The UConn Police Department has expanded its enforcement area and wants to bring awareness to UConn’s pedestrians and drivers as part of its annual pedestrian safety initiative.
“This is a very pedestrian‐friendly campus,” said UConn Deputy Chief of Police Hans Rhynhart, “We want to create an educational blitz so people understand awareness.”
The Storrs campus has a high concentration of pedestrians. Over 12,000 students are dispersed over the campus’ roughly 4,000 acres.
Awareness of surroundings should be a priority for both pedestrians and drivers, Rhynhart said.
The purpose of the program, he said, is to get drivers to slow down in the heavily concentrated areas, as well as to make pedestrians more aware of traffic dangers.
“A lot of the time they [pedestrians] may have the right of way in a crosswalk, but if a car doesn’t see them and they get hit, at that point who really cares?” Rhynhart said. “We don’t want somebody getting injured.”
Similar programs are currently implemented in Southern Connecticut State University and Western Connecticut State University. SCUS’s program, Operation S.A.F.E. (Safety Awareness for Everyone), has 18 Pedestrian Safety Tips.
UCPD has a pedestrian safety initiative annually. This year in particular they are working with the town of Mansfield.
“A lot of their traffic in the morning is coming into UConn,” Rhynhart said, “That has a big impact on how the town of Mansfield operates, hence we’ve expanded our area of coverage to a lot of areas that aren’t historically on campus.”
UCPD is also working with Parking Services to raise awareness of laws and regulations regarding scooters.
“They are an efficient means of travel but they do have to follow the rules of the road,” Rhynhart said, “Parking Services has done some outreach to ensure that they are parking properly and to make sure that they are not storing gasoline in buildings.
Regarding pedestrian safety, students generally seem to agree that awareness is essential.
“It’s different being a pedestrian from being a driver,” said Chris Raymond, fifth-semester human rights and management double major, “It can be harrowing as a driver. There are so many pedestrians and they don’t always abide by the rules. I have to be constantly vigilant.”
“Maybe people in the city just have more road rage,” Keith Grrant, first semester molecular and cellular biology major. “Cars here will wait in line. If there are 100 people walking they’ll let 100 people go.”
Students seem to similarly agree that there is room for improvement when it comes to UConn pedestrians’ awareness.
“Sometimes I see people walk right into the road without even checking for oncoming traffic,” said seventh-semester English major Micaela Sumner, “I’ve seen people back into crosswalks.”
“It could be better. It could be a lot better,” said Shane Watterson, fifth semester English major, “I think a lot of students are bad pedestrians.”
The pedestrian safety initiative seeks to resolve these through education and by prioritizing safety.
“It’s something that we’ve done in years past,” Rhynhart said, “Our ultimate goal is to keep people safe.”
Christopher McDermott is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.