Inattention and digital technology have made certain campus traffic crossings a concern for cyclists, pedestrians and police.
University and CU Police Department officials sent a joint e-mail to students in October urging them to be more cautious around the crosswalks at Euclid and Broadway and Fiske Planetarium. The issue arose after some students complained about near accidents. CU Alternative Transportation Manager David Cook coauthored the e-mail.
“It’s hard not to notice it,” Cook said. “If people talk about it, then maybe there will be a little more awareness. If one student hears someone else saying they’re concerned about it, maybe that sticks the next time they’re out.”
Cook does not blame one form of traveler.
“You can’t really say it’s the car drivers or bicycle riders,” Cook said. “It goes both ways.”
Cook, depending on the day, will drive, walk or ride a bike to campus. The alternating patterns of travel alerted Cook to different transportation perspectives.
“That’s another thing I suppose that helps with awareness. It opens your eyes if you trade places,” Cook said. “If you never drive, you don’t see things from a driver’s perspective. If you always drive, then it’s harder to see things from a bicycler’s perspective. If you go through those intersections on a bike, it looks different than if you go through there with a car.”
Cook said all people must pay attention to their surroundings when crossing, particularly at the trouble spots.
“Those areas are so busy,” Cook said. “You really have to have your wits about you.”
CUPD Parking and Transportation Services Director Casey Jones said he wants people to think about the wellbeing of themselves and others.
“The concept of the campaign is that courtesy is contagious,” Jones said. “What we’re asking everyone to do, not just students, whether you’re on a bicycle or whether you are walking or driving, is to care for the other people around you and be safe so you won’t find yourself in a situation where you might get hurt or someone else might get hurt.”
The issue is a recurring one at the University of Colorado. Jones said the problem troubles a variety of people around campus.
“It was observations from folks around campus,” Jones said. “Students, faculty, staff. Everyone saying, ‘Well, geez, I was in a near-miss here and that concerns me.’ We don’t want to wait till there is a rash of accidents for us to get the message out and ask people to play their part.”
Jones has some recommendations for travelers.
“I would encourage people to not talk on their cell phone if they’re walking, biking or driving,” Jones said. “We see a lot of folks, whether they’re driving, biking or walking, just completely unaware that they’re in the middle of a crosswalk or in the middle of an area that has bicycles and vehicles going in all directions.”
He added that travelers should take their earphones out of their ears, go slower, be more cautious, and look both ways at particularly hazardous areas.
“We’re very distracted as a society for a lot of reasons,” Jones said. “What we’re asking folks to do is minimize those distractions in every way they can so they can be safe and others around them can be safe too.”
Jim Adson, a 22-year-old Japanese major, works at the bike station outside the UMC. He has experienced the problem firsthand.
“I have seen a few near-miss accidents where there is a car driving through and someone just stepped out in front of them,” Adson said. “While I realize the pedestrian has a right of way, you still have some responsibility to look out for yourself. “