Rutgers students discuss dangers, uses of jaywalking
University students seem to be braver than they should be when it comes to dodging cars on busy streets.
At a Rutgers University Student Assembly (RUSA) meeting on March 3, University President Robert L. Barchi expressed concerns regarding pedestrian safety.
“You can’t see (pedestrians), especially at dusk and in the dark, and (accidents are) gonna happen. Jaywalking is against the law, not to mention the fact that it’s dumb,” Barchi said.
In 2013, 4,735 pedestrians were killed in motor vehicle crashes, averaging more than 12 people per day, according to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center.
These concerns were raised because of a Feb. 15 accident near Cabaret Theater on Douglass campus that sent two students to the hospital.
Barchi said installing more crosswalks might not be a functional solution, citing the relatively new crosswalk in front of the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus.
The walkway is now outfitted with a pedestrian-operated stoplight. While the change may seem small, Barchi said it took three months to determine “how long the lights should be on” and other logistical nuances.
George Street is not the only location for these new signs and signals. Last semester two new signs with flashing lights were installed at the intersection of Biel Road and Dudley Road on Cook campus.
Barchi is willing to add more crosswalks and signs, but he suggested the assembly create an educational program about pedestrian safety and using crosswalks.
RUSA is not currently creating such a program, said assembly members Mohamed Asker, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, and Rachana Kelshikar, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.
School of Arts and Sciences sophomore Pete Samper said such a program may lack merit. He said it is unlikely he would attend a pedestrian safety meeting.
Lauren Iacobucci, a School of Engineering junior, agreed with the sentiment, said she would also not attend such a presentation.
Both Samper and Iacobucci use crosswalks frequently. Samper said he does not use crosswalks about one in five times.
Iacobucci said she always uses crosswalks unless she is at Cabaret Theater or the Livingston Student Center. She lives in one of the Livingston apartments and feels the crosswalks there are unnecessary.
But Samper said using crosswalks is a safer alternative than jaywalking.
“Most people here don’t even look both ways before walking,” he said. “Crosswalks exist for drivers to have a visual that they can see ahead of them to see people coming. If they’re not anticipating people walking across the street, it could be more dangerous.”
At the same time, he said that it is not terribly important if people do not use crosswalks.
As long as pedestrians check for oncoming traffic instead of “just stepping out in front of cars," jaywalking is not a huge issue, Iacobucci said.
Bushra Hasan is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in cell biology and neuroscience. She is a staff writer for The Daily Targum. Follow her on Twitter @Hasanabanana for more.