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Crosswalk danger worries students

By Magdalene Michalik (Staff Writer) IMG_6997(1)

During the time span of half an hour on Monday, 14 drivers failed to follow the stop sign on California Avenue between Weller Hall and CV Starr. Eight additional drivers merely completed a rolling stop.

The problem is that this is a frequently used crosswalk on the University’s campus and students are raising concerns.

“Multiple times I have almost been hit by cars coming down California Avenue,” said Daniella Krohn, senior music education major in an email. “One instance was actually two weeks ago. Luckily, I heard them screeching around the corner or I wouldn’t be alive right now.”

Students feel that the stop sign is worthless and would like to see more safety measures, such as speed bumps or an installed walking signal.

“I feel as though the stop sign has no significance,” Krohn said. “Drivers tend to ignore it if no one seems to be near the crosswalk or they try to force their way through pedestrians because there are a lot of pedestrians crossing and they don’t feel like waiting. People tend to speed down the road because they’re trying to make the light.”

However, pedestrians need to remember that not paying attention while walking is equally as dangerous as being distracted while operating a vehicle.

“Granted, there are pedestrians that don’t pay attention to oncoming cars and they just walk out hoping that the car will stop,” Krohn said.

Last year, the University Senate Planning and Budget Committee lobbied for a traffic light to be installed on California Avenue when the Senate passed a resolution for a traffic study to be conducted.

“The intent was to either have the appropriate local authority install a traffic light or some other means to better insure pedestrian’s safety in the crosswalk,” said Victor Lopez, chair of the senate planning and budget committee.

“The director of Public Safety then spoke to the town of Hempstead and the village of Hempstead authorities since both share responsibility for Hempstead Avenue and the preliminary result reportedly is that they were not receptive to installing a traffic light…” said Lopez.

The reason is that there is no precedent to install a traffic light in an area where two streets do not intersect, according to Lopez.

The crosswalk at California Avenue isn’t the only place where safety is an issue.

“It’s all over campus,” said Jennifer Bull, junior fine arts education major. “People think that stop signs and rules of the road don’t apply just because it’s campus. People will blow through the stop signs by the Student Center, people will go through everything, especially by CV Starr.”

California Avenue is perpendicular to Hempstead Turnpike, which was named by the Tri-borough State Campaign as the most dangerous roadway for walking over for the fourth year in a row. Although Public Safety can’t control Hempstead Turnpike because it is off campus, it is doing as much as it can about pedestrian safety on campus.

“There are crosswalks marked off throughout the campus with stop signs and speed bumps,” said John O’Malley, Public Safety’s associate director of operations.

Public Safety did not have information as to when the last time there was an accident on California Avenue or how many driving related tickets were issued within the past year. Anita Ellis, director of Off-Campus Living and Commuting Student Services, provides programs to commuters and residents throughout the year to raise awareness about safety. Public Safety officers also speak at some of these programs.

“In all programs that I have, I take the time to talk about safety in how the students drive and walk,” said Ellis. “Texting and walking or walking with loud music playing in headphones is just as dangerous because you can’t hear or pay attention to your surroundings.”

Ellis also provides literature in her office about safety, which she encourages students to read.

Nassau County Police enforces driving rules as well, where numerous tickets have been issued at the stop sign at California Avenue, according to O’Malley.

“A lot of students have to cross there and it’s just too dangerous,” Khron said.

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