Pedestrians and motorists share safety responsibility
Upcoming reduced vehicle speed limits on North Campus, a new speed hump on Murfin Avenue and recent targeted police enforcement of crosswalk activity are intended to increase pedestrian safety on campus.
Complaints of pedestrians crossing campus streets with little regard to oncoming traffic and motorists driving too fast through crosswalks have been filed with staff in the University Planners Office and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), especially from pedestrians near the hospital and on North Campus.
"East Medical Center Drive is particularly challenging because it is a narrow area that buses, pedestrians and drivers all frequent," says Sue Gott, University Planner. "Many hospital visitors who are unfamiliar with our campus streets add to the traffic challenge."
Most streets in and around campus have posted speed limits of 25 mph. Notable exceptions in recent years have been streets on North Campus, including Murfin, Bonisteel, Hayward and Hubbard, which have had posted limits of 30 mph.
"This month we're reducing the speed limits on North Campus streets to 25 mph," says Bill Bess, director of DPS. "This will bring these streets in line with other campus streets.
"We're hopeful motorists will reduce their vehicle speeds and help pedestrians feel safer."
The speed limit change will occur in conjunction with the installation of a new raised crosswalk on Murfin at Duffield. The crosswalk will be much like a large speed hump. Spanning the entire width of the street, the crosswalk will be three inches high and 12 feet deep. The recommended speed over the crosswalk will be no more than 15 mph.
"The raised crosswalk is a traffic calming device that we're expecting will help slow down vehicles along Murfin, while providing pedestrians with a marked area to cross this busy street," Gott says. "This solution was identified after reviewing several traffic studies."
Police officers say pedestrians and motorists share street safety responsibility.
"We get complaints both from drivers and pedestrians," says Capt. Joe Piersante, commander of police services in DPS. "Our streets are very busy, especially near the hospital and during class changes. We need everyone paying close attention in order to maintain personal safety.
"Pedestrians shouldn't walk out in front of oncoming traffic, but drivers also must yield to pedestrians who have lawfully entered a marked crosswalk."
State and local traffic laws establish that both drivers and pedestrians have responsibilities when occupying streets. Driving violators can be ticketed for speeding, careless driving or failing to yield to pedestrians lawfully in a crosswalk. If pedestrians step in front of oncoming traffic, they can be cited for obstructing traffic. DPS recently has targeted police patrols near busy crosswalks.
Additionally, bus stop locations have been reviewed and adjusted as needed to assist bus passengers crossing busy streets, Gott adds.
Reduced vehicle speeds and observant pedestrians can enhance campus safety.
"Our campus often is filled with people on foot and bike or in carswhich has the potential for accidents and injuries," Bess says. "However, by being careful and yielding to oncoming traffic and pedestrians, together we can ensure our campus remains a safe environment for everyone."