In the past months, UConn has seen many changes, most notably the increase of construction fencing blocking off what used to be well-traveled sidewalks. While the community is becoming accustomed to the change in traffic, there are concerns about safety that must be addressed.
In a recent article published by The Daily Campus, UConn Police Deputy Chief Andrew Fournier highlighted safety concerns he had regarding pedestrian traffic and gave some tips on how to avoid accidents (http://dailycampus.com/stories/2017/9/14/uconn-police-talk-about-staying-safe-as-a-pedestrian-on-campus). Suggestions ranged from unplugging the earbuds to making eye contact with drivers prior to entering the crosswalk. Most of the concern from Chief Fournier was in regards to North Eagleville, which has seen the largest change to traffic pattern.
This, however, is not the most unsafe part of campus. By and large, North Eagleville is safer now than it used to be. Down to one lane, pedestrians only have eastbound cars to worry about and as there are stop signs at almost every major crossing, cars are forced to stop regardless. That, in addition to the police vehicle often stationed by TLS and the fact that any driver who can avoid North Eagleville, will avoid North Eagleville, means pedestrians are relatively safe from traffic.
The more problematic area of campus is the south end which has seen more aesthetic changes. While pleasing to the eye, replacing standard crosswalks with painted paw prints does little to warn drivers that they are approaching a crosswalk. The intersection separating South, Alumni and West, which used to be a giant square of striped lines, is now just a white perimeter. Many cars speed through this intersection, not even knowing it is a crossing.
Even this is not the worst intersection though. The crossing out of West going toward the Bookstore is by far the most dangerous crosswalk on campus. With the advent of construction and the elimination of the eastside sidewalk, the construction fencing juts out into the road in a manner that creates a blind intersection for both pedestrians and southbound traffic.
Leaving West, a pedestrian wishing to cross the street can only see northbound traffic and in order to view southbound traffic, one must enter the road and walk a fair bit toward the other side. By the time a pedestrian has the opportunity to see oncoming traffic, the car is either too close to stop or must slam on its brakes in order to avoid the pedestrian.
While a lowering the speed limit on such roads might increase safety, the fact that many crosswalks are now either non-existent, poorly defined or simply blind is unacceptable to both students and drivers and makes for a dangerous commute to class.
David Csordas is a staff columnist for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.