Panel studies student safety

By Julian Scharman

Bruce Knight, chairman of the Campus Area Transportation Study Committee and planning director for the City of Champaign, led a discussion Tuesday concerning pedestrian safety at the University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St.

Knight and the Campus Area Transportation Study Committee have been working since 1997 to improve traffic and pedestrian flow in the University District.

In his presentation, Knight said there needs to be a balancing of interests and everyone must give a little to gain a lot to improve pedestrian safety.

Some of the committee’s major goals, Knight said, are to shorten pedestrian crossing distances, slow traffic, make different modes of transportation work together as best as possible, and to encourage people to use fringe streets around the perimeter of campus rather than drive through the heart of it.

Gale Jamison, assistant city engineer of Urbana, whom also serves on the committee, spoke of a Lincoln Avenue consolidation project as part of expediting traffic flow.

“Lincoln Avenue has a very high pedestrian component to it, including fraternities and sororities, and a lot of people who live there walk or ride bikes into campus,” Jamison said.

Jamison said the plan also includes only one bus stop between Nevada Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, and a change from three lanes to two to improve pedestrian safety.

Other advances in campus area pedestrian safety were also discussed.

Bill Volk, managing director of the Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District, said mechanical changes have been made on buses to improve pedestrian safety. The changes include yellow strobe lights along both sides of the bus and a beeping turn alert system installed on articulated buses.

The University has stepped into the digital realm to inform student pedestrians. The newly launched “liveUP” campaign features local bands in the community to provide podcasts via their Web site at www.looklistenlive.com. The podcasts offer free music with quick tips on how to stay safe that play at the beginning and end of each song, Volk said.

“It’s a crazy world out there,” said Volk. “Make sure that you take care of yourself and keep your eyes open wherever you go.”