Drivers and pedestrians at Brandeis need to increase their commitment to safety, according to Brandeis’ Director of Public Safety, Ed Callahan, who said he “receives complaints almost daily about speeding vehicles and near accidents with pedestrians and bicyclists,” in an email to the Brandeis community on Tuesday, Oct. 13.
Callahan addressed specific concerns for roadway safety on campus, including speeding vehicles and pedestrians texting while walking. Since the start of the school year, Callahan has received complaints from both faculty and community members regarding the safety of campus roads.
Vehicles play an important role on campus roads and a vital one in keeping them safe. According to Callahan, vehicles need to be more aware. The speed limit on campus roadways is 15 miles per hour. “I [received] complaints about speeding vehicles on the Loop Road and sometimes vehicles driving the wrong direction,” wrote Callahan in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. Public Safety has conducted, “about 10 motor vehicle stops for speeding and associated violations on campus” since August.
While speeding poses a significant problem on campus roads, driver confusion poses an equally substantial danger. Students have raised concern about the entrance to campus. “Over by the Brandeis sign … a lot of cars just don’t know where they’re going and what they’re doing. I don’t know whether that’s more dangerous for pedestrians or cars,” said Isabella Stork ’18.
Pedestrians play an equally vital role in keeping campus roadways safe, Callahan said in his email to the Brandeis community. There are several areas on campus in which pedestrian safety is of heightened concern for Callahan and his department. South Street, for instance, poses a high risk to pedestrians when crossing outside of crosswalks, he said
“When crossing South Street, please use the designated crosswalks by the Epstein Building or the Linsey Pool or the Squire Bridge,” said Callahan in his campus wide email.
The Squire Bridge, erected in 1992, stretches over South Street from near the Psychological Counseling Center to Gosman Sports and Convocation Center. The designated crosswalks at the Epstein and Linsey also provide a safe manner of crossing, particularly at night. They feature flashing lights that tell vehicles to stop and allow a pedestrian to cross safely.
Students raised concerns about areas on campus in addition to South Street. When classes let out, a line of cars is often held up while a crowd of students cross the street in front of the Rabb Steps. “In front of Rabb, sometimes [drivers] are really impatient with pedestrians crossing, so they’re kind of like, inching up. They’re super close to the crosswalk. Sometimes people are speeding and they have to stop really abruptly,” Adriem Ortiz ’16 said.
Often, between Usdan and the entrance to East Quad, large delivery trucks block sight lines for pedestrians crossing. “Where the trucks are, it’s a blind spot. You can’t see if any cars are coming. You need to make sure that no car is speeding down,” said Fatma Siddique ’18.
Pedestrian safety is often in the hands of the pedestrian, according to Callahan. Distractions may decrease the chance of a safe crossing. In an email to The Hoot he wrote, “Pedestrians are looking at their electronic devices while walking and not paying attention to vehicular traffic, which may present safety concerns.”
Yael Jaffe ’18 echoed Callahan’s concern for distracted crossing. “People are on their phones when they cross the street,” she said. A lack of caution has also generated concern for Selena Livas ’16. “I’ve noticed people cross the street, not really paying attention to cars,” Livas said.
Distracted pedestrians are something that student drivers on campus have learned to look out for, said Ortiz. “Sometimes even when I’m driving, [students] come to cross the street and they don’t see me coming because they’re on their cellphones, so I have to stop as well,” he said.
Roadway safety is being addressed in multiple ways on campus. At peak pedestrian crossing times, students have noticed public safety officers directing traffic. “There’s a crosswalk that takes you from the SCC down toward the Village and the cars go pretty fast there. Crossing guards have helped, though they’re not always there, so … you have to be conscientious when crossing streets,” said Amy Clark ’19.
Callahan has implemented other measures to increase the roadway safety. “At the beginning of the academic year, we repainted all campus crosswalks and placed portable ‘yield to pedestrian’ signs at heavily used crosswalks to enhance safety,” said Callahan in his campus-wide email. When asked about the effectiveness of the yield signs, Callahan responded, “The portable signs do work to advise oncoming vehicles of pedestrians.”