The safety hazard that is the Northgate Drive crosswalk continues to be an issue of growing concern for many students and faculty at the University of Dallas. As more and more students are struck by vehicles as they cross Northgate, it is becoming apparent that something must be done. But what?
The most obvious solutions are more cautionary alerts for drivers. Currently, there are a few pedestrian crossing signs with lights on one crossing, and stop signs at another. But it is clear that this is not working, especially at night when visibility is low.
UD physics professor Dr. Richard Olenick offered his suggestions on the matter via email. After a car hit two of his students who were on their way to an astronomy observation, Olenick took a vocal role in promoting change in the situation. His solution? LED lights embedded in the crosswalk that would light up when a pedestrian steps into the roadway. It’s an option specifically designed to direct a series of small flashing lights lining the crosswalk into the driver’s field of vision, making them more visible than roadside warning signs. In-pavement LED warning lights can be solar-powered and they feature a design that is flush with the pavement so that they are safe for bicyclists.
With the integration of in-pavement LED warning lights in the Northgate crosswalk, Olenick believes drivers will be more aware of the approaching pedestrian crossing, and students will enjoy injury-free excursions to and from the neighboring apartments.
However, this solution requires the action of the city of Irving, which is something that cannot be expected to happen overnight.
In the meantime, students should always exercise caution to ensure safe crossing. In addition to the age-old adage — look both ways before crossing the street — students should always make eye contact with drivers and never assume that cars will stop.
Additionally, students should only cross in the designated crosswalks and should avoid crossing alone if intoxicated.
And yet, pedestrian safety practices are only part of the solution. While reckless or unaware drivers are on the road, pedestrians will always be in danger.
The real question is if it will take something more tragic to bring about necessary change to the Northgate crosswalk.
As a community, the students and faculty of UD cannot let that happen. Student safety is of the utmost priority to the University of Dallas and it is up to us to convince the city of Irving of the vital importance of this matter.
We must acknowledge that there is a problem. But more than increased awareness, both the administration and students need to take action.
Hopefully, as a united community, we can all exercise pedestrian safety and demand that drivers do the same. Whether by in-pavement LED warning lights or some other solution, a demand for driver and pedestrian awareness is crucial to avoid further incidents of student injuries on the Northgate crosswalk.