Stolen flags could sink crosswalk effort


A crosswalk safety program in Aberdeen could be in jeopardy before it even has a chance to get going because of thieves or people who simply don’t understand the program.

As part of a community service project, Bellevue teen Sophia Troeh helped craft a flag system at the busy corner of Harbor Street and Heron, located right after the Heron Street Bridge on the way to the Olympic Gateway Mall.

Troeh lives in Bellevue but she commutes to the Harbor to see family and had always noticed the problems pedestrians had crossing in the area.

Troeh worked with Aberdeen sign engineer Scott Olsen to develop a flag system, where pedestrians can grab bright yellow plastic flags on poles and use them to help draw attention to get speeding cars to stop so they can cross the highway safely.

“On a two-lane, one-way highway, it’s always a problem when one vehicle stops and the other doesn’t, so this was a good way to remind drivers there’s a pedestrian present,” Olsen said.

The problem is that people keep stealing the flags. And yet the flags were just put out on Labor Day weekend.

“We put a dozen out at first and by the end of that first weekend, we had just two left,” Olsen said. “So we put out another dozen last Friday and today, on Wednesday, we’re down to two or three left.”

Olsen said he planned to put another dozen out last Friday “and then we’ll see what happens.”

The flags were made possible through donations of Holcomb’s Upholstery, Jacknut Apparel and Coastline Signs, according to Olsen.

“It’s relatively cheap material, but I really have no idea what someone would do with them or why they would take the flags,” Olsen said.

Olsen said they tried to keep the message pretty simple, placing containers on both sides of the roads with the yellow caution flags in them. There’s a small sign that reads, “Take it to make it.”

“This is probably the most crossed place in the area,” Olsen said.

“I’m really hoping to educate people so they know to leave the flags there for others to use them. I really want this program to succeed.”

Steven Friederich, a Daily World writer, can be reached at 537-3927, or by email at sfriederich@thedailyworld.com