UP increases crosswalk enforcement

Cody Barnes, News Reporter

In a continuing effort to curb jaywalking at UW Oshkosh, the University Police are implementing a four-week pedestrian safety initiative by increasing patrols at crosswalks in high-traffic areas around campus.

The initiative focuses on increasing the safety of students crossing the street by enforcing existing traffic laws at pedestrian crossings. Students will see an increased UP presence particularly at High Avenue by Sage Hall and at Algoma Boulevard in front of Dempsey Hall.

There have been mixed opinions from the campus community regarding the increased enforcement, but UP Lt. Trent Martin said the department received positive feedback from the overall Oshkosh community.

Martin said noncompliant pedestrians often cross intersections around campus regardless of having the right of way as provided by a traffic light, which causes congestion and the potential for an accident to occur.

According to traffic safety laws, pedestrians only have the right of way when crossing signals indicate, and when the right of way signals are not indicating and pedestrians cross, they are in violation.

That violation could cost up to $300 for repeat offenders with the first violation being a stop and ID. During a stop and ID, the pedestrian’s information is recorded, and pedestrians could face a citation for continued offences.

Martin said the initiative is in response to requests made to police for crosswalk safety enforcement.

“We see on a daily basis where pedestrians are following the people in front of them, oftentimes not paying attention to what the crosswalk displays are reading and presuming they always have the right of way,” Martin said.

Martin said the initiative will also help drivers who aren’t entirely sure of what to do when they drive through campus.

“Our department is working on educating those drivers, along with the pedestrians, to help educate on who does have the right of way in those situations,” he said. “Vehicle traffic can also be confused as they see pedestrians stopped at an intersection; the natural instinct is to stop and let the pedestrians cross, even if the pedestrian has a no-cross signal at the crosswalk.”

Martin said it’s important for pedestrians to note that even when a car waves you on and you cross, without the signal, you are in violation and could be subject to a citation.

UWO sophomore Jonny Samp said he doesn’t agree with fining students for jaywalking because students need to cross the street to get to classes on campus.

“I think if a person is really in a rush to get to work, they should take an alternate route around campus, which there are plenty,” Samp said. “There are only two one-way streets that run through campus.”

UWO sophomore Will Cochrane is a commuter student who has to drive around campus regularly.

“It is nice not needing to worry about pedestrians not paying attention to lights,” he said.

UWO sophomore Andrew Haese said when he was living on campus, he did not see the need for crosswalk enforcement, but when he became a commuter, the need became more apparent.

“It’s extremely terrifying when people jaywalk,” he said. “It’s only been a week and a half of class, and I’ve already had to slam on the brakes for numerous people not crossing at a crosswalk.”

The pedestrian safety initiative will be enacted the first four weeks of every semester, but Martin said crosswalk enforcement will continue throughout the year.

“We are dealing with a new population of students each year, so it will be important that everyone is familiar with the laws to prevent the need to issue citations and prevent the potential of anyone being involved in a serious or fatal accident,” he said.

If students are unsure of traffic laws, they should feel free to ask UP officers for clarification on exactly when they have the right of way, Martin noted.

“Please push the buttons at controlled intersections and wait for the signal to legally cross the street,” Martin said. “It’s a pretty simple concept that takes a little bit of patience but can ultimately save your life and save you from the potential of receiving a citation.”