Speed limit to stay at 25

By Eric Chima

The Champaign City Council unanimously voted against an ordinance Tuesday that would have lowered speed limits from 25 to 20 miles per hour throughout the campus area.

The ordinance came as what Councilman Tom Bruno called a “classic example of a knee-jerk reaction” to the death of student Sarah Channick, who was hit by an MTD bus earlier this year.

“This terrible tragedy … had nothing to do with speed,” Bruno said. “We’re doing this just to feel like we’re doing something.”

Several members of the Illinois Student Senate spoke against the ordinance in front of the council. Joseph Danavi, senior in LAS and one of the student senators, said most recent accidents were caused by dangerous intersections.

“The one thing that binds these occurrences was that speed was not the culprit,” Danavi said. “All the vehicles were turning.”

Justin Cajindos, junior in LAS and chair of governmental affairs for the student senate, suggested audible cautions on buses, strobe lights instead of turn signals, eliminating right turns at red lights and implementing more crosswalks with countdown signals for pedestrians as alternatives to the lowered speed limit.

The speed limit on campus was 30 mph until 2001, when the Champaign City Council voted to lower it to 25. That change, the Illinois Student Senators said, has done little to increase pedestrian safety.

John Dempsey, executive director of facilities and services for the University, said the changed speed limit would have been just one part of a package of issues designed to increase pedestrian safety on campus. The Champaign City Council has for many years maintained a goal of lowering traffic volume altogether on campus.

“The 20 mph speed limit is painful, and that is the point,” Dempsey said. “(We want to) make it hard enough to drive people out of the core of campus.”

Councilman Ken Pirok, said the proposed changes, though well intentioned, were too hasty.

“To me, making most of a college campus into the same school zone as an elementary school … just seems like a rush to judgment,” Pirok said.