UNA officials want to make campus crosswalks safer

by Staff Writer John Ed Dearman

As school and the holiday season brings more traffic, it is important to remember traffic safety around campus.

The Student Government Association seeks to make the crosswalks on campus safer for student and pedestrian use. President Nick Lang said SGA, along with the university and Florence city officials, is discussing ways to make the crosswalks safer.

Lang said two crosswalks on campus pose student safety concerns: the one on Wood Avenue next to the Student Publications building and the one on Pine Street next to the Outdoor Adventure Center.

“The crosswalk on Wood, I think, works very effectively,” he said. “The flashing lights that tell drivers to stop work well. However, I do think that it is very important to find a way to make the lights even more visible.”

The police department has researched ways to make the Wood Avenue crossing safer, said Chief of Police Kevin Gillilan.

“There’s not a whole lot you can do to that one,” Gillilan said. “It’s designed as well as it can be. It’s got pretty much all the bells and whistles that it can have.”

Junior Ashley York said she has a problem with the crosswalk on Wood Avenue.

“I’ll press the button to cross, and the lights flash up,” York said. “I suppose the cars don’t see the lights because they just don’t stop. Maybe if the lights were brighter, the drivers would be able to see them.”

There have not yet been any accidents on the Wood Avenue crosswalk, Gillilan said.

“It is the crosswalk on Pine that we are really concerned about because we’ve already had a couple of students get hit at that one,” Lang said.

Gillilan said the Police Department is discussing setting up a safety mechanism at the crosswalk.

“We are currently looking at getting a button students can press that will cause every light at that intersection to turn red,” he said. “We also want to have flashing light signals like the one we already have on Wood.”

Lang said SGA is also discussing adapting the crosswalks for the disabled. These adaptations include a beeping mechanism that notifies blind pedestrians when they can cross the road.

“We want to make sure that every student can utilize those crosswalks effectively,” Lang said.

Although these safety changes and are beneficial and increase crosswalk safety, Gillilan said pedestrian inattention causes most of the crosswalk issues.

“They are crossing the road while text messaging, and they’re not aware of their surroundings,” he said. “The problem is that they start crossing as soon as they hit the button and depend on the cars to stop,” Gillilan said. “You just can’t assume that that’s what they’re going to do.”

He said it is important for students to look both ways before crossing even when do they push the button to turn on the lights.

If crossing at night, he said students should wear bright clothes to make themselves more visible to drivers.

Senior Taylor Hayes said he has a concern with the crosswalk on Pine.

“Whenever I cross one of them, I always have to sprint across” he said. “All the cars come flying through there, and they just don’t seem to slow down.”

Sophomore Will Bishop said he had a near-miss with a car while walking on the crosswalk.

“I walk across the crosswalk almost every day, and one time I almost got hit while I was crossing the one on Pine Street,” he said. “I know from my own experience how much of a safety concern they are.”