TO: The Gonzaga Community
FROM: Thayne M. McCulloh, Ph.D.
SUBJ: Pedestrian Safety
DATE: February 8, 2011
As I know you are aware, the busy streets surrounding Gonzaga’s campus present a challenge to pedestrian and bicycle safety. Since Nov. 16, 2010, four Gonzaga University students and a Sodexo employee have been involved in collisions with motor vehicles while trying to cross a street in our neighborhood. Please know that this issue is of critical importance to me and we are actively working with the City to develop meaningful ways to improve pedestrian safety surrounding campus.
The recent frequency of accidents also calls each of us to be extra diligent to assure the safety of others and ourselves. While the facts surrounding each incident are unique, a common theme is caution and awareness. A challenge we will continue to face is that we cannot control the actions of drivers who choose to disregard the law or posted signs – and we have plenty of evidence that such drivers frequent the arterials surrounding campus. I urge everyone who walks, runs, bicycles or boards to be aware of vehicle traffic. No matter what solutions may be put in place by the City or University, due caution will continue to be the most effective means of avoiding accidents.
For those of us who drive to campus or drive on campus, let us be committed to driving slowly and safely – especially upon approaching crosswalks. Carefully scan the full length of the crosswalk from side to side to identify pedestrians and/or other vehicles that may be stopped for a pedestrian. Weather conditions, lighting and vehicles parked along the road can make it difficult to see pedestrians.
Our Security Department and Public Safety officers recommend the following precautions:
- Only Cross at Intersections: Do not cross mid-block or from between parked cars.
- Make Eye Contact with Oncoming Drivers: Do not assume drivers are going to give you your right-of-way—some drivers do not know the law regarding pedestrian right-of-way. Never enter a crosswalk without first making eye contact with oncoming drivers in both directions. Wave your arm to bring additional attention to yourself if necessary.
- Watch for Cars in Both Directions and Both Lanes: When crossing Hamilton, Sharp, Mission and other busy streets, watch for cars in both directions. Also, just because one lane of traffic has stopped for you, don’t assume the other lane will.
- Wear Bright or Reflective Clothing: If you regularly cross a busy street at dawn or dusk, or if the weather is poor, consider wearing a bright coat or jacket. · Be Alert: Do not text, listen to your iPod or talk on your cell phone while crossing a busy street. Please pay full attention to your safety.
- Walk, Don’t Ride, Through Crosswalks: Pick up your longboard or dismount your bike while crossing the street. Riding increases your speed, thereby increasing the chances drivers will not see you or have time to react to your presence in the crossing.
- Bikes are Vehicles: If you ride a bike, remember that you are governed by the same rules as drivers, not pedestrians. If you bike and choose to use a crosswalk, be sure to walk your bike across the street.
The streets surrounding Gonzaga’s campus belong to the City of Spokane. Therefore, Gonzaga must work collaboratively with the City to identify and implement solutions that may improve safety. While Gonzaga successfully lobbied to help the City obtain federal funding for traffic safety on Hamilton, Gonzaga is collaborating with the City in a process to identify the most cost-effective ways of utilizing those funds. We will continue to do everything possible to expedite this process. Gonzaga is also close to finalizing a proposal to redesign Sharp Avenue for greater safety. I will update all of you – and reach out to individual student groups – when appropriate to share the details of solutions and seek your help in evaluating and implementing those solutions.
Thank you for your efforts at keeping each member of our community safe.
Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.