Day one on campus; nothing has changed in respect to commuting. Well, if there was any change at all it was in the increased number of dangerous pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists on campus. As the U stated last year there would be changes on and around campus, still I see inattentive pedestrians, still I see people biking where they are not supposed to, and still I see people in cars, buses, and semis intimidating other commuters. Little has changed since the idea contest for making traveling around campus safer, and the only thing it takes to notice this event is your eyeballs.
Let me explain: some people at campus have been in rodeos before; trying to bike, attempting to walk, and potentially driving safely around campus. Others just got on their way this morning, and have amassed little concern with the rules of the road. The latter have never been to their first rodeo.
First rodeo situation: if you haven’t biked on or around campus in the midst of thousands of excited students on the first day of fall semester, it would be your first rodeo. Watch out, be mindful, and know your role. Put your stupid smartphone away and make it from point A to point B. -Safely.
Upon biking to the university this morning for class, I took extra precaution, mentally preparing myself as I do regularly, as I suggested in my concept for a safer campus commute, as the U has so generously used in their emails/slogans: be aware of your surroundings. I’ll take the credit, but I won’t win the award, or be cited, (an award that was presumably never given out- how shrewd).
Arriving on campus, past the new Target, and the face-lifted Dinkytown, how economic- (oh) progressive, I found a vast amount of amateur bicyclists mingling in packs, not following the paths, wearing helmets on handlebars- abrasive, while generally having small regard for their surroundings. I took note of a driver maneuvering a car while texting, and an aimless young athletic male (BRO) biking, weaving his way through the bike lane and into the street while on his phone, fedora affixed atop his blond hair streaming back, held down by a bandana.
I have no positive words for the kind of idiocy I have seen on campus when it comes to getting around. I predict a record number of transit related accidents, injuries, and worse (other euphemisms here), this year, 2014. This is not because people genuinely like putting themselves in danger, or under buses so to speak, but because the life within their phone is evidently more important than the life in front of their bodies.
I am not being pessimistic, I am being honest. Whoever won the contest to make the campus safer deserves a gold star, because they persuaded it/sort of didn’t win it, and slyly. I applaud you. I would have done the same but I am more of an outsider when it comes to making friends high up; I won’t do the photo shoot if I don’t like the cameraman (metaphor).
The U is no safer now for commuters than it was a year ago. As a matter of thought, it is most likely more dangerous because people feel that it is safer. Telling individuals this and that without actually having them observe the act does not prove a point. Take a seat in the grass and watch. In time one will see this conundrum acted out over and over again. The situation is somewhat entertaining, if you aren’t involved with it.
When I sat taking in the sun between classes, near Coffman Union, I noticed one obvious sign of the times; something that’s been there, but seemed more prevalent today, people were engaged more with their electronics than anything else, they were living in a virtual world which exists in their hands. They seldom took in the views before them, they noticed little in their path. On such a beautiful day it was sad and dangerous, heads down; stuck in a box- dangerously isolated.
If the campus wants change they must cite people for walking brazenly down the center of the bike lanes, while texting, or not- just being ignorant. They must position public safety attendants at problem areas, to direct students, until they can finally read signage and adhere to the brightly painted traffic instructions. They, the university, must do their best to capture the attention of those on the go.
When I left this morning, I was nervous for the first day of school, as are most. That exhilarating feeling of taking in knowledge, and expanding my experience with education had me trepid, something I live for. Yet when I came to campus I was more shaken because of my safety and the safety of others, the safety directly related to the lack of attention and ignorance/apathy people put into their movements. A safe campus requires thoughtfulness, and a conscious mindset. If I am worried about selfies and notifications I am not worried about crosswalks and lines on the ground; appropriate signals, on my inevitable journey to and fro.
Which is more important?
Also see: Woman fatally struck by Green Line train was Mpls. attorney