Staff Editorial: Pedestrian Safety

On October 7th, at 9:30 p.m., a Lawrence student was struck at the intersection of College Avenue and Lawe Street in the second hit-and-run incident of the past year. Pedestrian safety is once again a major concern for members of the Lawrence community. In the past, the responsibility of exercising pedestrian safety has been partially placed on students, but as investigations into recent accidents and near-misses have made clear, reckless drivers are at fault. Thus, Lawrence must look to the the Appleton Police Department and the City of Appleton for assistance in keeping our students safe.

The Lawrence administration believes that  the City of Appleton’s design of this intersection is, in part, to blame for its poor performance in terms of pedestrian safety and is demanding meaningful, visible changes from the City of Appleton at that particular intersection as quickly as possible. The City of Appleton agrees and after speaking with the Lawrence administration intends to upgrade lighting, crosswalk painting, and the location of the crosswalks themselves in relation to the actual corners for the north-south crosswalks.

In addition to communicating with the City of Appleton, Lawrence is making its own changes to protect students from dangerous and negligent drivers. Over the summer, Lawrence ordered a new button-activated lighting system to be placed at the College Avenue crosswalks that will reduce false activations and down-time related to maintenance. This system is expected to be installed before the end of Fall Term. In addition, Lawrence plans to improve overhead lighting near the crosswalks to better illuminate students crossing the street at night.

Jake Woodford, Assistant to the President, gave the following statement. “In many cases, whether in accidents or near misses, pedestrians have been using the appropriate crosswalks and crossing with the traffic signal in their favor. Put simply, the most recent accident was in no way the fault of the pedestrian. Unfortunately, there are some drivers who do not follow the law and, as we have probably all experienced, there are routinely violations of pedestrian right-of-way. In addition to joining the Lawrence administration in advocating for improvements to the design of dangerous intersections and crossings, we all need to be extra vigilant when crossing any street.”

Finally, being safe at intersections and crossings in Appleton and along College Avenue is the responsibility of students and pedestrians. The reality of being a pedestrian navigating traffic is that it requires caution and attentiveness. Students should always practice safe pedestrian habits: put cell-phones away, take headphones off, look both ways before crossing, verify that vehicles are coming to a stop and be efficient and alert when crossing.

In conjunction with the City of Appleton, safety interventions such as upgraded lighting and crosswalks will be implemented to better ensure road safety. Although recent hit-and-run incidents are by no means the fault of pedestrians, we encourage Lawrence students to be cautious at major intersections around campus. Two students being struck by reckless drivers is more than enough for one year. Stay safe when crossing the roads, especially College Avenue.