Why does it take me 20 minutes to get to class once I enter
campus whether I bike, walk or drive? Why do people scatter across
crosswalks in herds of 50, bike through stop signs or fail to obey
stop signs? Simple answer…the traffic setup on campus sucks.
I was somewhere around the stop sign at Meridian Avenue and
South Drive last week, in my car, waiting for the herd of walkers
to have some semblance of a space big enough for my car to fit
through, for the bikers to decide whether they are on the road, the
sidewalk, or just kamikazes, and for the other cars at the four-way
stop to either plow through the intersection or figure out who had
the right of way. And the rage sweltered inside of me.
No one knows how to follow traffic rules on campus (or,
arguably, anywhere really). Are bikers supposed to be treated as
cars? If so, why are they allowed to ride on sidewalks on some
parts of campus? Why do some parts of campus have bike lanes while
other parts force them to merge with unwilling cars on the road?
How many pedestrians should cross the streets at once? Why do so
many people insist on crossing where there are no crosswalks? Why
is there only one way for cars to access the main part of
Irritation runs high between classes. People cross the street in
groups, which is fine, but then three more people who were 50 feet
away when the group started crossing as well, which makes me want
to hit them with my car! Bikers don’t dismount their bikes on the
plaza, and shoot through stop signs at intersections. Cars don’t
stop at stop signs, and cut each other off in the hopes of making
it to class ten seconds sooner than they would if they followed the
right of way rules. There were times I have been almost hit by a
bike or car on my way to class. Cars also randomly stop around
campus to drop people off, causing a traffic jam and making it
confusing to know whether you can go around them or not.
I’m not going to lay blame on any one type of transportation –
pedestrians, bikes, or cars, because I’ve done all three at CSU and
everyone is equally to blame, myself included. But I think there is
a solution to the traffic problems on campus.
Perhaps you’ve noticed them on your worldly travels. They are a
box on top of a thin pole. The box contains two symbols – a red
hand, symbolizing stop, and a white person, symbolizing walk. These
things, called crosswalk signals, work in conjunction with another
mechanical/electrical device – this other one is a smaller box,
painted yellow and attached to a thick wire. It has three circles
that light up in a specified pattern of green, yellow and red. Some
people like to call it a traffic light. You may have encountered
these exotic pieces of ingenuity everywhere else in town, but
probably not on campus. Why do these things exist everywhere around
town except on campus, where they are most needed?
When the designers of the university originally built the roads,
they probably couldn’t conceive the idea of cars. And when cars did
come around, stop signs were probably enough to control traffic
flow. But sadly, everyone is an idiot at one point when they are on
a bike, behind the wheel of a car, or given a crosswalk. I don’t
think making CSU a pedestrian campus would solve the problem
because there isn’t nearly enough housing on campus to satisfy the
number of students we have here. People need to be able to drive to
campus and park in semi-convenient locations. I don’t think more
crosswalks are the answer either – making cars stop every ten feet
while people cross (hoping to some higher power that the driver
remembers they have to stop) seems more like playing Russian
roulette than a solution.
Not to bring up that still sore subject of the other big college
town in Colorado, but Boulder uses a very effective traffic-flow
control on Pearl Street. Wide crosswalks are paired with timed
traffic lights. Every red light gives people 30 to 40 seconds to
cross the road. Traffic is controlled effectively because
pedestrians and bikers aren’t forced to fight against cars, and
when the light is green but no cars are around, pedestrians and
bikers can still cross with relative safety. I think we need three
traffic lights on campus with crosswalk signs, one at each major
intersection of Meridian. Yes, there will still be traffic backups
around 5 p.m. Yes, I know that traffic lights and timed crosswalk
signals are expensive. But isn’t the peace that would come out of
it well worth the expense? Write people big tickets when they break
the rules to help cover the cost. Enforce the rules.
Please, powers that be at CSU, do something, anything, so I can
get to class on time without killing anyone!