GVPD, grounds-keeping staff concerned about pedestrian and bicyclist safety
A young woman steps off the Rapid route 50 and walks down the sidewalk by the Kirkhof Center bus stop, earbuds firmly in her ears, Lady Gaga’s latest album playing full volume.
Her head is down, concentrating on her phone as she texts her boyfriend, thumbs flying. She looks up for barely a moment, then continues texting as she walks right out in front of the truck that she hadn’t seen coming down the drive, hidden as it was by the bus. Brakes screech, tires squeal, a horn blares, but it’s too late; the girl has been hit.
This is just one of many scenarios that the Grand Valley Police Department and Facilities Services have expressed growing concerns about in regard to pedestrian and cyclist safety on Allendale Campus.
There are a number of large vehicles that move through campus on any given day, and between the Rapid buses, the Facilities Services vehicles, grounds-keeping vehicles, supply trucks, and even students’ vehicles, the potential dangers for those walking or riding bikes are staggering.
According to GVPD Capt. Brandon DeHaan, 117 crashes occurred on campus last year, 71 of which occurred in parking lots. Six of these crashes involved bikes. Though the largest number happened in the entrance of campus, two other hotspots concern DeHaan: the entrance and exit to the Kirkhof Center’s parking lot and the crossroads near The Connection.
“What we often have is…individuals riding bicycles often do not pay attention to all the rules of the road,” DeHaan said. “Sometimes they will not signal, sometimes they will not stop if they’re going to go through a crosswalk or stop at stop signs. Last year we had crashes in which bicyclists failed to stop when they came to an intersection. They would just continue and drive on through.
Bicyclists and pedestrians alike need to be alert and aware of what’s going on around them. They’ll have earplugs in, be listening to their ipod, they may be operating a phone, and they’re not paying attention to what’s around them. They’re unable to hear perhaps warning sounds from horns, they’re not seeing out of their peripherals, and seeing what’s going on, and we’ve had several crashes on campus where that was the case. People were just not being alert, not being aware of what’s going on.”
The situation is severe enough that even with the addition of traffic signals at some intersections and the continuing presence of students directing traffic at others, GVSU staff is concerned a student will be injured not by another student, but by someone working for the university.
“I’ve had a student walk in front of me and the pickup truck that I drive…over in the Fieldhouse parking lot, and I had to brake from hitting the person, and I had the right-of-way,” said Ken Stanton, grounds supervisor. “She wasn’t paying attention; she was texting on her cell phone and if I hadn’t been paying attention, or if I had been distracted, I would have hit her. Students walk around with their iPhones and their headsets; they’re texting, they’re not paying attention. The potential for something to happen is there, and that’s our concern.”
Stanton added that though the responsibility of the Facilities Services department is to pay attention and share the sidewalk, the smaller equipment like the mowers can’t drive out in the street, and the facilities staff members still have to get their jobs done. His close encounter with that student justifies the concerns of himself and the other grounds-keeping staff. Similar events may even have led to the installation of traffic lights on campus in the past few years.
“Three or four years ago, there were no traffic lights on campus at all,” Stanton said.
“Students…don’t follow the crosswalk procedures when it’s a vehicle’s turn to make a turn. They’re shortcutting or cutting across the intersections down by The Connection. We had to put traffic lights up down there a couple years ago, because of people not using the crosswalks. We had people jaywalking and crossing outside the crosswalks, so the traffic light went up a year after the intersection was redone…because there was a concern that somebody was going to get hit and injured.”
Though Stanton said the situation isn’t a problem, only a concern, he added that an article in the paper isn’t going to stop it. What will stop it is summed up eloquently on the GVPD website page about pedestrian and bicycle safety.
“Be alert, aware, and responsible for yourself and your community,” the page reads at the bottom in all caps. And of course, as any good mother will tell you, “Look both ways before you cross the street.”
For more tips on how to keep yourself and others safe on campus, check out the GVPD website at www.gvsu.edu/gvpd/pedestrian-and-bicycle-safety-tips-80.htm
Pictures of the Year 2012-2013
8:00 am | MBA Information Meeting: AM session
10:00 am | SAP Farm Stand
5:30 pm | MBA Information Meeting: PM Session
7:30 am | GVSU Downtown Toastmasters
11:00 am | GVSU Track & Field at NCAA Championships
5:30 pm | MBA Information Meeting: Holland
7:00 pm | Failure Lab
11:00 am | GVSU Track & Field at NCAA Championships
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