28 September 2008

U.T. needs to ditch driving on campus

This past week U.T.'s Parking & Transportation Services proclaimed

...Beginning Wednesday, September 24th, there will be a Travis County Sheriff
Officer located at the intersection of Speedway and 24th Street.  This
officer is being placed at this intersection to provide a secure crossing
environment for pedestrians and vehicular traffic....

As safety is our primary concern, all pedestrians in this area should heed
the warning signs and utilize sidewalks for travel, including the east side
of Speedway between Dean Keeton and 24th Street and the south side of 24th
Street between Speedway and Inner Campus Drive.  Please do not walk in the
street or along the closed west sidewalk area of Speedway as construction
traffic in this area is very heavy and pedestrians create potentially
hazardous situations
Having just spent two days at ACL with tens of thousands of pedestrians, I'm pretty sure the people on foot aren't the most preventable root cause of hazardous situations. If some smelly hungover dude accidentally staggers sideways and body checks you while you cross 24th street, you'll still make it to class.  Promise.

The problem is that U.T. stupidly encourages driving across 24th street. Take a look. Those cars? Those aren't construction. The traffic consists of people parking and physical plant vehicles. The intersection becomes hazardous when impatient drivers nudge through a sea of thousands of students on foot mixed with bicycles. Guys with hard hats driving triple diesels aren't the problem vehicles. It's the regular cagers expecting to treat a college campus like any other street.

Students should, of course, be courteous to drivers. But cross campus traffic should be forced to travel north two blocks, across the four lane 26th street, and then two blocks south to San Jacinto. U.T. is not an urban campus, and it should capitalize on that fact by creating pedestrian-only areas where possible. 24th and Speedway would be a great place to start.

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