Rocky Anderson is more determined than ever to create conditions where crossing a downtown street doesn't turn into a run for your life.

That intensified after 9-year-old Scott Ho was struck Wednesday in a crosswalk at 900 West and 600 South by a northbound car driven by Edie Zeballos, 41, North Salt Lake. The roller-skating youth was carrying one of Anderson's pet safety devices, the much-discussed orange flag, and that seemed to get the Salt Lake mayor's goat even more.

"Why this motorist failed to stop for a little boy carrying a big orange flag in the middle of a crosswalk is completely beyond me," Anderson said.

The youth was taken to Primary Children's Medical Center. His injuries were not believed major, which scarcely placated Anderson.

"This could have been truly tragic. My attention obviously has been focused on this problem for a long time, but we're going to concentrate on it even more and make these streets safe for pedestrians," Anderson said.

To that end, he promised several actions, beginning with a crackdown using fines.

"We are going to increase enforcement at these crosswalks. Maybe after a few $70 fines, some of these motorists will begin to see the light," Anderson said.

Acting immediately on that front, Anderson and Salt Lake police ordered extra officers on 900 West Thursday. A digital "speedboard," showing how fast drivers were going, was set up at 600 South as officers on motorcycles with radar guns waited on the corner. They issued 14 tickets, ranging from speeding to failing to yield to pedestrians to unsafe lane changes.

The presence apparently got motorists to slow down — the average speed for 4,101 vehicles clocked Thursday was 32 mph, said Salt Lake Police Sgt. Jim Hill.

Anderson promises he's not through. Among other safety-enhancing plans: More overhead yellow warning lights at crosswalks, activation buttons by which pedestrians can trigger the lights, numerous digital speedboards approaching crosswalks and countdown clocks letting pedestrians know how much time they have to strike out across a street.

Equipment alone isn't the total answer, he said.

"Speedboards and overhead lights are great traffic-calming devices, but even if you're going the speed limit or less, you pose a serious danger if you're not paying attention."

He also took a shot at a problem rising on nearly everyone's list of safety concerns. Cell phones.

Police records show that from Oct. 1, 1999 to Feb. 1, 2000, officers cited 44 drivers throughout the city for failure to yield and other pedestrian right-of-way violations. They issued pedestrians 709 jaywalking citations. There were 68 automobile-pedestrian accidents.

For a similar period, Oct. 1, 2000 to Feb. 1, 2001, while Anderson's flag program was under way, citations by officers skyrocketed to 1,155 for drivers and 441 for pedestrians. There were 66 accidents.

More narrowly, police say, in a quadrant from North Temple to 900 South, and 700 East to 1-15, automobile-pedestrian accidents have declined from 31 to 20.

If the jury is out on whether Anderson's orange-flag project is making an impact, his faith in them remains strong.

"It's only anecdotal at this point, but I can't believe they haven't made a difference. I used to be terrified of stepping off a downtown curb, but I know I feel safer carrying a flag through a mid-block crosswalk," he said.

Yes, but maybe they recognize he's the mayor?

"That might make 'em speed up," Anderson said, chuckling.

If his efforts fail to produce desired results, Anderson wants to get deeper into violators' pockets.

"We might see multiples of the $70 fine. I'd like to see many times that amount if you injure a pedestrian," Anderson said.

And if a person is carrying an orange flag?

"Whatever the fine was, I'd triple it," he said.


E-MAIL: gtwyman@desnews.com