Crosswalk signals adjusted: UNIV 100 class makes timely request
The crosswalk signals along W. St. Mary Boulevard on campus have been extended by six seconds due to efforts by a group of students in UNIV 100.
The students — Kirstin Fuhrman, Victoria Genusa, Morgan Harrington, Taylor Harris and Gabriella Herpin — did a research project to examine the safety of the crosswalks. They found not all students were able to cross W. St. Mary Boulevard in the time allotted. The group contacted both the university and Lafayette Consolidated Government with their concerns. LCG responded within four days saying they had adjusted the signals.
“I thought it was going to be a really long process,” Christie Maloyed, Ph.D., the students’ teacher, said.
Maloyed said she was surprised the students were able to get something changed. She thought the best-case scenario would be that they raised some awareness about the safety concern.
“The city responded amazingly quickly,” Maloyed said.
She said the students contacted local government on a Thursday or Friday and received a response that the signals had been extended on the following Tuesday.
The email sent to LCG was addressed to Joey Durel’s office. The email sent to the university was originally addressed to the Office of Transportation but was forwarded to Joseph Pons, the associate director of public safety.
Pons said he was impressed that freshmen were taking an active role in campus safety.
“(I was impressed) that they were intuitive enough to look at something that is imperatively dangerous,” Pons said.
Pons said he believed the students’ concern was legitimate and met with them to discuss the problem. He wanted to talk to the class about the rationale behind the signal timings.
LCG is in charge of maintaining the roads and infrastructure in Lafayette, which includes the traffic signals on campus. Ultimately, it is their job to decide whether signals will be adjusted.
Pons said that signal timing is not the only factor making it difficult for students to cross the street on time.
Some things Pons said he noticed in particular is “distracted walking.” He said students looking down at their cell phones are not paying attention to where they are walking or traffic signals. He also stressed misuse of the bike lanes and walking bicycles across the street as safety hazards.
“Let’s be real: if we’re going to try to do some things that we can really make a difference on, I think we need to take a look at all the possibilities,” Pons said.
Maloyed said her students recognized these problems but didn’t think it was the main cause of the issue.
Pons said he yields to the city transportation department and if changing the cycles isn’t having any effects, then it’s a “win-win.”
“I think overall it really was a good experience … not just for that particular group but for the class as a whole,” Maloyed said.