By: Samantha Phelps and Rodrigo Blankenship
At the University of Georgia, there is a trend of a lack of safety for pedestrians looming large among students on campus every day. Based on recent interviews conducted around campus of UGA students, there is a general sense of unease regarding the safety of crosswalks and other pedestrian utilities on campus.
According to the CDC, in 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in the United States. That averages out to one crash-related pedestrian death every two hours.
In November of 2015, the Athens-Clarke County Transportation and Public Works commission allocated $260,000 to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety around the University’s campus, which included $203,000 dedicated to renovating crosswalks on South Lumpkin, Prince Avenue, Dougherty Street, South Milledge and Baxter Street.
Despite these recent efforts, it seems a fair number of students still do not enjoy the sense of security and protection that they deserve when they make use of the campus’ designated crosswalks.
“Sometimes you feel a little skittish to cross [a crosswalk],” says Will Cowart, a fifth-year student. Cowart, who was almost hit by a car while attempting to cross South Jackson Street heading to the North Deck, states that he always has to “peek around the corner and try to get a beat on cars coming,” when attempting to cross a crosswalk located behind a bus stop, which he says happens “all the time.”
Students crossing the street aren’t the only ones who are hesitant when in the vicinity of a crosswalk. Drivers also possess some of the same fears that students, like Cowart, encounter daily.
“I would just say you should definitely look twice,” says Kyle Hunsinger, a second-year health promotions student.
Hunsinger states that he almost hit someone in the crosswalk by the Biological Sciences building that he didn’t see coming from behind a bus. He says the road by the Biological Sciences bus stop is fun to drive on, so he usually goes ––fast.
Students like Charles Lawrence, who frequently use crosswalks on River Road by East Deck and Busbee Hall, on Sanford Drive by the Tate Center and the same crosswalk on Jackson Street, where Will Cowart was almost struck, are certainly aware of many drivers’ tendency to speed on campus.
Lawrence said that one of the crosswalks he is most wary of is “over at the crosswalk heading to ECV from Joe Frank [Dining Commons] at the edge of East Deck because people speed there all the time.” He also mentioned a sense of unsettlement when attempting to cross a sign-less and beacon-less crosswalk on South Jackson Street, the same one Will Cowart was crossing when he was almost struck.
Tanner Stumpe, a fourth-year student, has no trouble relating to Lawrence’s worries.
Stumpe was almost hit by a car when using the crosswalk on Baldwin Street between Park Hall and the Fine Arts building. Stumpe almost took a front bumper to the butt, as he walked through the crosswalk behind a bus that had pulled up in front of it at the former Park Hall bus stop.
Stumpe said he, “had to do an evasive maneuver to jump over the headlight,” of the car that was unable see him stepping out from behind the bus.
One final close encounter with an oncoming vehicle described by one of the individuals interviewed comes from J.T Hager, a fourth-year student at UGA. Hager detailed what would become a race through a crosswalk with a bus driver, in which Hager was attempting to cross the crosswalk on River Road between East Deck and Busbee Hall. Hager was forced to stop dead in his tracks in the middle of the crosswalk for a bus that refused to yield and sped down River Road, headed for the bus stop on Carlton Street by the Georgia Museum of Art.
Here is our interview with 1st -year finance student, George Zeanah.
How can Crosswalk Safety be Improved?
“Maybe put the lights on the crosswalks that you can push so cars see you [are] crossing.” — Joey Alves, 4th-year student
“More flashers (the flashing light beacons mentioned earlier) and more street posts and lights.” — J.T. Hager, fourth-year education major
“More flashers, and making them (the light beacons) more ostentatious and more visible,” —Will Cowart, 5th-year political science major
“Maybe placing STOP signs or yield signs at all of them. Or they should add those flashing posts at every crosswalk.” —Tanner Stumpe, fourth-year biology major
“Put lights in on all the crosswalks, and make sure there is a clear view of the crosswalks from the street,”— George Zeanah, 1st-year finance major
“I think if they add a timer on all the crosswalks it would make it safer. Also if the pedestrians stand back from the corner a little more, then the driver’s wouldn’t be worried about hitting them,”— Grant Parris, senior finance major
“Flashing lights are a great idea. Those are the safest crosswalks in my opinion, rather than just a light saying ‘walk.’” —Josh Moran, 1st-year
“Flashers. Those things are so helpful. Especially at night and around curves like the turn by East Deck.”— Charles Lawrence, 2nd-year management of information systems major
“I would make these crosswalks safer by installing lights that flash when pedestrians are using them.”— Drew Doris, 4th-year marketing major
“The best thing we could do is probably the reflective crosswalks [speaking about reflective coatings of paint that would shine when car lights hit it]. Adding more flashers and “STOP”signs at all of them also have my full support.” —Brandon Amirouche, 2nd-year student
“We could totally include cross bars that go down during walk signs!”— Michael Sway, junior anthropology major
“Install some of those retractable, automatic pylons that stick out of the ground when the light changes. That’ll definitely stop cars from running the lights.”— Braden Sanders, 3rd-year international affairs major.
“The biggest thing I would say is definitely adding more of the flasher lights at busy crosswalks. Because whenever I deliver [pizzas] at night that is the best way for me personally [as a driver] to have time to slow down.” — Dakota Arrington, 3rd-year biological science major