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Lack of crosswalks causes concern

March 29, 2007

Harsh winter weather and the ongoing lack of parking at UW-River Falls makes getting across Cascade Avenue safely to class a rising concern among students.

According to students and faculty, Cascade Avenue is a busy street and the city of River Falls needs to take into account that there needs to be more crosswalks so they feel secure when hurrying to classes.

Some students want to see more effort put into the safety of crossing Cascade and also because this past winter has proven to be more dangerous.

“I don’t really feel safe because it’s icy,” senior Brittany Eichten said. “I cross between North Hall and KFA everyday.”

The crosswalk located between North Hall and Davee Library has disappeared, leaving students crossing the street at any unmarked location.

“There is an importance to identifying the crosswalk again,” Director of Public Safety Dick Trende said.

“These are issues we need to look at as both a University and a city.”

Legally, people should be using a crosswalk and it should give them a sense of being safe, Trende said.

There should not only be more crosswalks, but a better way to mark them for drivers, he said.

Some suggestions that could make pedestrians more noticeable would be to not only repaint the faded crosswalk located between North Hall and the library, but also have signs that warn drivers to slow down.

Also, florescent paints and overhead lights located at all of the crossing points will increase visibility for drivers, especially when it gets dark outside.

One reason we don’t have enough crosswalks on Cascade could be because if you increase the number of crosswalks it would reduce the number of parking spots that many students and faculty depend on, Trende said.

Shell Maccoux is a senior at UWRF researching the safety of crossing Cascade Avenue for her project in the speech course entitled Persuasion (Speech Communication and Theatre Arts 311).

“Campaign Cascade” is the name of the group project with the purpose to “raise awareness of drivers of the State laws which require individuals to yield to pedestrians in designated areas with the focus being on Cascade Avenue between North and South Halls.”

“I almost got hit once and I’ve almost hit other people,” Maccoux said. “Students cross in between North and South Halls because they aren’t using the crosswalks.”

There is an online questionnaire available designed to see how much students know about the laws and how safe they feel crossing Cascade, Maccoux said.

On the other hand, there are reasons why we don’t have as many pedestrian crosswalks and overhead lights.

We have to operate within the financial perimeters of the city,” River Falls Police Chief Roger Leque said. “I’m comfortable with the safety of Cascade or it would be a major concern for us.”

There is also concern among students because there is no crosswalk in certain areas where there ought to be.

“They should put a crosswalk over by Karges because many students park on the side streets and live in the dorms,” sophomore Kristin Rotter said. “Cars won’t stop for you if they don’t have to. There needs to be signs or more crosswalks so drivers will pay attention.”

Others feel they don’t have problems getting to class even if they have to endure the traffic as long as it is during a busy time of day.

“I still feel fairly safe if there is a bunch of people around,” freshman Maya Meinhold said. “If it is just me, then I get worried that the cars won’t stop.”

According to River Falls Police, there haven’t been any major concerns or issues regarding the safety of crossing Cascade Avenue, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be measures taken to prevent them from happening in the future.

To demonstrate knowledge of state laws regarding pedestrians and to share how safe it is to cross Cascade Avenue, students, faculty and staff are invited to fill out the questionnaire at www.dabootski.com/cascade.