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Traffic lights installed on Ohio State’s campus aim to increase safety

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A traffic light was installed at 12th Avenue and College Road. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

A traffic light was installed at 12th Avenue and College Road. Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editor

A new traffic signal was installed at the intersection of College Road and 12th Avenue before Fall Semester began, its purpose to further traffic safety on Ohio State’s campus.

“The signal was installed to help control high volumes of vehicular and pedestrian traffic and to maintain safe patterns of travel in the area,” OSU spokeswoman for Administration and Planning Lindsay Komlanc said in an email. “When you have particularly high volumes of pedestrian traffic, mixed with motor vehicle traffic, it is most efficient to have a signalized crossing to direct the flow of when pedestrians should cross and when motorists have the right of way.”

Installing the signals cost $343,000, which was funded by the Department of Transportation and Traffic Management, Komlanc said.

Some students are pleased with the addition to South Campus.

“I think for as much traffic as (the area) gets, I believe a light should be there,” said Nathan Bulman, a first-year in mechanical engineering. “I was walking around there last night (Aug. 23), and even when there was a red light, it did not seem like drivers were keen on stopping. It’s reassuring that the light is there, (because) I would rather wait than have a chance of being in an accident.”

However, some students see the signal as unnecessary.

“I feel that it is my own responsibility as a pedestrian for me to look both ways before I cross, and make sure I am not going to get hit,” said David Thomas, a second-year in economics . “I work under the assumption that they are not going to stop for me… I feel like traffic is more of a problem off-campus where you are subject to drunk drivers who are maybe not going to obey things like stop signs, but I feel that the on-campus increase in lights is unwarranted.”

While enforcement of the traffic laws is vital to traffic safety on campus, Komlanc said, writing citations is not a main focus of this campaign.

“OSU PD has had a visible presence on campus since the start of the semester and has been giving warnings related to jaywalking and other traffic safety violations,” Komlanc said. “The citations are always at the officer’s discretion, but the goal isn’t to simply write a lot of tickets, it is to help the university community and all modes of transportation understand the rules of the road.”

Some students believe that issuing warnings and tickets to those who jaywalk on campus will help to curb this type of activity.

The Columbus Division of Police began enforcing jaywalking rules and issued citations for law breaking Spring Semester after a series of accidents in the campus and off-campus area occurred Fall Semester 2012.

Thomas said he thinks ticketing is effective.

“The threat of receiving a jaywalking ticket irritates me, but I do feel that it makes it safer for everyone that is crossing the street,” Thomas said.

Other students, however, believe that issuing tickets is not a permanent solution to the problem on campus.

“I think it would probably stop that individual for a day or two, but I don’t think it would impact everyone,” Bulman said. “Unless you had a cop sitting there 24/7 giving a ticket to everybody, I don’t think there will be any change.”

The Ohio State Traffic and Safety Task Force was created by the university after three traffic incidents on or adjacent to campus left OSU students with severe injuries, according to The Lantern archives.

When the Traffic Safety Task Force was established last fall, it met and developed recommendations in a matter of weeks, Komlanc said.

One recommendation on the Traffic Safety report noted jaywalking as a concern on campus that could be improved by enforcing rules with and without citations by University Police.

“While the group felt that there was a lot of opportunity for increasing traffic safety on campus, they also felt the university had a strong foundation on which to build,” Komlanc said. “The main message is: Whether walking, biking or driving, we all share the responsibility to do so safely.”

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