Daniel Chi / Asst. photo editor
Officers from the Columbus Division Police began cracking down on jaywalking over the weekend after several accidents occurred in the University District and campus area involving pedestrian and biker safety. Following a string of bike-related accidents, many students and faculty are concerned about safety near Ohio State’s campus.
The university administration reacted to the concerns Friday when Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee revealed his plans.
“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 a Friday email to OSU students, faculty and staff.
The team will be led by Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president for Student Life, and Jay Kasey, senior vice president for Administration and Planning. According to Gee’s email, they plan to provide an initial assessment within three weeks.
“Safety remains the highest priority on our campus,” Kasey said in a statement released by OSU. “We regularly communicate with faculty, staff and students about all aspects of campus safety, including bicycle and pedestrian safety. We will continue our focus on campus safety.”
In addition to Gee’s efforts to improve the safety of students, the Columbus Police cracked down by enforcing pedestrian and bicycle laws on North High Street in the campus area starting Friday night.
Members of the Columbus Police declined to comment on the subject, and representatives from the Public Information Unit of the Columbus Police Department did not return requests for comment from The Lantern.
Last week, The Lantern reported two bicycle-related accidents on and around campus. On Thursday, a woman was struck by a bicyclist near the corner of North High Street and 17th Avenue before she was taken away from the scene on a stretcher. According to a Thursday evening ABC6 report, a second student was hit while cycling on Lane Avenue and Fyffe Road Thursday morning.
On Aug. 19, first-year student Rachel Stump was struck by a vehicle on North High Street near Chittenden Avenue. According to a Columbus Police report, Stump had been crossing the street without using a crosswalk. Stump was in coma and critical condition following the incident, but has since woken up.
Students can learn about staying safe while traveling around campus by visiting the OSU website “Share The Road,” which Gee included in his email to students. The website includes tips for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists, such as wearing helmets while riding bicycles and using crosswalks while walking.
Students can also get bike safety information from How We Roll, a campaign within the Columbus-based organization Yay Bikes! which, according to its website, offers free bicycle tours of Columbus and aims to help students learn to ride bicycles safely in traffic.
“Having a fun bike tour of Columbus can be a good way for people to understand bike law,” said Meredith Joy, executive director of Yay Bikes!.
Even with these tips and programs available, some students feel that cyclists will not follow bicycle laws, despite the recent incidents.
“I’ve always known that the bikers don’t actually follow the bike laws in the first place, which is a big problem because you can’t tell what they are going to do whether you’re driving or walking, and that’s a big nuisance,” said Anthony Chambers, a third-year in international studies.
Chambers said he sometimes rides his bicycle, and follows rules by getting off his bike while crossing a sidewalk.
However, some students said they don’t see traveling on campus as a dangerous activity.
“I feel safe,” said Michael Sawka, a second-year in mechanical engineering. “But you have to be aware of your surroundings because there’s so many people here, but I feel safe.”
Whether students feel comfortable traveling on campus or not, Gee said the safety of students will always be important to him.
“I assure you that there is no greater priority than the well-being of our students,” said Gee in an email. “Together, we can and will travel more safely.”