DS View: Walking

Close calls on University Ave. remain a problem due to driver irresponsibility

Driving through campus on University Avenue in the middle of the day can be a pretty unenjoyable experience. You might find yourself crawling by at 20 miles per hour and stopping at every single crosswalk. However, it is important to remember that no matter how frustrating the drive is, you are driving through the middle of a college campus attended by over 15,000 students.

As a veteran campus-walker, I’ve seen some close calls on University, and I’ve been a part of a few myself. I’ve even had friends that have been hit by cars as they cross UND’s main stretch. If you’re wondering, no, the university does not cover your tuition if you get hit on campus, but drivers should be, and are, held responsible in these events.

My closest call came when I crossed in front of a stopped shuttle bus and almost had my toes flattened by a car going well over 30 miles per hour around the bus. The car missed me, but I was close enough to slap its bumper before it busted through the next crosswalk too.

In four years at UND, I have spanked four moving vehicles while crossing University. In order to spank a car, two things need to happen. First, a pedestrian needs to be brave (or stupid) enough to walk across University without breaking stride. Second, a driver needs to be impatient (or stupid) enough to drive passed a crossing pedestrian without slowing down.

I’m not condoning unsafe University Avenue crossings or damaging passing cars, but it’s funny to see how much certain drivers value their time over pedestrian safety. The “car spank” also lets drivers know they should have stopped.

Still, there are two sides to every close call and accident on University. On one side, students do not always look both ways before crossing, and there are not crossing guards at each crosswalk to guide us to safety — not that there should be. On the other hand, it’s clearly stated by the law that pedestrians always have the right-of-way, especially on crosswalks and especially in a school zone.

Then, there is the undeniable fact that the speed limit drops to 20 miles per hour on campus, which many drivers care to ignore.

I take offense to drivers that violate this speed limit because they are usually the cause of the close calls and accidents on campus. With all the signage, lights, traffic, crosswalks and ice on University Avenue, there is absolutely no reason to go above 20 miles per hour, yet drivers still do.

If you are in such a hurry that you need to go faster than 20 miles per hour, try Highway 2 or Demers Avenue, both of which are within a mile of University and have 40 miles per hour speed limits. If not, enjoy the crawl down university and watch out for bumper spanks.

Sam Wigness is the features editor for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].