Home / Spring 2014 / 2014-02-13 / More protection for pedestrians

More protection for pedestrians

It takes approximately 9.8 seconds to cross the pedestrian crossing at North Patterson Street and East College Street.

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Lohmar, 21, was struck by a truck Feb. 5, during the 10 seconds it would have taken for her to cross the road. She struggled at South Georgia Medical Center for the following three days before succumbing to her injuries.

Michael Laslie, 21, was driving the truck that struck Lohmar. Laslie turned himself in to the Lowndes County jail Tuesday morning, shortly after a warrant for his arrest was issued. He is being charged with second degree homicide by vehicle, a misdemeanor charge that can carry up to a year in jail.

We believe that the fault for this crime should extend beyond Laslie. City of Valdosta officials and the Georgia Department of Transportation have a responsibility to maintain safe roadways for motorists and pedestrians alike.

The roads around main campus provide students with multiple areas to cross at, but many of them remain hazardously marked. The crossing on West Brooks Road is marked by little more than a zebra-striped crossing and a single spotlight.

The crossing where Lohmar was tragically struck is similarly marked; a stoplight stands adjacent to the site.

Patterson Street is a state road and is controlled by the GDOT, the department responsible for signage and crossings.

Van Mason is the district traffic engineer for the GDOT.

“If [Mason] tells us to put it up, we put it up,” Donny Carter, GDOT assistant area engineer, said.

At the Spectator, we believe that the amount of protection for pedestrians is inadequate. The crossing on Patterson Street in front of the University Center has lights to warn drivers that a pedestrian is waiting to cross, but there should be even more.

“If someone has concerns that they think safety needs to be enhanced, then all they have to do is request it and DOT will do a study,” Nita Birmingham, GDOT district communications officer, said.

It is time for the University to make that request. All students need to band together and say “enough is enough, we want safety.”

No request has been made to the DOT at the time of this publication.

Students and Faculty should email VSU President Dr. William McKinney at wmckinney@valdosta.edu. Demand that he request a study to be done on all of the roads around campus and that he strongly recommend improvements to existing crosswalks.

Nicholas Buford, sophomore SGA senator, has already submitted a request to VSU to install school zone speed limits, “the offsetting of timers between green lights and pedestrian walking time” and the addition of noise alerts for pedestrians.

All crosswalks should be fitted with treatments to slow traffic, highly visible signage, in-street signage and flashing pedestrian crossing lights.

Students also need to exercise extreme caution when crossing the street. Cars are not able to stop immediately, and in low visibility areas pedestrians might remain invisible until it is too late.

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