Monroe: Pedestrian safety responsibility of students, staff

Students walking on UK’s campus often find themselves at the mercy of cars racing by, and many just do not care.

Jaywalking has been a problem on UK’s campus for years, but solutions to the problem are few and far between.

“Part of the problem is not just students, but employees also,” said UK Police Chief Joe Monroe. “They need to be aware of their surroundings. It seems basic, but they need to make sure the cars are actually stopped before they step out in the traffic.”

Monroe said Rose Street at least provides a median for people crossing the street to pause in. In contrast, Limestone Avenue is a much wider road.

“If you look at Limestone, you’re trying to cross five lanes of traffic.” Monroe said. “They’re trying to do studies to find out what would be the best way to slow (traffic) down and make it more pedestrian-friendly.”

Of 25 students informally surveyed, 18 said they jaywalk “all the time” on UK’s campus. Some said jaywalking is essential to getting around campus in a timely manner. A few had friends who had been hit by cars before, but they continue to jaywalk.

Only five of the students surveyed said they jaywalk occasionally, but not often. Two students said they never jaywalk.

UK students often said a frequent problem occurs when pedestrians cross the street at intersections when the lights say they should not walk, but they also said more crosswalks would slow down traffic and cause more harm than good.

“I think if (pedestrians) followed the lights that say when they can walk, (the situation) would be a lot better,” said gender and women’s studies junior Alyssa McKenzie. “A lot of times, they don’t see cars coming and they just walk. They’re in a rush, but so are the people who are driving.”

Monroe said people on or around campus are trying to get to their destinations in the shortest amount of time possible, so they cross wherever necessary.

“You have an open sidewalk, so people, as a matter of habit, always take the shortest route to somewhere,” he said. “Some of the things they’re looking at for the project downtown is to install bushes or some kind of curb appeal to direct pedestrians toward the crosswalk.”

Monroe said while pedestrian-vehicle accidents occur periodically, they are not an everyday occurrence.

People on campus can be cited for jaywalking, Monroe said, but it is not a high priority unless it becomes an issue in a certain area.

“If it is a problem, then we’ll send an extra person out there,” he said.