‘Grim Reapers’ teach Pittsburgh pedestrians about phone safety

The Grim Reaper has taken to the streets of downtown Pittsburgh to teach pedestrians how to use their phones safely while walking.

The “Look Alive” program launched by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership in conjunction with the Port Authority, the Allegheny County Health Department and Bike Pittsburgh has Grim Reapers and ghouls wandering the downtown area to warn pedestrians of the dangers of using their phones.

“Someone will walk out and slam into the side of the bus,” Port Authority CEO Ellen McLean told WTAE. “And remember, when our drivers stop short, everybody in the bus is also jolted.”

While the reaper’s and zombies appear menacing, president and CEO of the Downtown Partnership Jeremy Waldrup told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette they will approach pedestrians in a “playful” manner while offering a “Get out of Death Free” to lead them to the program’s website.

“You tweet, you’re going to be flat in the street, is what I’m saying,” one reaper said to a passerby.

The city is also implementing “geofencing” technology developed by Red House Communications which sends alerts to pedestrians phones, warning them to look up when approaching a busy intersection.

“We’re using the technology that’s distracting people [surfing the web while walking on busy streets] to teach them,” Waldrup said.

The reapers will remain in the downtown area throughout October to help pedestrians and others share the downtown space.