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Susan Williams
University Communications

Last modified: Monday, August 30, 2010

Heads up! 'Get Street Smart'

Aug. 30, 2010

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Heads up out there! The Indiana University Police Department and the Bloomington Police Department are joining forces to remind pedestrians, drivers and cyclists to "Get Street Smart" this fall as they negotiate crowded, busy streets around and on the IU Bloomington campus.

Get Street Smart is a campaign aimed at improving traffic and pedestrian safety, especially around the areas of three midblock crosswalks -- two installed just last spring on Fee Lane and a new one on 10th Street at the Kelly School of Business undergraduate building. The Fee Lane and 10th Street area has a particularly high amount of foot and vehicular traffic.

"We are combining resources with those of the Bloomington Police Department in the first week of classes for an educational and enforcement effort aimed at pedestrian safety and especially at using midblock crosswalks correctly," said Keith Cash, interim chief of the IU Police Department. "IUPD and BPD will be in the Fee Lane area passing out educational pamphlets to pedestrians about how to use the crosswalks. We're mainly focusing on education at this time, but if we see a flagrant violation, we'll also issue warnings or perhaps even tickets. And we'll be watching for speeding vehicles."

Cash noted that typical midblock crosswalks are ambiguous in terms of giving clear right-of-way to either pedestrians or vehicles. "Indiana law gives pedestrians the right-of-way only when they enter a zone that is clearly marked as such," he said. "But there are restrictions. Pedestrians cannot suddenly step off the curb or another place of safety into traffic if a vehicle does not have time to stop. At all other times, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to a vehicle. The three new midblock crosswalks are designed to clearly show when the right-of-way exists and allow the police to write tickets."

A general rule of thumb, said Cash, is that if a vehicle has entered the white painted area known as the "Shark's Teeth" preceding the crosswalk, it is too late for a pedestrian to cross safely.

Traffic safety at IU Bloomington is a campus issue, but the streets that generate the majority of safety concerns are city streets. Any changes to the streets must be made by the city of Bloomington. "With the addition of the two new crosswalks installed last spring and a third recently installed, it's important that we educate pedestrians, cyclists and drivers as to the laws that apply," said Bloomington Chief of Police Michael Diekhoff. "Having been involved in the planning for pedestrian safety, we're glad to work with IUPD in this effort."

Get Street Smart was first introduced last spring to raise awareness of the first two crosswalks which were installed on Fee Lane, one near McNutt Quad and another between two Kelley School of Business buildings -- the undergraduate building and the Godfrey Graduate and Executive Education Center. This year's campaign includes information on campus Web sites, Facebook and Twitter messaging, media advertising, posters, bus placards and chalking. Handouts will be provided to students in buildings near the crosswalk areas -- Kelley School of Business, SPEA, the Psychology Building, and Foster, McNutt and Briscoe Quads -- as well as along major walkways.

The Get Street Smart poster emphasizes five basic rules:

  • Use the campus crosswalks that have been added for your safety. If you cross elsewhere, you may not have the right-of-way.
  • Obey traffic signs and signals. Please choose safety over shortcuts.
  • Lay off the cell or iPod when crossing. If it interferes with your ability to pay attention to your surroundings, don't do it.
  • Make your intention to cross known. When a vehicle approaches the cross walk, make eye contact with the driver before proceeding.
  • Look left, then right, then left again before crossing to make sure all lanes of traffic are clear. Just like you learned in kindergarten.

IU Bloomington consists of more than 40,000 students and 8,000 faculty and staff. Approximately 11,000 students live on campus, with many others within walking or biking distance.