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Safety task force recommends more signs, education

Lauren Clark / Asst. multimedia editor

The Traffic Safety Task Force, formed in the wake of several accidents on campus, has recommended that the university add more signs near crosswalks and begin citing bikers on the Oval in an effort to increase on-campus safety.
A safety message from Jay Kasey, senior vice president of Administration and Planning, and Javaune Adams-Gaston, vice president of Student Life, was emailed to Ohio State students, faculty and staff Tuesday informing them of the safety task force’s recommendations.
The email outlined short-term goals of adopting “a clear and strong set of rules of the road for all modes of transportation” with the hopes of reducing accidents on campus.
Some of the short-term goals are set to be implemented within the next two months.
Adams-Gaston said it will take the university that much time “to make sure that we are creating the right educational materials, make sure we’re getting the signage down in the crosswalks, make sure that we begin to have the conversations in the resident halls and the off-campus area.”
But the recommendations were already more than two weeks late.
Adams-Gaston said although the date set for the suggestion was Oct. 1, there was a three-week window, so the task force was really only about a week past deadline.
“As with any task force you’re working with a group of 35 people, you want to ensure you have the most significant information,” she said. “Then we pass it forward to the president and then we put it out for public presentation.”
Kasey said the university will be making sign changes to “very hazardous crosswalks on High Street” that will be visible to both pedestrians and drivers.
Bicyclists will be required to dismount and walk their bikes across the Oval, according to the email, which will be the first area where certain modes of transportation will be restricted.
“There will not be an enforcement officer on the Oval all the time. There will be periodic checks, there will be reminders, there will be education, and then finally we could cite people who ride their bikes across the Oval,” Kasey said.
Adams-Gaston said citations will be issued to students not following the new regulations. She said there will be some “opportunity for citation without a fee” but then they plan to enforce citations later that will come with a fee.
Kasey said the task force has met with the Department of Public Safety about how and when to start enforcement.
“It won’t be simply we’re writing tickets. It will be educational, getting groups of students, stopping students on bicycles, informing them on what the rules of the road are,” Kasey said. “But eventually, I don’t know if it will be two weeks from now or two months, but it will come that we will write tickets and that will get around quick.
Adams-Gaston said she expects the recommendations will take six months to be fully implemented.
But for one biker, the recommendations weren’t implemented soon enough.
According to the the Columbus Division of Police, there was an accident between a biker and a vehicle near 15th Avenue and High Street Tuesday just after 4:30 p.m.
Chelseay Thomas, second-year in zoology, was coming home from class at about 5:15 p.m. and said the car involved in the accident was still at the scene.
“There was glass in the street, the windshield was all cracked in and there was glass in the car,” she said.
The task force will also begin assessing ways to reduce delivery, maintenance and construction traffic throughout campus, especially in the campus core.
The email also addressed the task force’s long-term goal of creating “a campus culture that is accommodating and respectful of all modes of transportation.”
The email stated that the university will encourage the City of Columbus to evaluate the status of heavily traveled streets such as High Street, and to make efforts to improve the safety of these areas.
Kasey did not know the cost to implement the recommendations.
OSU President E. Gordon Gee charged the group with the task of coming up with measures the university should take to enhance campus safety on Sept. 7.
Safa Salman, a third-year Ph.D. student in electrical engineering, also said the recommendations were too little, too late.
“The question is what else can the administration do that they have not done yet,” she said. “I’m pretty sure signage doesn’t really help.”

Hannah Brokenshire and Ally Marotti contributed to this article.

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