BIG RAPIDS – Ferris State University’s Pedestrian Safety Task Force has taken some initial steps to make the crosswalks on State Street more visible to drivers but continues to explore a number of other solutions to improve pedestrian safety through education efforts, behavior change and physical improvements in and around campus.
Most recently task force member Pam Augustine, traffic engineer with the Michigan Department of Transportation, coordinated the placement of pedestrian signs to identify crosswalks on State Street, beginning at the south end of campus at Knollview Drive near the Ewigleben Sports Complex and continuing north to Morrison Street by Burger King.
“This was something immediate and cost effective that we could do to call drivers’ attention to crosswalks in high traffic areas along State Street. The signs are yellow with a picture of a pedestrian and an arrow pointing down to the crosswalk. Our intention is to make drivers aware that they are approaching a crosswalk and to encourage them to slow down and be more observant that pedestrians may be in the vicinity,” Augustine said.
Augustine is one of 15 members of FSU’s Pedestrian Safety Task Force, chaired by Vice President for Administration and Finance Jerry Scoby. The task force was formed in November 2009 upon the recommendation of the Strategic Planning and Resource Council, and a continuing university-wide concern to improve the safety of students, employees and guests who are walking or driving on campus.
Since November, the task force has met regularly to discuss ways to further improve pedestrian safety. They have reviewed pedestrian and vehicular traffic sections of the campus master plan, the history of improvements made by the Traffic Safety Team formed in 2003, an inventory of all crossings and the number of pedestrian accidents on or through campus during the last five years.
They also have sought university-wide input by holding three open forums and by posting a discussion tab on Facebook and a “question of the day” on a bulletin board in the Starr Building.
In addition to these activities, Scoby said a comprehensive study of campus intersections and crosswalks prepared by Student Government has been very helpful to the task force in identifying problem areas and possible solutions.
“Student Government president and task force member Claire Gould and the Campus Affairs Committee did an outstanding job in taking a comprehensive look at campus pedestrian safety. They studied more than 40 areas on campus, providing the locations and descriptions of crosswalks with accompanying photos, comments and recommendations for improvements. The 26-page report was very well done and has been extremely helpful to task force members in prioritizing improvements,” Scoby said.
“The safety of pedestrians was a concern voiced by students to the Student Government and is an ongoing concern. The report prepared by our Campus Affairs Committee identified what they thought were unsafe locations to include those areas that have inadequate signage or poor traffic routing and what changes could be made to better serve our students,” Gould said.
The task force is nearing completion of its work in hopes of having a draft report prepared by mid-March. They will seek input from an engineering firm the university has partnered with in the past before forwarding the report to the president.
Other task force members include Andy Karafa, Social Sciences department head; Debra Cox, Educational and Career Counseling department head; Frank West, Big Rapids Public Safety director; John Linnen, assistant professor of Mathematics; Mark Van Lent, counselor; Marty Bledsoe, FSU Public Safety director; Mike Hughes, associate vice president of Physical Plant; Mike Mignano, golf coach; Nick Greenway, DPS officer; Bob Eastley, Construction Management faculty; Shelly Armstrong, associate vice president of Marketing and Communications; and Travis Cervantez, Student Government representative.