Editorial: The Crossings need a crosswalk

"The Whit Staff believes there should be another crosswalk on Mullica Hill Road. Specifically, the stretch between the student center and The Crossings apartment complex." - Graphic / Jadyn Beyer 

We would like to offer a small peak behind the curtain. As journalists, we report on a lot of different things and have to keep them in our minds as we work. We think about relevance, impact, and the exigence of a particular issue. At times, we broaden the scope of things, making sure we appeal to the whole community– perhaps even several different communities. 

This is not one of those times. Far from it, in fact. This editorial is about a narrow issue that affects a handful of people, asking for a focused solution that alleviates a small inconvenience. 

The Whit Staff believes there should be another crosswalk on Mullica Hill Road. Specifically, the stretch between the student center and The Crossings apartment complex. 

More specifically, there should be a crosswalk in front of the parking lot near Ciconte’s Pizza (Parking Lot F), connecting that and Yale Road North. 

Now, it would be understandable to misinterpret this as a need for multiple crosswalks, or more crosswalks around campus generally. For this editorial, we focus our attention on these specific areas because the lack affects many students living off-campus. A notable number of students live in off-campus housing in that neighborhood, and this would benefit them greatly. 

Let’s say that, hypothetically, you live on Hamilton Road– a thirty-second walk downhill from the lot. You need to cross Mullica Hill Road to get to wherever you’re going. Again, hypothetically speaking, it’s a class in James Hall, room 205, at 2:00 p.m., during a period of heavy afternoon traffic. 

When you reach the area in question, you are faced with two options: first, walk to your left to reach the crosswalk by the traffic light on Joseph L. Bowe Road. The first, very small, problem is that it’s actively walking away from your destination— adding more time to your commute. The second, much bigger, problem is that you have to walk in the bike lane to do so because there’s no sidewalk. I hope it’s self-explanatory that practically walking on the street toward oncoming traffic is unsafe, especially during rush hour. Not to mention the fact that generally speaking, pedestrians are not permitted to do this. 

The second option is to walk to the right until you reach the crosswalk in front of Bozorth Hall. Again, there’s the issue of time,  the issue of safety, and also ease of execution. To do this you must pass a busy intersection, walk over active train tracks, through the long patch of grass in front of the townhouses, and then briefly back into the bike lane. 

Nobody in this scenario is taking either of these options, because they’re taking the third one: sitting in front of Mullica Hill Road, watching the cars going by and waiting for an opening to cross. This takes several minutes under the best circumstances, and there are several reasons why this isn’t ideal. To the left, you have people speeding up after crossing the green light. To the right, the road dips downhill, making it impossible to see if a car is coming from that direction, so you walk in the bike lane until you reach the tracks– in front of the business building–to get the best vantage point. While it would be wrong to assume everyone in the community is guilty of this, Glassboro drivers are often erratic and frequently ignore the already existing pedestrian infrastructure.

Additionally, while this can be avoided with basic physical awareness, it is hypothetically quite easy to misjudge the distance and speed of a vehicle and time your crossing incorrectly. And in this scenario, you are jaywalking. It’s not a serious crime, you won’t get locked up, but it’s a silly and dangerous thing to have to do, and if you happen to be struck by a vehicle, it would probably be your fault. Of course, drivers have a moral obligation to be aware of their surroundings and avoid hitting people, but legally and practically speaking, you would likely be the one in the wrong. 

Now, this issue could be alleviated with more policing of the traffic in this area, perhaps something as simple as a crossing guard. But that introduces issues of staffing, scheduling, and officer safety, and to be honest, it isn’t a given that the people in charge of such a thing would find that necessary in the first place.

This conundrum would best be alleviated by a crosswalk, identical to the ones in front of the student center, with a button you can press to flash the blinking lights, alerting drivers of your presence. 

In fact, there’s something like this already. In the area in front of the townhouses, there’s a set of big, flashing yellow lights next to a “pedestrian crossing” sign hanging high above the road. This is a good band-aid solution. It is also a quiet admission from someone who participated in the design of this area that they were aware of the issue. Why have a giant blinking light that tells you that pedestrians are crossing where pedestrians shouldn’t be crossing? Why have the implication of a crosswalk when you can just have a crosswalk? 

On its face, this is trivial. Petty, even. But it’s a microcosm of a much bigger problem in society: ostensibly walkable communities– intended to accommodate large portions of their population who don’t have personal vehicles– designed in such a way that is not only different but at times, actively hostile to said population. This country was designed for cars, not for pedestrians. Fine. College campuses are one of the few areas where this hierarchy ought to be reversed. 

And for the most part, Rowan University passes this test. It’s not perfect, of course. Traffic fatalities are still relatively common. Some of the Whit staff discovered many instances of this when we were working on our Centennial Edition of the paper with incidents dating as far back as the 1970s. It’s about time we finish the job. 

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