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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 25, 2024

Poorly marked crosswalks endanger students

The lack of signs at the bottom of Bascom Hill has been nagging me for a little while now. Once I read about the Tuesday hit-and-run at the crosswalk at the foot of the hill, I felt compelled to talk about it. Living around that area, I often use that crosswalk and have noticed that some drivers are either oblivious or ill-intentioned to pedestrians. But this was not so much of an issue not too long ago.

When I first moved into my place at the end of August, the crosswalk bore a clear sign asking drivers to yield. The crosswalk where our fellow student was hit used to have such a sign. While this may seem unimportant to the situation at hand, the simple warning of a visual obstacle, such as this large yield sign, makes the use and importance of that crosswalk clear to drivers. Eventually though, the sign was taken off the crosswalk, leaving only a not-too-visible zone of white parallel lines as markers.

When I think back to when the sign was around, the traffic traversing that crosswalk seemed much more sympathetic to pedestrians. To me, that simple sign seemed to convey to the driver loud and clear they must slow down and yield to pedestrians.

In the end, whether one is in a car or not, there will always be people who will endanger others, even in incredibly crowded areas. For this reason I feel it is absolutely necessary for the city and university to work together to make clear the legal responsibilities drivers must maintain in pedestrian walkways.

I am happy the student hit on Tuesday only suffered minor injuries, but the cowardly drivers represents something I recently experienced. One event in particular occurred just a week before writing this and happened on the small road where McTaggert’s is located, perpendicular to Langdon Street. Walking down the small residential road, a car came speeding at me and my friend going about 20 mph, despite the inevitability of having to stop to turn. He slowed—slightly—to about 10 mph just 50 feet from me and did not turn enough to avoid me until he was about 10-15 feet away from us. While we wouldn’t have sustained major injuries, it was still a threat to our health. The car just drove off—seems he couldn’t face the reality of his gross negligence.

After noting this pattern of neglect in the area, I feel using clear yield signs and messages will help slow down drivers. On university grounds, specifically the crosswalk at the bottom of Bascom Hill, there is no reason why pedestrians should not have full priority when using that space. After all, it is fair to say the overwhelming majority of people living in the area get around by bike or by walking. It seems not making this clear to drivers is leading to more incidents like the hit-and-run on Tuesday afternoon.

This story, whether one feels endangered or not, exemplifies the need for the city and university to do the best they can to minimize these incidents. This should include making the laws known and signs more prominent.

When this occurred, around 12:45 p.m., any one of us could have felt secure in the notion of pedestrian priority and had their life endangered by a driver that blatantly ignored the rights and safety of the pedestrian.

Matthew Curry is a junior majoring in political science and environmental studies. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com.

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