Campus becomes more pedestrian-friendly

Pedestrians on the Hill may start to breathe a little easier this fall when it comes time to cross the street.

This summer, WKU implemented a four-way stop on Normal Drive and placed pedestrian crossing signs in particularly dangerous areas on campus, said Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction.

“If we’re going to make any roadway changes, it’s important to do it when school is out of session and be ready to start the school year out already with the changes in place,” he said. “It’s safer to do it then, and there are also no hold-ups. And new students will never know the difference.”

The four-way stop was created in preparation for the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences building’s completion in December, Russell said.

“We need to get everybody used to the fact that this is going to be a busy intersection,” he said.

While the Mimosa lot and Adams-Whitaker Student Publications Center already generate a large volume of students in that area, the College of Education building will create even more, landscape architect Helen Siewers said. With this taken into account, safer pedestrian crosswalks were needed.

The crosswalks were changed on Normal Drive, being placed in more logical intervals, Siewers said.

“We established a visible, regular interval so there’s safer judgment,” she said. “Before, students would take their chances and cross when they could. The goal is to change the behavior of the pedestrian and motorist – make motorists and pedestrians more predictable.”

To make the pedestrian crossings more visible, signs were placed in the three crosswalks on Normal Drive and in 11 other places, Siewers said. There are three more signs to be placed in designated areas later in the semester.

“Initially there were 60 candidate locations, but some were not practical,” she said.

Kelli Hawkins, a senior from Parker, Colo., said she hadn’t noticed the signs or the four-way stop.

“I believe that the pedestrian safety on campus is already overall pretty good,” she said. “People are pretty patient to let people cross.”

Although Hawkins said she believes campus to be pedestrian-friendly, she said she has noticed traffic congestion on Normal Drive near Mass Media and Technology Hall.

“I have noticed traffic problems there before,” she said. “People are being dropped off a lot, so it sometimes causes problems. It’s congested in this area, and traffic is always a problem, and it is not necessarily fixable.”

Siewers said that the locations chosen for signs have high volumes of walking traffic and are very visible to drivers.

“We would rather put the sign in the middle of the road than the side because that’s where the driver is looking,” Siewers said.

The signs contain a retro-reflective material that allow them to be easily seen at night, she said.