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crossing guard appreciation thread

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erok

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Dec 21 2010 at 5:09pm #

you guys are great! this morning, i was on butler, stopped at the red light on like 45th, and this crossing guard yells at me “hey you on the bike! I’ll get you through the light so you can get a nice head start! Merry Christmas!!” then she proceeded to block the cross street for me.

Keep fighting the good fight, you fluorescent super heros.

here’s one about to slay some traffic


cburch

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Dec 21 2010 at 5:14pm #

they are a highly under-appreciated group of people.


Marko82

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Dec 21 2010 at 5:33pm #

I also have encountered many helpful crossing guards, including the one at 45th – she called me honey which put a big smile on my face :)


mark

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Dec 21 2010 at 5:55pm #

i used to talk to her every day, her sons ride bikes and she got into the habit of stopping traffic for me when possible and waving me though…. even though i’m sure she deals with crazy stuff every day i never saw her in a bad mood, pretty incredible.

another top contender for #1 crossing guard is in front of the school buried in the middle of regent sq/wilkinsburg at the bottom of the hill after the school… that guy is amazing when he’s paying attention and not chatting on the corner, but not nearly as reliable!


Noah Mustion

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Dec 21 2010 at 6:00pm #

yeah that crossing guard at 45th & butler is great. yesterday afternoon i was walking on the other side of the street and she stopped her conversation, turned my way and yelled “hey you! merry xmas!”


rsprake

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Dec 21 2010 at 6:02pm #

That’s Kelly Elementary School and he is the nicest guy. He chats it up with everyone. There are a few other crossing guards I try to say hello to who won’t even acknowledge me.

A daily hello goes a long way to improve a daily trip.


ejwme

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Dec 21 2010 at 6:26pm #

I’ve never met a crossing guard I didn’t like, whether I’m on foot, bike, or in a car. I don’t know what it is, but they’ve all been super people. It’s one of the sad things about the end of the school year, when they have the summer off. Not that their vacations are bad things, but I miss seeing them, I mean.


RoadKillen

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Dec 21 2010 at 7:27pm #

+1000 for the crossing guard on 45th and Butler. I used to live in the building on that corner.

She helped me out when someone crashed into my parked car and took off.


edmonds59

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Dec 21 2010 at 7:40pm #

Obey Street and Steubenville Pike in Crafton, this woman can’t possibly see more than 12 cyclists in a year, and I’m probably 4 of them, at a corner that’s a melee of elementary kids waiting for the bus, commuters waiting to get on the bus, really sketchy people waiting to get on the bus, she says hello and have a nice day like I’m and old pal.


Swalfoort

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Dec 21 2010 at 8:14pm #

same with the woman at California and Benton in Brighton Heights. She’s awesome.


Kayla

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Dec 21 2010 at 8:52pm #

The woman at Dawson and the Boulevard of the Allies is awesome too–I think she said she’s been doing this for 18 years.


caitlin

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:20pm #

the guard at the corner of howley and main by liberty and the shur save was always my hero when i lived over there. cars never ever stopped and it was a terrible intersection.

i love crossing guards.


myddrin

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:28pm #

I regularly see 2. The one @ Race And Pennwood and another on Greenfield near the Catholic school. First is very friendly, second is not so much.

Oddly, I met the son of the one at Race & Pennwood a few days ago. Apparently she has been a crossing guard for 4 generations of children in Edgewood!


dwillen

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:34pm #

I pass the lady at Greenfield and Lydia (by the Catholic school) daily. She is super nice if you are on foot. Whenever I walk across the street she stands and halts traffic. When I’m on my bike she will not even wave. Not sure if she has made the connection that I am the same person.


bikefind

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:35pm #

There are two in squirrel Hill I really like. One I see on Shady, not sure of the cross street- probably Beacon or thereabouts. When I first saw her directing traffic, she was *dancing*.

The other is on Murray. I feel like I’ve seen her at more than one cross street, but again probably around Beacon. Absolute sweetie.


erok

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:41pm #

whoa.

i’m looking over the 2011 proposed city budget right now, and the city spends almost $2M on crossing guards.

$2M because people (many of which don’t even live in the city) can’t be civil on the streets.

talk about the high price of car culture.

in comparison, there’s $100K dedicated for bike infrastructure improvements.

think about that the next time someone says that bike lanes/trails are a waste of money.

i’m not saying that the guards are a waste of money, i love them!


rsprake

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:43pm #

How do crossing guards cost $2m? That’s crazy.

One of the crossing guards at Race and Pennwood is an old neighbor of mine. Really nice lady.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:44pm #

Or another way of looking at that is $2M protecting kids. Isn’t that more to the point?

