Elon University, with its winding brick paths and shady oak trees, is a residential campus at its core. Students walk or bike across campus to their classes and meetings everyday. We cross Haggard Avenue and Williamson Avenue multiple times each day as a part of our daily routines.
In admissions and other marketing materials, the university boasts that it is a walkable campus — that it should only take students twenty minutes to walk from the farthest points. Some students may drive to class if they do not live on campus, but for the most part, students are on their feet walking each day.
Why has Elon’s campus and surrounding area become so dangerous for pedestrians?
In the last few years, there have been three major instances of students being struck by cars on or around Elon’s campus. Two students involved in these events have sustained life-threatening injuries and have had to take a significant amount of time off from their education.
Most students at Elon were likely taught when they were younger to look both ways before crossing the street. But, it seems that students are more and more distracted while walking, which could be contributing to the number of students being injured by passing cars.
According to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center, national pedestrian fatalities have increased by 12.1 percent from 2006 to 2015. The rate of pedestrian injuries increased by 14.8 percent in the same time frame. Elon’s seemingly growing rates of pedestrian injuries are congruent with the national change.
At Elon, this is an issue that must be addressed by both the students, the university and the town as a whole. Students need to be more cautious when crossing the street, even if it seems trivial.
Though pedestrians do legally have the right of way, students still need to be looking both ways before crossing the street and trying to avoid distractions. This can include stopping to have conversations with friends and using cell phones. Students should also be more diligent about only crossing the street when they have a red light or other traffic signal.
On the other hand, the administration and city planning workers in the town of Elon need to do more to make our streets safer. The cross light on the corner of Trollinger and Williamson Ave. where a student was struck two weeks ago does not work properly. Even after pressing the button to cross the street, the traffic signal still does not come on.
Considering how much of a problem pedestrian safety has become, the administration may also consider including more information and education on the topic in Elon 101 classes — for both pedestrians and drivers.
It may seem elementary to many, but pedestrian safety needs to be more prominent in our university’s health and safety initiatives. This issue should not be able to persist on our campus.