Just a few days ago, a member of the editorial page board was about to cross the street at Thayer and Waterman when the light changed. Several students ignored the flashing red hand and continued to walk, causing an exasperated driver to roll down his window and yell, "You got a 1400 on your SAT? You don't even know how to cross the street."
Regarding the estimated SAT score, the driver was a little off. Many of us beat 1400 on the 1600 scale, and if we're considering scores on the 2400 scale, then a 1400 isn't exactly Brown material. But his claim that Brown students seem sometimes not to know how to cross the street was far from erroneous. Indeed, many of us are often reckless and impatient pedestrians.
On weekdays, students flood the streets when classes end. The street in front of J. Walter Wilson in particular tends to fill with students, causing an awkward dance between distracted pedestrians and hurried drivers.
Look around other parts of campus, and you're likely to see students blatantly disregarding traffic rules and texting or e-mailing while they walk. As many can attest, the driver we mentioned earlier certainly isn't the first to have a few choice words (or gestures) for student jaywalkers.
We want to see students to take greater individual responsibility for their own pedestrian habits. The rules of the roads and sidewalks are simple, and we can all do a better job of following them.
Of course, even the most careful pedestrians can still face dangers. The Brown community continues to mourn the death of Avi Schaefer '13, who was hit by a driver subsequently charged with drunk driving. Our call today for greater student responsibility on the sidewalks isn't a response to the events that caused Schaefer's death, a tragedy that was the fault of one unconscionably reckless motorist.
Nonetheless, Schaefer's death has brought issues of pedestrian safety to light and played a large role in prompting the University to create a pedestrian safety review committee. The Herald reported Thursday that the new committee will consider fixes for dangerous spots, promote awareness of pedestrian safety issues and coordinate with local law enforcement.
The creation of this committee is a positive step, and we want to highlight several problematic spots for members to consider.
— The Hope and Thayer intersection where Schaefer was killed has long been considered dangerous and rightly deserves to be among the committee's top priorities.
— The Waterman and Brown intersection near Faunce Arch and J. Walter Wilson could use a stop sign. As we mentioned earlier, the pedestrian crossing there is extremely busy and the existing yield-to-pedestrian sign is not enough to ensure an orderly flow of traffic.
— The Charlesfield and Brook intersection lacks a stop sign and creates a hazard for residents of Barbour Hall, Young Orchard Apartments and Perkins Hall.
— Drivers frequently ignore the yield-to-pedestrian sign on Hope Street in front of the Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. This sign needs to be enforced.
With the combination of heightened individual effort and improved traffic rules for a few specific spots, our campus can become a safer place to walk and a less stressful place to drive.
Editorials are written by The Herald's editorial page board. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.