Safety is priority on footbridge

Story by Monica Baltich

After months of working to develop the best plan to decrease dangerous traffic on the footbridge, Student Senate unanimously passed a resolution Monday to address concerns and fix the issues with specific short- and long-term goals.

Senior and Student Services Commission Director Chrissy Duszynski has been the primary senator behind the initiative from the beginning. She said the resolution, though not exactly what she had hoped for, is the best middle ground.

“It’s not the most ideal resolution but it is the best compromise between us (Student Senate) and Facilities Management,” she said. “It is a really positive thing that it’s now becoming more of a priority.”

Special Assistant to the Chancellor Mike Rindo said Facilities Management will enact short term goals by installing signs on  the footbridge regarding safety concerns.  Mirrors will also be placed on both ends of the bridge to help students see around corners.

“This was a very good compromise because changing the lanes, which was originally proposed, would have just caused more problems on the Haas side of the bridge,” Rindo said.

Senior Kenny Vandewater said he used to bike the footbridge everyday and has gotten into many near accidents with pedestrians. However, he attributes them more to inattention from students than the layout of the footbridge.

“It’s just people not paying attention because they’re listening to iPods or texting and then crossing the bike lane without looking,” he said. “I think the mirrors would be more beneficial for pedestrians. Students will probably use them initially but they’ll likely go back to their old ways.”

Vandewater said students get into the “herd mentality” and just bunch together and don’t let bikes cross. He said the only way he can see the problem being fixed is with the reconstruction of the bridge itself.

As part of the long term goals promised in the resolution, Rindo said the reconstruction of the footbridge is part of the campus master plan, and will ultimately be the only sure way to increase safety on the bridge.

“The signs and mirrors are the first step but more repairs and the reconstruction will be the end goal,” Rindo said. “All we can do is make it as safe as we can now.”

Sophomore Abby Nelson lives on the Haas Fine Arts Center side of the bridge and has to cross it everyday to get to class. Even though she thinks changing the footbridge doesn’t seem like the most important thing going on right now, she knows safety is important.

“If having mirrors and signs is going to make it safer, that’s great and I think it would even encourage people to walk more,” she said.
Rindo said even with all the planned changes to the bridge, the main concern is getting people to pay more attention.

“The objective is to get people to be more aware of congestion,” he said, “and get bikes to slow down and help pedestrians to be more mindful.”