Signs in downtown crosswalks encouraging pedestrians to look both ways before crossing streets are part of an effort by Mayor Rocky Anderson to make the city more walkable and pedestrian-friendly.
Signs urging motorists to watch out for pedestrians also are being placed around the downtown area. They are part of a larger pedestrian safety strategy that includes pedestrian crosswalk timers, orange crosswalk flags and — soon — in-roadway crosswalk lights.
The improvements aren't part of the city's Olympic preparations. "They would have been made anyway because they're part of our pedestrian-safety initiative," said Anderson spokesman Joshua Ewing.
The in-roadway crosswalk lights will be put in this fall at 200 South and Regent Street across from the Gallivan Center. The lights are pedestrian activated, just like a crosswalk button, said transportation engineer Dan Bergenthal.
Bergenthal said the yellow flashing light system is solar-powered and the latest in technology. Cities around the country have been trying them.
Salt Lake City is one of the first in the country to try the crosswalk "look" signs, which are painted directly on the crosswalks.
The mayor's office got the idea for the "look" signs from Europe.
"We saw pictures and created our own," Bergenthal said. "It's such a great idea, so we're trying it."
Bergenthal said about 1,100 of the "Look" signs will be painted in Salt Lake City — in every downtown and city school crosswalk.
This pedestrian safety strategy is "a mixture of trying to be innovative and also follow the lead of other cities," Ewing added.
The City Council appropriated $150,000 for pedestrian improvements and another $100,000 was received from the city's Redevelopment Agency to install countdown timers in certain areas of town.
Ewing said about 150 of the countdown timers are being installed and another 150 will be put in next spring.
Salt Lake's efforts to improve pedestrian safety have been nationally recognized already. The U.S. Conference of Mayors gave the city a livability award for its pedestrian safety and a national newsletter for transportation engineers recognized improvements being made in pedestrian safety.
Ewing said a pedestrian and bicycle festival in October will promote better understanding of pedestrian safety downtown and will offer tours of the new equipment and signage in the downtown area. An exact date for the event has not been set.