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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

New devices to enhance pedestrian safety

Cars pass the updated speed limit sign on City Avenue. PHOTOS: MITCHELL SHIELDS ’22/THE HAWK

Pedestrian safety and traffic-flow mechanisms were recently installed on City Avenue as part of an ongoing project to make the road safer.

The long-term project by the university is in conjunction with the City Avenue Special Services District and has been in the works for several years, according to Tim McGuriman, associate vice president of Administrative Services.

These improvements come after a December 2017 incident in which a student was struck by a car that ran a red light at the Lapsley Lane intersection. McGuriman said that the project was already in the works when he started at St. Joe’s in July 2016 and was not inspired by a specific incident.

“The ones that could be done more easily were done over the break,” McGuriman said. “These were bundled as sort of more immediate installations that could be done.”

McGuriman said that aside from the rumble strips and numerous speed limit signs, the project included other installations that aren’t as visible to pedestrians.

One of those is a device that detects pedestrians at crosswalks without them having to push the button. It also signals pedestrians to cross early enough to establish themselves in the crosswalk.

The university investigated how effective these measures would be by using other schools are examples, according to Cary Anderson, Ed. D., associate provost and vice president of Student Life.

“When there was conversation about putting in speed strips, we knew there were some at Thomas Jefferson University,” Anderson said. “A group of us drove over there just to see what they were like.”

The rumble strips installed on City Avenue are similar to the ones at Thomas Jefferson University.

A car approaches the new rumble strips on City Ave.

McGuriman said the project is sponsored not only by the university, but by state grants and allocations, as well as other members of the City Avenue Special Services District.

Anderson said while these safety measures have been added, Public Safety officers are no longer patrolling the crosswalk at Lapsley Lane, a pedestrian safety measure no longer implemented now that McShain Bridge has reopened.

“When the bridge was closed, that took away one of the, in my opinion, safest ways to cross the road,” Anderson said. “Now that the bridge is open, Public Safety will go by periodically, but then they’re out doing their patrols.”

Students have noticed a change in traffic flow on City Avenue since the mechanisms were installed.

Sabrina Grandrimo ’20, who drives to campus from Manayunk, said these new safety measures are effective in slowing down traffic on City Avenue but do not disturb her commute.

“Everyone knows that [the rumble strips] are bad on your car, and City Avenue is so slow now because they’re watching where they’re going, especially with the pot holes,” Grandrimo said. “It took the same amount of time to get to class. It makes you more aware because you don’t have all this space in front of you to fly down the street.”

Grandrimo did, however, say she isn’t quite sure how effective the speed limit signs are.

“The speed limits are kind of hard to read and see when they’re beginning,” she said.

McGuriman said this isn’t the end of the initiative to safen City Avenue traffic. There are more plans for the future, including stamped crosswalks, that are pending approval.

“When you cross between the crosswalk now, there’s an identified crosswalk,” McGuriman said. “But we’re looking to put in stamped intersections that will indicate a broader pedestrian crossing, make them more identifiable.”

Another mechanism that has been discussed are medians that will serve as a “place of refuge,” as McGuriman called it, for pedestrians if they ever get stuck in the middle of the road when the light changes.

Although both Anderson and McGuriman said these measures have allowed the university to make great progress in pedestrian safety, it’s ultimately up to drivers and pedestrians alike to be aware of their surroundings.

“Encouraging people not to be texting and talking on phone when crossing is important,” McGuriman said. “I still see people crossing mid-block, trying to beat a light. You could put any number of measures in place. It still comes down to a lot of individual responsibility.”

Brian Gallery ’22 said that although being slowed down on City Avenue can be frustrating, he welcomes the reminder to drive more safely.

“It’s so easy to fly down City Avenue but with the rumble strips, it’s a good reminder,” Gallery said. “As a driver, it’s annoying I guess but as someone who wants people to cross safely, I think it’s an amazing idea.”

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