One Voice Is Making Reno's Streets Safer

May 19, 2017

If you have been walking around lately you may have heard a new voice at some crosswalks in Reno telling you when it’s safe to cross. It’s the new standard implemented by the City of Reno for all crosswalks. Reno Youth Radio’s Molly Concialdi has the story.

Reno Youth Radio reporters interview Kurt Dietrich, an associate civil engineer with the City of Reno.
Credit Reno Youth Radio

Standing at the corner of Keystone and 5th, it is clearly a really busy intersection. Suddenly you hear an unfamiliar voice.

Walk sign is on to cross 5th. Walk sign is on to cross 5th. Walk sign is on to cross 5th.

“This is our new standard, so as new signals come on board, we will install this equipment,” says Kurt Dietrich, an associate civil engineer with the City of Reno.

Dietrich says the voice has already been installed at 50 intersections, customized for each one. It was paid for with a $250,000 federal grant. Reaction to the new voice on street corners is mixed.

“It’s annoying. It’s loud and annoying,” says Jim Schmekly, who is walking across.

But some people say it does help a lot, like Maureen Fasolino.

“Yeah, I like it because it tells you when it’s time to go and it’s safer so people don’t try to run you over.”

The new system is meant to help people who have difficulty seeing. Local groups of people with disabilities requested it.

Walk sign is on to cross Keystone.

Dietrich says it’s working well. But who is the man behind the voice that could eventually be on every street corner?

“He is our mystery voice so to speak,” explains Dietrich. “His name is John Baker and he is a traffic signal technician.”

The man behind the voice declined to be interviewed for our story, but he is local. And technically, he is famous.

“I guess he would be our voice of Reno at this point,” Dietrich says.

A voice that is making the streets of Reno safer.