Duke Energy: The company where nobody jaywalks

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I confess: I’ve been known to jaywalk. If there are no cars coming for miles, then yes, I’ll walk when the sign tells me “Don’t Walk.”

I clearly do not work at Duke Energy.

At Duke Energy, employees are strongly discouraged from jaywalking.

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And they really don’t do it! At lunch in uptown, there are always a gaggle of suited up men and women who just stand at intersections, waiting patiently for the Walk sign to blink on. Inevitably, they all are wearing Duke ID badges.

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I asked a Duke spokesman, Randy Wheeless, about this law-abiding but maddening (at least I would go crazy from just waiting) practice. The explanation is part history, part safety.

DUKE_ENERGY_006Back when the Duke building at 400 S. Church was king, employees would cross the middle of Church to get to some offices across the street. It wasn’t safe, so a crosswalk was built.

dukenergycenterWhen those offices were torn down to make room for the new Duke building, the crosswalk disappeared – but employees kept crossing. It wasn’t safe.

On top of that, there were several big-publicity fatalities involving pedestrians in uptown, most notably at Stonewall and College.

So Duke, which has a pretty big responsibility to make safety first, decided the corporate culture would include no jaywalking. It’s safer. And everybody does it, from the brass on down to the 9-5’ers.

What happens if somebody gets “caught” by a fellow employee. Well, it’s more of a peer pressure sort of thing, Wheeless admits, there’s no formal reprimand. But it works.

“It’s very tempting,” Wheeless says, “… but it’s just a part of working at Duke Energy.”

Photos: Jen Rothacker; Charlotte Observer file.

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