On Sept. 12, 2019, the Student Senate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte passed an “Act to Address Pedestrian and Traffic Flow,” also known as the “Crosswalk Safety Act.” The primary sponsor of the legislation, Jacob Baum, is the Pro Tempore of the Student Senate.
Over the past couple of years, off-campus housing has grown to include Haven49 and University Crossing, resulting in hundreds of students who have to cross University City Blvd to enter campus every day. Many UNC Charlotte students who live or park off-campus either walk or bike to class. The legislation addresses this concern by asking for the City of Charlotte and UNC Charlotte to partner together to establish proper infrastructure to regulate pedestrian and traffic flow in and around the University area.
On Aug. 2, UNC Charlotte graduate student Vivek Pathipati was fatally struck by a van while walking along University City Boulevard. The North Carolina Department of Transportation has been working with others to make the area safer by adding concrete medians so drivers won’t be able to turn left.
Currently, UNC Charlotte has created crosswalks at Craver Rd, Mary Alexander Rd and Cameron Boulevard in order to regulate pedestrian and traffic flow. In Section I of this legislation, the Student Senate proposes that UNC Charlotte “conduct a study on pedestrian safety and traffic flow at the crosswalks of Mary Alexander Rd at Robinson Hall and University Rd at the Reese building.”
The Student Senate also “supports and encourages UNC Charlotte to consider implementing temporary or permanent signalized crosswalks on Mary Alexander Rd at Robinson Hall and University Rd at the Reese building” in Section II of the Crosswalk Safety Act.
Enrique Rodriguez-Cue, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee and a secondary sponsor of the legislation, believes pedestrian safety is a “widely-held concern of the student body” especially when it comes to “crosswalks that operate on a yield system.” Rodrigues-Cue is concerned for students because he sees how “drivers speed on John Kirk Drive all the time, but people who walk to class from the apartment complexes surrounding campus use that crosswalk frequently.”
The City of Charlotte’s “Vision Zero: Safer Streets for Charlotte 2019-2030 Action Plan” aims to “reduce crashes and eliminate traffic-related deaths and severe injuries.” E Mallard Creek Church Road, located in the northeast perimeter of campus, is identified as an area with a high incidence of severe and fatal crashes in this plan.
Inside UNC Charlotte, which is produced and maintained by the Office of University Communications, published an article on Sept. 16, 2019 about a University Area Thoroughfares Study that will be conducted by UNC Charlotte, University City Partners, the Charlotte Department of Transportation (CDOT) and North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT). The purpose of the study is “to improve access and safety for pedestrians, bicyclists and motor vehicles that may enter and exit UNC Charlotte’s main campus.”
The University Area Thoroughfares Study is in the initial public involvement phase that includes a survey. All faculty, staff, students and visitors and encouraged to participate and can choose to be entered into a prize drawing.