DPSSS encourages caution crossing Grand

In mid-October, a student was hit by a car crossing Grand Avenue. She suffered minor injuries in her leg and was rushed to the hospital by Department of Public Safety and Security Services officers patrolling the area.

According to Sergeant Pasquale Signorino of DPSSS, another student was struck at the cross section of Laclede and Grand Avenues on Wednesday, Dec. 1.

“It seems that in the last three to four months, there have been an unusual number of pedestrians in auto accidents,” Sgt. Signorino said.

As the St. Louis weather drifts toward heavy rains and ice, more such accidents are expected to occur on campus.

“Clearly, crossing a busy street is a safety issue for anybody,” Kent Porterfield, Vice President of Student Development, said.

Grand Avenue, a busy St. Louis transit artery, cuts through the middle of the main campus, and students have ten minutes to make it to class and often rush to make it to their classes on time.

Drivers, however, do not always adjust their driving habits to accommodate students that are in a hurry, and adhere to the traffic pattern dictated by the stoplights.

“One thing that is important to point out is that there’s a signal device at the cross sections,” Porterfield said. “But folks tend to get impatient.”

This impatience is often followed by outright gallantry, giving Grand Avenue the nickname “Billiken Frogger” among students, according to Signorino.

“This may be amusing,” Signorino said, “But it could cause serious damage and injury.”

Student Aimee Warnke, junior, agrees that the drivers are often not at fault.

“More often than not, cars actually stop and let pedestrians go,” Warnke said, “which is not the safest thing to do because there are cars behind them.”

Signorino and Porterfield agreed that administering this issue would have no easy solution, and would certainly be expensive.

The possibilities of an underground tunnel or an overhead pedestrian bridge have been considered, but “it’s hard to imagine how that would fit,” Porterfield said, adding that it would require an immense of amount of resources such as time and money.

Since the frequent accidents, the number of DPSSS officers around the cross sections enforcing the right of way has increased.

DPSSS officers have intermittently switched the traffic lights, particularly the one at the Grand Avenue crosswalk connecting the East and West sides of campus, to manual operation.

“Sgt. Roland Corvington is meeting with the director of St. Louis traffic this week to think of other ways,” Signorino said.

But the most proactive solution, in Signorino’s opinion, is, simply, responsibility.

“There is not enough cooperation from students and faculty and staff,” Signorino said. “Everyone crosses illegally.”

Although DPSSS has been cooperating with the city traffic administrators to enforce the speed limits and cautions, Signorino said he hopes that students and staff will act cooperatively and responsibly to reinforce these safety precautions, teaching freshmen and all newcomers to do the same.

“When my kids said to me, ‘Dad, why aren’t you wearing your seat belt?'” Signorino said, “I wore my seat belt because I wanted to be a responsible parent. In order for sophomores and seniors to be ‘responsible parents’ towards freshmen, they need to break this chain and stop crossing.”

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