Photograph courtesy of ThirdAge.com

The City of Pittsburgh has more than 100 crossing guards that put themselves in harm’s way every day to keep children, drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists safe at our intersections. These men and women are not paid very well but they are some of the most dedicated public servants in the city. It is time that we start giving them the tools they need to protect our city and keep themselves safe.

1. Provide the Proper Equipment

Crossing guards are our eyes and ears on the street in our school zones and at dangerous intersections. Yet, crossing guards in Pittsburgh are not issued two-way radios and are instead made to rely on their personal cell phones for communication. If a crossing guard doesn’t own a personal cell phone or doesn’t bring it to work, they are effectively cut off from communication with Public Safety officials and city administrators. If an incident occurs near a crossing guard’s post we need that guard to have the equipment necessary to call for help and alert authorities. It is imperative that we equip every crossing guard in the City of Pittsburgh with a two-way radio for use in emergencies.

Many states require that, in addition to two-way radios, crossing guards are equipped with hand-held stop signs to ensure that signals are clear to drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Pittsburgh’s crossing guards must rely on hand signals, which could be misinterpreted or simply missed by distracted drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists, leading to an accident. We should update our policies to provide our crossing guards with clearly visible hand-held signs to aid them in their jobs.

2. Prioritize Complete Streets Planning Near Schools

The city should have an overarching policy for complete streets citywide, but we should pay special attention to streets near schools, where a multi-modal transportation mix is most likely. All intersections within a three block radius of a school should be equipped with audible traffic signals, clearly designated bicycle lanes, and digital countdown displays. These simple fixes will make our streets safer for everyone and will provide our crossing guards with the infrastructure support they need to do their jobs.