Every college student jokes about being hit by a car, miraculously surviving, and getting their tuition paid for. This joke is quite seriously feet away from being a reality for many UCR students. Whether you are commuting a short distance from your car, an off-campus apartment or even across sidewalks, there are vehicles who come dangerously close to hitting students. This is an ongoing safety hazard and is a two-way street — students risk their lives by crossing whenever it is convenient for them or not, and Riverside community members value their time more than allowing students to fully cross the street.
Students can mostly be assured a safe crossing when there are designated lights at the crosswalk. However, there are only six lights that connect the campus to off-campus areas. Safe crossing is not guaranteed for many heavy traffic spots on campus such as Aberdeen Drive and North Campus Drive intersection, Parking Lot 1 across West Campus Drive at the roundabout and most importantly, the intersection on West Big Springs Road and Watkins Drive. These particular streets are only a few of the many that need to be addressed to create safer paths for students. The last reported incident of a car hitting a pedestrian at UCR was done by a UCPD officer back in early April of 2019.
These crossing points are in dire need of improvement for the sake of students’ safety. Many would benefit from the addition of crosswalk warning lights. Because students travel to and from opposite sides of the campus at all times of the day, the lights could provide extra protection for early foggy mornings or late rainy nights. Currently, all crosswalks provide white lines to indicate the region to cross but many of them are faded. While these minimal lines are an issue, they are not the main problem. What is putting students’ lives in danger are the vehicles that roll through stop signs. Whether you commute by car or walk, you are able to identify the many drivers who value their time over students’ lives.
The crossing at West Big Springs Road and Watkins Drive is an intersection that experiences high traffic from people on foot, motorists, bicyclists, skateboarders and persons with disabilities with wheelchairs. Although this crossing is technically off school property, it is connected to an entrance of UCR and used by many students. The high traffic is due to the multitude of students exiting campus, but also because it provides an alternative traffic route for cars. The people who use this route are always in a rush and illegally roll through the stop signs. If you stand on any one of these corners during morning or evening commuting hours, 7:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., you would see how dangerously close these drivers are to hitting students trying to make their way to class. This is an intersection that needs installment of light-up pedestrian signs, in-pavement lights and a police officer to cite wrongdoings.
The UCR students also carry a responsibility in safely crossing the street. It is important to cross at designated crosswalks to prevent any car-to-person contact and to reduce traffic. Another responsibility of the students is that they must respect those driving, as running in front of a car also puts the driver’s life in danger. Students not abiding by designated crosswalks can be witnessed at the crossing at Aberdeen Drive and North Campus Drive and the cross at North Campus Drive up to where the Student Counseling Center is located. The traffic builds up at both locations, both of which are only feet away from each other. At this location it might even be ideal for the campus to provide parking enforcement staff to control traffic to create a safe and efficient area.
UCR’s location in the suburbs and the increase in student population subjects students to all types of motorists and the lack of precautions taken at crosswalks could cost them their lives. It’s alarming that the school has yet to take action on an issue that threatens the success and lives of students every day. So in the meantime, students must not forget to look left and right: it could save their lives.