program?
A: Yes we do, and here are links to other useful information: 

Q: Are PedFlags popular elsewhere?

A: Although Kirkland was the first, lots of other cities now use PedFlag. Here are some links to other PedFlag cities:


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Public Works
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123 5th Avenue, Kirkland WA 98033
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915 8th St, Kirkland WA 98033

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