In the March 11, 2016 edition of The Brandeis Hoot, the importance of campus walkways for the use of pedestrians and emergency traffic was discussed, in an article which mentioned the issue of crossing South Street on the west side of Squire Bridge. The bridge is the conduit that is supposed to allow students to safely cross South Street to get to the Gosman athletic complex, but is an unnecessary uphill trek to any person coming from anywhere south of the Science Complex. For convenience, and more importantly pedestrian safety, I believe the university should consider installing an access point to Squire Bridge from the South Street level.
First and foremost, putting up any sort of staircase on the west side of the bridge will do nothing to further interrupt vehicular traffic that poses a threat to inattentive pedestrians. In an email sent to the Brandeis community on Oct. 13, 2015, Chief of Public Safety Ed Callahan noted, “when crossing South Street, please use the designated crosswalks by the Epstein Building or the Linsey Pool or the Squire Bridge.” This was recommended due to the dangers of crossing this road.
The problem with the aforementioned instruction is that these three designated crosswalks are very far away from each other—one is down the road next to the train tracks, the second is the bridge and the third is the crosswalk that leads to the other end of the sports complex and the Mods. The easiest and most open way to leave campus for those south of the Science Complex is the main entrance on the west side of the bridge. The easiest way to get to Gosman after that is to jaywalk across South Street.
Jaywalking across South Street is dangerous not just because the act of jaywalking itself is dangerous, but also because pedestrians are blind to cars approaching from the east, especially at fast speeds. At night, vehicles approaching from either direction have trouble seeing pedestrians. The school does not encourage jaywalking, but pedestrians do it anyway because it is an inconvenience to walk uphill to just walk down the stairs leading to and leading off the bridge.
In lieu of proposing a crosswalk be installed in front of the main entrance to campus, which would complicate traffic patterns with heavy use, I look to start conversation regarding a staircase to Squire Bridge from the ground level. Such an installation would minimize the time spent climbing campus to get to the top of the bridge, especially from those coming from low-lying areas. It is not ideal to have the hassle of climbing a staircase to get to the conduit area, but for those trying to get to Gosman and the fields from low-lying areas, it is a much more appealing option than the crosswalk by the Mods or climbing up campus.
Such an endeavor would also put a dent in reducing the amount of people jaywalking across South Street, which will serve the interest of preserving the safety of the public. Building a staircase will not stop all jaywalkers, but it will be a step in the right direction.
It is not worth it to wait for something to happen to a pedestrian trying to cross South Street to start a discussion on how to rectify the phenomenon of jaywalking.