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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: 2nd street traffic is a disservice to drivers and pedestrians alike

Every school day, between an hour’s 50th minute and its final one, the crosswalks on Second Street are flooded with students. As a driver, if you happen to be caught between the Harvill building and the intersection at Mountain Avenue and Second Street, then you might as well give up on being on time to any appointments you are trying to make, because you’re going to be stuck there for a while.

There have been times when I have been caught in that 700 feet of agony for six to eight minutes. You can’t move forward into the stream of students, and you can’t move backwards into the traffic behind you. The experience is memorable and frustrating as a driver, knowing that students must be given the right of way. Even when the student stream is temporarily a trickle, you’re forced to watch as eight students keep you from driving through a gap that you had been literally sitting at the edge of your seat for.

Some drivers get to the point where they can’t stand it any longer. I’ve watched Mustangs and Silverados biblically push their way through the river of students, daring the cross walkers to keep walking, basically threatening to hit them. One of the worst parts about witnessing this dangerous and frustrating chaos is the knowledge that these kinds of problems have been attacked and solved with the invention of the pedestrian crosswalk signal system, yet here they persist.

Two sets of pedestrian signal lights at Second Street would allow vehicles to pass through the street without causing any significant time delay to students. We know the time delay to students is not significant because there are a set of pedestrian signals at the intersection of Second Street and Mountain Avenue that students have been using for years to get to and from classes. Now, although this system is not perfect—the inability of cars heading south on Mountain Avenue to turn left or right onto Second Street—its deficiencies do not arise from the miniscule amount of time that students lose waiting to cross. I have used that crosswalk and others like it to get to class, and have never had a problem.

The signal crosswalk creates a practical system. As cars drive through Second Street, students begin to crowd the crosswalks, then are finally given the signal to walk,and move across. This creates gaps in the stream and allows vehicles to pass through the street.

This system would help avoid the frustrating situation that drivers currently face and would decrease, if not eliminate, the dangers of frustrated drivers forcing their way through students attempting to cross the crosswalk.

For the most part, these drivers are students; young, impatient, attention deficient, emotionally-charged, rule-bending students. At the other end of the stick, those crossing the crosswalk are also students: Instagramming, Facebooking, text-messaging students who have mastered the art of being able to walk to class without looking away from their phone once. However, dodging walls and buildings is much easier than dodging cars with fed-up drivers at the wheel.

Students using the crosswalk during less busy times of the day are in even greater need because of the increased speed at which vehicles are moving on Second Street. With so many students now living at The Hub, Next, Level, and soon Hub II, more students are using Second Street as they leave campus to head home. That means more students are crossing Second Street at night, and more students are in danger of not being seen by drivers—many of them students—and potentially being injured.

Let’s end the chaos outside of the Harvill building, and make Second Street safer for pedestrians by adding signal lights.

Follow Wyatt Conoly on Twitter.

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