The University Record, October 23, 2000

Letters

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Solutions for Catherine-Glen intersection proposed

This is a commentary on the Catherine-Glen intersection that played a role in Janis Marchyok’s death several weeks ago.

For almost four months, I rode the bus line in question to North Campus.

In my opinion, there are two solutions to improve safety at this awkward, busy and dangerous intersection.

  • Reroute the bus through the intersection and up Catherine St. From there, it could maneuver back onto Glen, perhaps via Fuller.

  • Make changes in the intersection’s structure. The bus descends roughly at a 15 degree grade from the Medical Library on its right. This grade itself adds an element of potential danger. Catherine Street at that point has three lanes. The right lane must turn right—through the pedestrian crosswalks of both Catherine and Glen. The middle lane traffic may turn right or continue straight up Catherine St. Left lane traffic must turn left.

    Another small but crucial factor in this accident is a bus stop located about 50 feet before the bus reaches Glen. This stop draws the bus into the right lane, forcing it to make the tightest turn onto Glen. I have ridden buses when the driver, not having to stop there, pulled into the center lane in order to take advantage of the wider turn ratio.

    Two things happen when a bus makes that turn, both dangerous to any pedestrian in the Glen Ave. crosswalk:

  • The angle of bus to curb closes quickly. The bus’ front end tracks rapidly right while the rear end is relatively still, having only to clear the curb. Remember that the bus must be in this lane because of the Catherine stop.

  • Once the bus clears the curb, it picks up speed because of Glen’s incline and the need to move away from traffic in the adjacent lane. The driver’s attention must be directed straight ahead so the bus does not hit a vehicle at its front left, no easy maneuver in optimal driving conditions.

    When a downpour enters the equation, the accident, tragic as it was, could scarcely have been avoided. Ms. Marchyok was, as I see it, closed down upon by the quickly closing right angle of the bus. I would not be surprised if driver and victim saw nothing.

    Suggestions: 1. Reroute the bus. 2. If not possible, remove the stop on Catherine; this may allow a turn from the middle lane onto Glen. Pedestrians can walk the short distance to the Medical Science II Building stop. Susan Wineberg’s suggestion (Oct. 2 Record) of a “Walk” sign only for pedestrians, with no traffic moving, also sounds very good to me, especially if the bus cannot be rerouted.

    If these are impossible, an officer should direct both traffic and crossing pedestrians in bad weather when visual awareness of traffic movement and drivers’ awareness of pedestrians, as we have seen, can mean the difference between life and death.

    Dennis Moore, audio/visual aide,
    Taubman Medical Library