Alternative strategies needed to prevent further accidents on Cascade
October 11, 2017
A pedestrian was hit by a car on campus last Friday crossing at the corner of 4th and Cascade Ave. The female student was on a bike, and was hit by a passing vehicle while riding through the crosswalk.
This is not the first time a student has been hit on that particular crosswalk. Traffic between North Hall and the rest of campus is heavy, particularly between classes on the hour, and it can be difficult for drivers to make their way down Cascade Avenue with packs of students constantly crossing the street. It is also exceedingly difficult for drivers to see when students cross, particularly if the student is on a bike and moving quickly.
A large part of the problem is the way the crosswalk is set up. The flashing lights that indicate when a pedestrian is crossing are not reliable, sometimes going off when no one is present or belatedly when someone is attempting to cross. The grass that grows along the median also causes a safety hazard because it inhibits clear vision for drivers and pedestrians alike.
Dale Braun, the campus planner, has said in the past that the reason behind the grass is to prevent jaywalkers from crossing at random points along Cascade. It is also meant to force drivers to slow down by making them uncertain when traveling down the street. However, we at the Student Voice believe that this strategy has proved ineffective.
Careless drivers will speed whether they can see pedestrians or not. However, if they were to catch sight of an oncoming pedestrian out of the corner of their eye, there is a better chance that they would slam on the brakes in time. The grass tends to block this sort of peripheral vision, and further encourages speeding without regard for people who are not visible.
There are a variety of potential solutions that could be employed to fix this problem. Cutting the grass twenty or thirty feet on either side of the crosswalk is one initial and very easy solution. It would improve visibility while also still discouraging jaywalkers anywhere else along Cascade.
Another strategy would be to employ student workers as crossing guards at the busiest corner near North Hall. They could either remind distracted students to watch for traffic or they could alert drivers to oncoming groups of pedestrians. A similar solution would be to install a light that occasionally signals pedestrians to stop so that cars can make their way through during peak travel times.
On the more extreme end of the spectrum, solutions could include a pedestrian walkway that either runs underground in a tunnel or overhead on a bridge across the North Hall crosswalk. Adding different species of plants that are lower but still unpleasant to cross through could similarly hinder jaywalking along the road.
While the accident this past week caused only minor damage, we as a campus community should look for solutions that can eliminate the danger of more serious injuries. Serious accidents have happened in the past, and will continue to happen until alternative strategies are implemented.