Dane County Traffic Safety


P13310385_1232516330093221_3592890888080946180_nedestrian Flags in Dane County

According to observational studies conducted in Dane County communities, only about 6% of motorists yield to pedestrians, even though Wisconsin state law requires it. To increase safety we launched a pedestrian flag program in 2003, and saw yield to pedestrian rates go up to nearly 90% at targeted intersections. There are 50 pedestrian flag crossings throughout Dane County thanks to adopting organizations. To keep costs to a minimum, the sites were installed with PVC pipes used as makeshift flag holders, which are unsightly and can be easily damaged.

Artful Crossings Initiative

Fast forward 13 years since the program began, and a “beautiful” opportunity now exists thanks to a new partnership with area artists, Sector67Hackerspace and Madison Traffic Engineering Department. Through Artful Crossings, our current ‘ugly duckling’ holders will be retired and replaced with street art featuring local artists on newly tooled boxes.

Like so many communities, we have wonderful, creative artists whose work is unknown to many right here at home. We’re so excited to be able to showcase our artists in public places throughout the city! Thanks to in-kind contributions of time by Madison Traffic Engineering to install the holders in the public right of way and volunteer time provided by the fabricator of our boxes, Mike Fisher from Sector67.

Neighborhoods, business districts, police departments, and others can “adopt” these sites with support from Safe Communities. Click the ‘Pedestrian Flag Site Application’ button or the ‘Artist Submission’ button to the right for more information.

Helpful Information About Pedestrian Safety

Tips for Assertive but Safe Pedestrians

  • Point to the other side of the street with the flag high, while standing with at least one foot in the street (the legal trigger for drivers to yield). Look assertive!!
  • Gauge the traffic in the lane nearest you, and make and maintain eye contact with the first driver who has time make a gradual stop, let cars who are too close to stop go by before you begin to cross.
    • Remember – Cars take a long time to stop; at 25 mph allow 75 feet or about five car lengths, up to double that if you’re doing this for the first time, if you’re a slow walker, for speeders, or for bad weather conditions.
  • Maintain eye contact with your selected driver; step out into his lane only when you are sure the driver is going to stop.
  • Safely cross the lane in front of the stopped car while looking for the first car in the next lane whose driver can easily stop. Then maintain eye contact with that driver. Move carefully in front of the new car across the lane as it stops. Repeat lane by lane until you have crossed all traffic lanes.
  • IMPORTANT: Whenever you can (without being distracted) give drivers a smile, a wave, or “Thanks!” to demonstrate to drivers that pedestrians appreciate their courtesy! Remember that the flag is a helpful tool, but you still have to use normal caution. Don’t ever step into the path of a car when you are not sure the driver will stop.
  • In Summary – Make your intent to cross is clear. Make sure the driver has seen you before you begin to cross. Cross quickly and thank driver’s when you can!

Tips for Responsible Drivers

  • Stay distraction free. Put down your cell phones when driving, NEVER text and drive!
  • Obey the speed limit and keep well behind cars in front of you, so you can easily stop for pedestrians, and be well-positioned when the car ahead of you does stop.
  • Watch street edges and sidewalks AHEAD carefully for pedestrians and when you see someone obviously ready to cross, apply your brakes early and gently so the car behind you can stop, too.
  • Always assume a pedestrian is crossing the street whenever a driver in front of you, or in the lane next to you, slows down or stops. Never pass a slowed or stopped car until you are sure no one is crossing the street. Fine: $222.50! It’s extremely dangerous! Stop for the pedestrian at least a car length or two short of the crosswalk so cars behind you and the pedestrian can more easily see each other around your car. Remember that the next time you may be the pedestrian, and this pedestrian may be the driver waiting for you. And thanks for stopping for pedestrians!


Are you interested in helping maintain the Artful Crossings Stations?