By LAUREN STAPLETON
Every day students drive, bike, walk and skate their way through Richmond to attend the classes they’ve paid for. All of these different types of commuters interact with each other constantly. Bicycles mingle with cars, which yield to walkers, who move for skaters.
Unfortunately, these constant interactions can result in collisions, the worst of these being between cars and the other commuters.
This is a result of limited space, as very few streets in Richmond have bicycle lanes despite a growing number of bicycle commuters. Jaywalking also causes accidents, as students dash to class. I cross the Barnes Mill and Lancaster intersection on my walk to class and roughly three out of five times I watch a car run a red light.
The four most problematic intersections seem to be Barnes Mill Road at Lancaster Ave., the Bypass at Lancaster, the Bypass at Kit Carson Drive and Kit Carson Drive at John Hanlon Drive, near the Campus Recreation Center. These are the intersections where pedestrians encounter non-campus drivers and where drivers gain speed and forget that they are near a college campus. Drivers traveling on campus are required by law to stop for pedestrians on crosswalks and often encounter pedestrians jaywalking to get to class. Drivers in these areas are on their toes and prepared for an encounter.
I asked several students for stories involving vehicles on campus. One student described a recent experience on Sept. 3. He and four other students were waiting to cross Kit Carson at John Hanlon when a silver Celica sped through the light, seconds after it had turned red. He threw out his arm to stop anyone else from stepping, nearly being hit by the car. Another student expressed her fear of being hit by a vehicle while biking on campus. She said people are always speeding and don’t make room for cyclists.
A solution would be to build footbridges over all the intersections, but this would be costly and require construction all over campus. Awareness campaigns would be nice, but not necessarily effective. I believe that the most effective solution for these issues would be the widening of roads to allow for bike lanes and the installation of red-light cameras. The lane widening would be a long-term solution for a later date, but the red-light cameras could be installed immediately.
Richmond and EKU Police cannot be everywhere at once, but cameras ensure that some of the most dangerous intersections students encounter would be under surveillance. The cameras would monitor intersections constantly and be hooked to traffic signals. If and when a vehicle crosses over the crosswalk, the camera would snap a series of photos. After a review of the photos, a ticket is mailed to the offender.
Many GPS systems like Waze and TomTom have options that warn drivers when they are approaching an intersection with cameras, putting drivers back on their toes. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that after installing traffic cameras, intersections saw a 40-50% decrease in red-light violations. Furthermore, a study by the IIHS in Philadelphia found that lengthening the yellow signal by one second reduced crashes by 12%, and the introduction of red-light cameras reduced it again by 96%.
Eastern needs safer intersections on and around campus. Red-light cameras would certainly be the least expensive option and would likely pay for themselves within a year. Many cities have reported that their ability to catch other violations increased as well, as many red-light offenders were guilty of other auto-related crimes. Using the cameras would deter future violations and encourage safer driving around campus. Students, both on and off campus have paid to attend a University that should take every precaution to ensure their safety.