Traffic safety changes enforced

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Danielle Gaines

Over 124 warning citations have been issued to pedestrians thus far in order for area police to increase attempts to control pedestrian traffic on campus, according to Lt. V.G. “Skip” Frost of the University Police

“We are focusing more on the educational aspect of pedestrian traffic on campus right now,” Frost said. “Hopefully enforcement will not be necessary if the education campaign is successful.”

The cost of a jaywalking ticket is $75.

Lt. Holly Nearing of the Champaign police said that an increased number of citations have been issued to bikes, vehicles and pedestrians.

The increased enforcement of traffic laws is in response to recommendations from the Technical Committee of the Champaign Urbana Urbanized Area Traffic Study. The group met last week to discuss urgent and long-term traffic safety issues following the death of Sarah Channick.

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The City of Champaign has mobilized their radar speed trailers and will continue to move them throughout the campus area. The City of Urbana also has mobilized their units.

Champaign has repainted the crosswalks at Sixth and Chalmers and a stop sign is being installed on southbound Sixth Street, Wednesday.

The repainting of all University crosswalks has started and other traffic markings are being updated at the same time.

The Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District has changed some bus turn signals into strobe lights to increase pedestrian awareness.

“This meeting is to identify everything that we might want to consider as a package of recommendations and then producing alternate solutions,” Champaign Planning Director Bruce Knight said.

Among the problems identified by committee members, pedestrian behavior is the number one concern.

Steven Markowitz, freshman in ACES, joined the committee Tuesday. He stressed education as a priority in pedestrian safety and suggested that a more comprehensive safety presentation be included in campus orientation programs.

“To start the education process before the students even get to campus is a good idea,” Markowitz said. “I didn’t know how to be a pedestrian before I got here.”

Student Trustee Nick Klitzing also recognized the need for a change in student behavior.

“We need to think of ways we can affect how people walk or drive through campus,” Klitzing said. “Students provide a different perspective on the area’s transportation issues.”

Although committee members consider cell phones and other electronic devices a safety hazard, Klitzing points out that many students think just the opposite.

“Students consider cell phones a source of safety,” Klitzing said. “At night, many of my friends are on their cell phones while walking because they believe that no one will attack you if you are on the phone.”

Future education campaigns will focus on increasing student safety awareness with respect to electronics.

As an initial step to increase awareness, the word “Look” will be painted before pedestrian crossings. Several cities including Salt Lake City and London have similar warnings.

Discussion on the reduction of the University District speed limit to 20 mph also continued. Pending approval from the Champaign and Urbana city councils, everyone has agreed to this change. At the next Technical Committee meeting, a map with the exact boundaries of the reduced speed limit zones will be presented.

The committee also created a list of dangerous intersections that includes Illinois Street and Goodwin Avenue, Armory Avenue and Wright Street, and Fourth and Chalmers Streets. Committee members suggested that every intersection on Chalmers Street be considered dangerous.

‘We need to seriously address every issue and every road and every pedestrian crossing,” Klitzing said.

A meeting on the Lincoln Avenue improvements will be held Oct. 27 at Leal School. The discussion will focus on changing the street to three lanes from Pennsylvania Avenue to Nevada Avenue.

Knight said that the committee is stressing the fact that there is “no bad idea” in this process and input is welcome from everyone.

Michael Kilcullen, University graduate student in urban planning, notes that input in the committee’s work is important.

“Everybody uses transportation in this town,” Kilcullen said. “It may be your feet, the bus, a car or bike, but whatever it is, there is a different perspective. People coming together will create the best change.”

The next meeting of the Technical Committee is scheduled for Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Illinois Terminal.