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Pedestrians, drivers are focus of campus safety

Additional lighting outside the Lecture Hall and a railing along the rear steps of the Couper Administration Building are two safety projects that will be conducted based on recommendations from the University’s Personal Safety Advisory Committee.

Work to install the hand rail began Tuesday, Dec. 9, and is expected to take two to three weeks to complete. Physical Facilities plans to begin the Lecture Hall project next summer, installing the lighting on the south side of the building and replacing a blacktop walkway with concrete.

The committee made the recommendations following a “campus by night” tour in late October. Committee chair Anthony Preus, a professor of philosophy, noted that the area has a large entrance that often features evening events in LH-1 and LH-8.

“Right now, it doesn’t look like the entrance to anything,” Preus said. “It’s pretty dark over there. I wouldn’t say it’s dark enough to be dangerous, but it’s dark. … The committee feels that (campus) lighting, on the whole, is very good.”

The group takes a tour in the fall and spring after receiving safety suggestions from the campus community. A yearly report is then issued based on the tours and other meetings. The main concern of students who make suggestions is usually the safety of the routes they walk, Preus said, while faculty, staff and others tend to examine things from a driver’s point of view.

Preus and Timothy Faughnan, deputy chief of University Police, agreed that pedestrian and driver safety and interaction continue to be focal points for the University.

Faughnan said the four voluntary speed compliance devices on campus that display vehicle speed continue to be effective. The signs remind drivers that the campus speed limit is “5 mph lower than most places,” he said.

“I notice them all the time and I’m driving these roads every day,” Faughnan said. “They still jump out at me. So I’ve got to believe that’s true for everyone. … It was another step we took to improve pedestrian safety and overall campus safety.”

Advances in technology also have affected campus safety in a negative way, Faughnan said, as more pedestrians and drivers are using cell phones and iPods even at night or when there is reduced visibility.

“What has happened in the last 15 years is an additional level of distraction,” he said.

Many students, Faughnan said, do not realize that pedestrians are not supposed to step into a crosswalk until it is safe. Vehicles must then yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

“When you’re crossing the street, let’s think back to kindergarten when we learned to look both ways,” he said. “The basic rules of pedestrian safety apply on campus as well. You have a responsibility to cross when it is safe to do so. Once you’re in the crosswalk, you are protected by law.”

Preus pointed to the traffic circle as an area of pedestrian concern, as drivers often will be looking for other vehicles merging in and out of the circle instead of people crossing the roads.

Faughnan and Preus both emphasized the importance of educational programs in residence halls on subjects such as general personal safety, self-defense and property safety.

“It’s never-ending,” Preus said. “There’s no question about it. It’s not just once and then you’re done with it.”

Preus also said the advisory committee is examining off-campus safety issues such as alcohol-related parties and overcrowded taxis.

For Faughnan, campus safety is a “shared responsibility.”

“We try to get across the message that we’re your partners,” he said. “We’re going to help you any way we can, but we want you to be our partner too. That’s how we promote a safe community.”

Campus safety work

Other recent safety-related work by Physical Facilities includes:

• The black-topping of walkways in residential complex areas to reduce tripping hazards.

• Installation of pedestrian barriers to discourage short-cut pedestrian travel via the “otter slide” (a hill from the paid parking lot to the main campus loop road) and another unsafe/unpaved path from Mountainview down to the paid lot.

• The re-marking of roads and crosswalks with reflective paint.

• Increased lighting in some crosswalk areas.

• A blue light phone added behind the East Gym.


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Last Updated: 10/14/08