All too often pedestrians take advantage of the fact they have the right of way while on campus and take those rules with them onto Carbondale city streets. This has to stop, especially on streets that are not on-campus.
One area in particular is on Grand Avenue between the Recreation Center and University housing. For many years, the area has been of concern to the University about student safety and what can be done to ensure deadly accidents do not occur.
The speed limit on Grand is 30 mph, which is the norm for city streets, but since SIU students heavily populate the area, there needs to be an agreement between the city and the University to make the area safer.
The solution to the problem is not one person’s responsibility, the University, city, motorists and pedestrians all have to work together to make sure the persons crossing are safe.
According to City Manager Jeff Doherty, lowering the speed limit would not change a thing. “The problem is not the speed limit, but primarily the fact that Grand is four lanes. People on the inside may stop and the person on the outside cannot see the person crossing and continues to go through,” he said.
His bottom line is, four lanes create dangerous situations and the idea of having two major University facilities across from each other on a major city street was a bad idea to begin with.
Then what should be done? The University did not make the plan alone; it had to be approved by the city before the ground was broken to begin building.
Doherty suggests that an overpass be built for students to use, but admits that he thinks not many people would use it.
Chancellor Walter Wendler and Vice Chancellor Glenn Poshard’s solution to the problem is lowering the speed limit. That can be both a good and bad thing.
It will be good because drivers going at a lower speed, if in an accident, will hit the pedestrian or other motorist at a lesser speed, minimizing the injury. The faster they are going, the greater the injury.
On the other hand, lowering the speed limit could see more people speeding and raise the possibility of accidents.
Pedestrians need to stop and look before walking into the street, motorists need to pay more attention while driving in the area and the University and city officials need to sit down and devise a plan that will work for both groups.
Grand Avenue is a city street, but it is just as much a part of the University as Lincoln drive or Douglas Drive, so no matter who has the final say in the situation, they should want to look out for the safety of SIU students.