Adding sidewalks. Defined spaces and rules for skateboarding. Creating bike lanes.
These were just some of the ideas that students, faculty and staff made last week at the Campus Forums on Vehicle, Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety. Held before and after the quarterly Pizza with the Presidents, the forums allowed members of the campus community to share their safety concerns and suggest possible solutions to improve safety.
The forums were held after communication student Ivan Aguilar was struck and killed by a motorist on Feb. 28 while riding his bicycle on Kellogg Drive. A moment of silence was held during the forums in Aguilar’s memory.
Alex Bouroukis, an architecture student, said the university had a responsibility to hold the forum after the accident.
“It’s necessary that this is occurring,” he said.
Staff, administrators and student leaders set up information tables for various topics: the campus master plan; information on Rideshare services; pathways and lighting; pedestrian, bicycle, vehicle and skateboarding safety; and safety education. They answered questions, provided information and jotted down suggestions on presentation boards set up on easels.
A number of students said they found the forums helpful.
“I think this is a great idea because sometimes people don’t know how to voice their opinions,” said Chris Zeleya, a mechanical engineering student.
Mike Abifarah, biology student, said the forum helps give students a sense of community that they belong to the campus and that together, they can help improve it.
“This is why we get our degrees – so we can have a part in our community. When you become a doctor, you want to help the community. When you become a lawyer, you help the community. When you become an engineer, you help the community,” Abifarah said. “In the end, it’s always about the community. I think that’s something good to establish here at the university.”
Campus administrators are expected to share key findings from the forums next month.
Whatever solutions are created, students acknowledged that everyone needs to take a measure of responsibility, whether they are driving, skateboarding, walking or bicycling.
“As humans you should have the decency to respect that others are walking and don’t know you’re going 30 mph,” Bouroukis said. “[But] I wouldn’t want it to be highly regimented. I like free spaces.”
Traffic safety could be improved if motorists would pay attention while driving, Zeleya said.
“We need to be more aware of cyclists and pedestrians,” he said.
(Photo:Diego Castro and David Gonzalez talk with Planner Julie Tsang about the campus master plan during Traffic Safety Forum before Pizza with the Presidents.)