How to stay safe while getting around on campus
A golden rule of being a pedestrian, which has been drilled into the heads of children for generations, is to look both ways before crossing the street. At a place like Central – which sees traffic from the likes of drivers, longboarders, walkers and bikers – the journey around campus can be treacherous.
For David Wilber, a Battle Creek senior, it's not the traffic that causes the problem, it's the pedestrians. Wilber said in his time on campus, he has seen pedestrians become more and more reckless over the years.
“[Pedestrians] don’t respect drivers,” said Wilber, 25, a sports management major. “At a stop sign I’ll wait, I’ll let people cross but you know. They don’t look and they just go. I could have hit them! I mean respect drivers!”
To keep safe on campus and to avoid being hit by someone you might not see coming, Lieutenant Larry Klaus of Central Michigan University Police Department offers some tips to make pedestrian life just a bit easier.
“One of the biggest things for a pedestrian is to be aware of where you’re at,” Klaus said. “The biggest thing we want to encourage is to be aware of where you are.”
During the day, Klaus recommends that students remain conscious of their surroundings. He cites earphones and cellphones as being a major reason as to why students are so distracted when traveling across campus.
“Pay attention to crosswalks, stop signs, and roadways,” Klaus said. “Make sure that vehicles are stopping before walking into cross walks”
For students who take late night classes, Klaus said.
“The best advice is to travel in well-lit areas,” he said. “It’s advisable to travel with more than one person. Try to walk with another group or in proximity to another group.”
During the last three and a half years that Klaus has worked in Mount Pleasant. As a CMU police officer, he says that the department has written no tickets for jaywalkers. However, in 2013 alone, CMUPD has handled 153 accidents, eight of which involved injury.
One of those injuries occurred last year, as student Anthony Cavatio was hit and critically injured walking across Mission Street. Messages and phone calls placed to contact Cavatio have not been returned.
“Generally, for the most part students are obeying [traffic laws],” he said. “The vast majority of students are utilizing the crosswalks and we also don’t see a lot of our students walking in the road. It hasn't been problematic for us.”
Klaus admits that even bikers can be the cause of trouble. Riding around with headphones in, disregarding traffic stops and failing to break at crosswalks leads to what Klaus calls “educational talks” with cyclists. He hopes that by enlightening bikers to how dangerous their behavior can potentially be that they will change their habits.
“Our goal is to not be punitive,” he said. “Our goal is to educate and help keep our students safe.”
In order to stay safe on campus, some preventative measures can be taken to ensure the health and security of students. When walking to and from class, the simple and safe thing is to stay on sidewalks and make sure to observe all traffic signs, as Klaus recommended. To automatically assume that a car is going to stop for a walker in a crosswalk is in err, as most traffic accidents occur in that way.
For night classes, make sure that when walking to a dorm or a car, to go in groups so as to minimize the event of anything happening such as a mugging or assault. In the result that an individual must walk alone and feels unsafe, pepper spray can be purchased at the bookstore in the UC.
If all else fails, Klaus recommends calling Safe Rides.
“Safe Rides is offered to students here regardless,” Klaus said. “It’s if they need a ride. We don’t ask why they want the ride, just when we get a call we send out a dispatch to pick them up.”
Safe Rides is a free university transport system that takes students who are walking alone to a destination to their intended location. They operate between the hours of 6 p.m-2 a.m every day of the week and can be reached at 989-774-HELP.