(Otherwise I agree with the larger point, that $100K is a pretty paltry sum by comparison.)


erok

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:49pm #

yeah, i was kinda shocked too. i don’t think i’m reading it wrong.

Oddly, I met the son of the one at Race & Pennwood a few days ago. Apparently she has been a crossing guard for 4 generations of children in Edgewood! the PG should interview her


erok

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Dec 21 2010 at 9:50pm #

Or another way of looking at that is $2M protecting kids. Isn’t that more to the point? of course! but there’s one thing that they are protecting kids from


dwillen

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Dec 21 2010 at 10:22pm #

Think of the children!

I have never seen a crossing guard outside of Pittsburgh. I never knew they even had such a thing anymore. I now realize there are crossing guards all over, just never where I’ve lived I guess. Seems to be something about the driving culture here where yielding to pedestrians (particularly children, in this case) is not commonplace.

In fact, bike infrastructure in Davis, CA became so awesome that they just eliminated the school bus service because it was safe enough for all the kids to just bike to school.*

*Unfortunately, there seems to be an ever-increasing line of SUVs lined up to drop kids off at school every morning. I think it speaks volumes that this line of autos dropping their kids off/picking them up is almost entirely SUVs. In a town without a hill, and near perfect weather everyday.


Mick

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Dec 21 2010 at 10:48pm #

Two million seems a lot at first. If it costs $50K a year to put one out there, then that is only 20 for the city. Not many.

What with benefits, retirement, and administrative costs, it strikes me that $50 might be on the low side.

@dwillen- SUVs are a measure of how much TV people watch. They are not purchased because they are economical (they aren’t). They aren’t purchased because they are safe (they aren’t).

Many, many advertising dollars, some affecting content, can make even the chimp-butt ugly SUVs “attractive”. It’s the magic of TV!


Erica

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Dec 21 2010 at 11:00pm #

at my old place, the bus drivers would sometimes pass my stop, and when I would come riding back, the crossing guard (arlington/elanor) would always talk about how “I wondered where you were going!” She’d also stop rush hour traffic (which, on arlington isn’t horrible, but was tough to break into) so I could hit the road.


Noah Mustion

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Dec 21 2010 at 11:12pm #

$50k to be a crossing guard? Where do I sign up?


stefb

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Dec 21 2010 at 11:34pm #

+1 crossing guard on butler at 45th. she stops what she is doing and waves to me if i ever go through that area late enough.


StuInMcCandless

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Dec 22 2010 at 12:02am #

$2M at 50K per would be 40 guards. They wouldn’t take home 50K; that’s the cost to the employer. I’m guessing they don’t see 40K.

We’ve had the same crossing guard at Perry Hwy at Sandle, one block past Perrymont, since my son was in kindergarten over 15 years ago. I’m not sure if it’s township or school district footing the bill, but I don’t care. Stopping traffic on a 4-lane highway nowhere near a light has to take some guts.


Swalfoort

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Dec 22 2010 at 12:20am #

The school crossing guards were almost cut from the City budget in 2004. 200 jobs were saved when the Pittsburgh Public Schools agreed to split the cost with the City. These are part time positions, so no benefits. Paying just above minimum wage, average earnings are more like $20-22K per year.

But, in checking all this out I discovered that there is a phone number at City Police where you can call to compliment a crossing guard (or complain, of course). The phone is 412-665-3775. I suspect 311 would work as well.


Ahlir

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Dec 22 2010 at 12:24am #

This is a recognition to the lady who’s done crossing-guard duty at Forbes and Murray.

She works at the Right-Aid on the corner but does the crossing-guard thing as well.

One day she calls us, to tell us that our son had left his oboe in the bus shelter (twit! but that’s another topic).

What a marvelous person!

I sincerely doubt that crossing-guards get paid $50k at year. That claim sounds more like one of those right-wing attacks on community services. Also, 40 guards for all of Pittsburgh out sounds out of line. There are probably many more, or the budget number is wrong (or otherwise unexplained). We’re looking at ~4 hours of work a day ($50/hr!). So why doesn’t someone working ~minimum wage at Rite-Aid just quit and do the guard gig “full” time? It’s like 7x the salary for half the time. Get real.


Mick

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Dec 22 2010 at 12:57am #

When I said it might cost $50 grand for a crosswalk guard, I didn’t mean they take anything near that home. Costs of hiring, insurance, benefits (sick days, vacation, retirement), cost of supervising, buying uniforms, social security tax, and payroll clerking.

$50K cost and $22K to each crosswalk guard on the streets might be realistic.

Probably costs Rite Aid $200 grand a year to man a register 24 X 7 at minimum wage .


