Sign aims to protect pedestrians

Sandra Knox, who has worked at Roper Hospital for 12 years, uses an orange caution flag as she crosses Calhoun Street at Courtenay Drive. 'I use it for my safety,' said Knox, who crosses the busy intersection daily.

Issuing bright orange flags for pedestrians to wave as they cross Calhoun Street apparently wasn't enough to keep motorists at bay, so the city has installed a nearly $3,000 sign to remind drivers of the law requiring them to yield.

The intersection of Calhoun Street and Courtenay Drive, at the foot of the James Island connector, has lots of foot traffic from Roper Hospital and Medical University of South Carolina, and public safety there has been an ongoing concern.

It's the only intersection in Charleston where the crosswalks are stocked with 18-inch orange flags for pedestrians to carry, a pilot program that was modeled after flag systems in other cities.

The city and Roper Hospital consider the flags a success, and said the new sign is an added safety measure.

"Many of our employees do use the flags; I've seen them crossing with them," said Roper/St. Francis Healthcare Media Relations Manager Margaret Mullins. "I don't think anyone has been stealing them, I'm happy to say."

The new sign, "Turning traffic must yield to pedestrians," is aimed at cars coming down Courtenay Drive, which will have to turn onto Calhoun Street.

"Our employees are very happy about the whole program, and especially the sign," Mullins said.

"I think that at certain times of the day the glare from the sun causes a problem, and the sign reminds people to look out for pedestrians," she added.

The new LED sign, which went up Monday, is the first of its kind to be installed in the city.

"Charleston is a city for walking and we are working hard to create safer walkways," Mayor Joe Riley said.