Yifan Gu was hit by a cyclist last week, and after a string of accidents, it was a final straw for the Columbus Division of Police.
Columbus Police Precinct 4 Commander Chris Bowling said recent safety implementations were “galvanized” by Gu’s accident, which occurred outside Chumley’s on High Street Sept. 6.
Gu remained in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at Wexner Medical Center Thursday afternoon.
Bowling said she “probably is not going to make it.”
Last weekend, Columbus Police began cracking down on pedestrian and bicycle safety, and Bowling said they issued 241 citations in the University District area that were a “combination of jaywalking and bicycle violations.”
Citations were issued last Friday and Saturday nights by the campus walking crew, a Columbus Police bicycle force, who patrolled the High Street area.
Mike Gans, a second-year in computer science and engineering, was ticketed Sept. 7 for walking into the street near High Street and 13th Avenue, where the sidewalk was too crowded to pass. He said the women he was with were able to stay on the sidewalk and curb but he chose to walk in the street.
“I’ve always been taught to walk on the side of danger,” Gans said, as to why he stepped into the street.
Gans said he walked for 22 paces in the street, then stepped back onto the sidewalk. A female officer on a bike pulled him aside and asked for his license.
“I explained to her the whole chivalrous thing, but she wasn’t really listening,” Gans said.
Gans said he has a court date scheduled for Sept. 17 but doesn’t know exactly how much the ticket will cost. He said the officer told him it would be more than $100, but because it hasn’t been put in the system, Gans hasn’t been able to check how much he owes.
Tommy Johnson, a fourth-year in marketing, said his jaywalking ticket was a huge surprise.
“I was doing what I’ve been doing for the past three years or so,” he said.
Johnson was pulled aside by a police officer last weekend after crossing 15th Avenue.
“I thought they were just giving me a warning, but then he started writing out this ticket,” he said.
Johnson said in his three years at OSU, he had never seen something like this happen. He said it was unfair to target college students, who can’t all afford to shell out the extra money.
“We got the message, we don’t need the tickets,” he said.
Johnson has a court date scheduled for Sept. 18 and plans to challenge the citation.
Bowling said verbal warnings were also given to pedestrians and cyclists, and while Columbus Police doesn’t keep track of how many of those it gives out, he said it was likely equivalent to written citations.
Bowling said Columbus Police plans to continue writing citations in the campus area.
“This weekend, we’ll be back up on campus again … watching to see what happens, and we’re really hoping for a reduction,” Bowling said.
Bowling said the citations were met with mixed reactions. He said some people understood why these rules were being enforced, but some bystanders made “inflammatory remarks” to officers.
“Bystanders who weren’t really involved in the situation were weighing in heavily, wanting to know why this was happening,” Bowling said.
But the Columbus Police are not the only ones planning to make serious changes on how campus area safety is regulated and enforced.
In a Monday interview with The Lantern, OSU President E. Gordon Gee said the university is taking steps to correct safety issues on campus by raising awareness of the problem.
“We just need to encourage our kids to be more safe,” Gee said. “Students are walking along wearing hoodies, earbuds and sitting there texting all the time. The university has a responsibility to keep students safe. We have to create awareness.”
In a Sept. 7 email to students, faculty and staff, Gee informed recipients of his plans for a safety change at OSU.
“Today I am assembling a team of students, faculty and staff to review our existing efforts and to look for new opportunities to further enhance our safety on sidewalks and roads,” Gee said in the email.
Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, and Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Administration and Planning, were selected to lead the task force.
Kasey said the task force was scheduled to meet Thursday for the first time to put together recommendations, to be brought before Gee no later than Oct. 1.
While it is unknown at this time exactly what actions will be taken by the university, Kasey said it could include ticketing bikers who don’t follow bicycling policy and jaywalkers.
“Those things may happen, but we want to make sure we can say … the entire campus supports these changes, and expects that the rest of us will live by the plans were going to make,” Kasey said.
While many students have said something must be done about pedestrian and bike safety on campus, some said they didn’t think citing students was a good idea.
“There aren’t crosswalks at every necessary place where students need to get across to their classrooms. And people are in a hurry and they can’t walk out of the way, so jaywalking’s kind of necessary,” said Nicole Jenkins, a fourth-year in speech and hearing science.
Chris Cyphert, a fourth-year in consumer and family financial services, said he didn’t think students should be ticketed because he’s “guilty of it a lot.”
Kasey said Friday afternoon volunteers in green shirts will be on campus, handing out safety messages between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.