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Dec 22 2010 at 12:57am #

Regardless of the cost, crossing guards are public money well spent, in my humble opinion. Whether strictly a practical matter, or a union deal or whatever, they are a municipalities expression of how it values it’s children.

It was perhaps injudicious (particularly given the context in which this thread was begun) to conflate crossing guards with municipal expenditures on bike lanes.


erok

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Dec 22 2010 at 2:55am #

if i’m reading the budget right, there are 132 crossing guards (i’m not sure if that’s guards or shifts) plus a supervisor and assistant supervisor

These are part time positions, so no benefits. Paying just above minimum wage, average earnings are more like $20-22K per year.

if i’m reading it right, they are getting $26K for 200 days a year.

Regardless of the cost, crossing guards are public money well spent, in my humble opinion.

totally agree, that’s why i started the thread.

It was perhaps injudicious (particularly given the context in which this thread was begun) to conflate crossing guards with municipal expenditures on bike lanes.

fair ’nuff. i wasn’t trying to pit them against each other. just pointing out that $2M is a lot of cash to spend because people can’t seem to drive sanely. it’s def money well spent. in a perfect world i guess we wouldn’t need crossing guards. or bikepgh for that matter.

until then, GOOooooOOOO Crossing Guards!!!

here’s one giving a hug. what other public employee does this!


erok

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Dec 22 2010 at 3:12am #

here’s one in the 50s in Friendship looking stylish!


erok

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Dec 22 2010 at 3:22am #

here’s one lecturing a bunch of kids on traffic safety in 1950.

Can anyone guess where that is?


Steven

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Dec 22 2010 at 3:40am #

The number of guards seems to have varied a lot over time. As Sara said, there were about 200 in 2004 when the city agreed to split the cost of them with the school district. But this story from 2006 says

The city budgeted for 159 crossing guards this year at a cost of about $1.88 million, but only 127 guards are on the payroll. Next year’s budget cuts 27 of those 159 positions, leaving a potential 132 crossing guards.

That 2006 article also says

Crossing guards make about $12,727 a year.

I wonder if the $26K/year figure Erok cited could be the total cost to the city, including various types of overhead? I can believe the guards might make a bit more today than they did in 2006, but not twice as much. (I find it surprising, though, that overhead for part-time workers could roughly double their cost.)

For comparison, this article from 2008 says that crossing guards in Clairton (all fired that year) had been making $8/hour for a 4 hour day. At about 200 school days a year, they were presumably earning $6400/year.


erok

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Dec 22 2010 at 4:05am #

well, like i said, i don’t really know what all of the numbers in the budget mean.

if you simply take the $1.75 Million, and divide by 132, it comes to $13,310.

whether that is for each guard, i don’t know.

the 26 figure that i cited may be because i’m not sure what the category exactly meant, and thinking that $13K was too low


Ahlir

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Dec 22 2010 at 4:10am #

I find it hard to believe that municipalities charge ~100% overhead, though I’ve worked for companies that managed to get 200% (3.0); 50-60% is probably the decent norm.

I also find it offensive to oppose the interests of children and cyclists. We’re adults and we can take care of ourselves; kids can’t. Get a clue.


Lyle

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Dec 22 2010 at 4:39am #

I think erok meant to say “in the 1970s in Friendship…stylish.”

To be fair to the motoring public, some of the other things that crossing guards do are: prevent kids from beating each other up in certain times and places, prevent kids from throwing stones/apples/chestnuts/snowballs at cars/busses/trucks, prevent kids from pushing each other into the street, or crossing against the light… etc.

It’s not *just* that people don’t drive sanely, it’s that in order to provide complete safety for children walking to work, cars would need to be practically banned, and that’s a step farther than we are willing to go.


erok

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Dec 22 2010 at 5:13am #

I also find it offensive to oppose the interests of children and cyclists. We’re adults and we can take care of ourselves; kids can’t. Get a clue.

now now, i never said i wanted to oppose the two. as far as taking care of ourselves, there’s many intersections that i have trouble getting through without a crossing guard


Ahlir

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Dec 22 2010 at 5:31am #

Hey Mick,

24x7x365 @ $8/hr (way above minimum) plus a typical 23% benefits works out to $75,423.60 p.a.

What’s with your $200k p.a.??

Anyway, guards aren’t working 24h/day… more like 4. Do the math.


caitlin

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Dec 22 2010 at 5:33am #

no lie I looked into being a crossing guard when i moved back here. work a few hours in the morning, a few in the afternoon?! see happy kids! i was into it. but being that it is a city job it was a little more complicated than that. I do think the wage was something like $9-12 an hour, but I cant remember. no benefits like erok said, it was part time. but sweet if you think about it!

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