Students concerned about crosswalks, lack thereof near campus

As students express concern about sprinting across streets without accessible crosswalks, Campus Planning said pedestrian movement will be addressed in its new master plan.

Pedestrians+jaywalk+across+Clinton+St.+in+front+of+Burge+residence+hall+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+3%2C+2019.+The+lack+of+marked+crosswalks+on+this+street+prevents+pedestrians+from+crossing+in+an+orderly+manner.
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Students concerned about crosswalks, lack thereof near campus

Pedestrians jaywalk across Clinton St. in front of Burge residence hall on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The lack of marked crosswalks on this street prevents pedestrians from crossing in an orderly manner.

Pedestrians jaywalk across Clinton St. in front of Burge residence hall on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The lack of marked crosswalks on this street prevents pedestrians from crossing in an orderly manner.

David Harmantas

Pedestrians jaywalk across Clinton St. in front of Burge residence hall on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The lack of marked crosswalks on this street prevents pedestrians from crossing in an orderly manner.

David Harmantas

David Harmantas

Pedestrians jaywalk across Clinton St. in front of Burge residence hall on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019. The lack of marked crosswalks on this street prevents pedestrians from crossing in an orderly manner.

Katie Ann McCarver, News Reporter

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From elementary school onward, students are methodically trained in how to cross the street: Wait for the light, look left, look right, and cross in the crosswalk. However, they are rarely taught what to do when there is no signal and no crosswalk to cross.

As University of Iowa students express concern about a shortage of crosswalks near campus, an issue they feel forces them to sprint across streets while trying to avoid collision with cars or Cambus, UI Campus Planning says pedestrian movement will be addressed in its latest master plan.

“We prepare long-range systems, and walkways are a part of that,” UI Campus Planning Director Joe Bilotta said. “We’re teaming up with a landscape architect to address and identify short-term needs and long-term needs relative to all modes of transportation.”

Over the next year, he said, his office intends to confer with UI students, as well as faculty and staff, to understand their areas of concern and improve accessibility issues on the streets.

“We can only control what’s on our side of the property, so we work directly with the city to improve any issues we may have,” Bilotta said. “Where crosswalks are is part of the challenge, especially in an urban environment like ours.”

The latter requires a partnership with UI Parking & Transportation in addition to the city, Bilotta said, because bus stops, shelters, and other items must be strategically located along a street.

“There are certain issues where we have to abide by certain regulations we don’t have control over, and we can just bring concern to the city,” Bilotta said. “We have a lot challenges on campus, and as we work with the city, we’ll identify those hot spots we need to address.”

There are certain issues where we have to abide by certain regulations we don’t have control over, and we can just bring concern to the city. We have a lot challenges on campus, and as we work with the city, we’ll identify those hot spots we need to address.”

— Joe Bilotta

Hot spots for UI students seem to include Clinton Street outside Burge Hall, where the nearest place to cross the street from the residence hall is in the opposite direction of the bus stop. 

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“Typically, you don’t see any mid-block crosswalks. They’re extremely dangerous,” Bilotta said. “In some cases, they’re against the law unless you signalize them.”

He noted that Clinton Street is not in the UI’s domain, and an example of one of the many areas Campus Planning must partner with its city counterparts.

UI student and Mayflower resident Samantha Anderson said crossing the street to reach the bus that will take her back to her dorm is always a little dicey.

“You can’t get to a lot of the bus stops unless you want to book it across the road,” she said. “You get used to it after a while, making sure no cars are coming.”

In regard to Clinton Street, Anderson said, the nearest crosswalk is at the intersection by Pappajohn Business Building, and Bilotta noted the city controls the steets at each intersection.

With the recent frigid temperatures, Anderson said, it has become even more inconvenient to half-walk, half-jog across the street to catch the bus or attend a class.

A similar problem presents itself daily to UI student and West Side resident Madison Bruggeman, who said she sprints across the street on her walk to school at least twice every morning.

“I’m scared to cross the street. I don’t want to get hit by a car,” she said. “Adding a crosswalk would be so simple.” 

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