April 09, 2014 by Alex Cho
Last year, Drexel University experienced a period of heavy construction primarily around MacAlister Hall for the luxurious Chestnut Square apartment building and various restaurants and shops. For safety purposes, the school had to block sidewalks around the construction area, so the only way to gain access to the Handschumacher Dining Center, MacAlister Hall and Creese Student Center was to cross at a temporary crosswalk with a traffic light to prevent pedestrian injuries. The temporary system worked fairly well until the end of construction, and no unfortunate accidents occurred around the construction area. As a result, it seemed reasonable to remove the temporary crosswalk and go back to having students cross at street corners.
Now that construction is nearly complete, in order to access the dining hall, MacAlister, Creese and Chestnut Square, students should use crosswalks at the intersections of 33rd or 32nd and Chestnut streets. The problem is that it is “inconvenient.”
I do not worry about Chestnut Square residents because the primary entrances to the apartments are located near crosswalks. However, for nearly everyone else, it is far more convenient to simply jaywalk across Chestnut Street to reach their destinations. For some, it may be habit that crossing in the middle of Chestnut Street is more comfortable. For some running late, it may be they have to jaywalk to reach their destinations in time. Many students choose the shorter route — even if that route involves jaywalking instead of crossing at street corners. Consequently, every time I walk near MacAlister Hall, I see a significant number of people simply jaywalk across Chestnut Street.
Clearly, jaywalking is not safe. Fortunately, Chestnut Street is one-way, so there are fewer points of conflict. However, that does not mean that accidents will never happen. Rather, it is just a matter of time before an accident will occur. Considering the quantity of both pedestrians and automobiles, an accident will likely cause serious trauma. Just a few weeks ago, a fatal accident almost occurred. When I was walking near Shake Shack, someone was trying to jaywalk. He was standing right next to a truck that blocked him from fully checking the street before crossing. When no cars were around, he assumed that it was safe to cross. However, he did not see the car that was quickly moving through the street, blocked from view by the truck. Fortunately, before he could even step into the street, the car passed by him. It was simply a matter of seconds. If he was just a few seconds faster, he would have been on the front page of The Triangle. Unless something practical is done, similar situations will definitely occur again. When that does happen, there is no guarantee the student will be lucky enough to walk away without serious injury.
It would be best for people to not jaywalk. Often, people will refuse to change their behavior until an accident directly delivers the message that their behavior is dangerous. Therefore, it is up to Drexel’s administration to convince the city government of Philadelphia that safety measures must be installed. Placing signs, signals and crosswalks is the responsibility of the Streets Department. It is definitely true that individuals can appeal to the local government to place signs and crosswalks on Chestnut Street. Yet, I seriously doubt the act of one individual would make a significant impact. Therefore, I believe that in order to gain visible change in the near future, the school administration must take necessary actions to ensure the safety of Drexel students. Hopefully the proper traffic signs and crosswalks will be installed before any unfortunate incident occurs.
Alex Cho is a sophomore political science major at Drexel University. He can be contacted at [email protected]