If you have been following The Lantern this semester, you will have noticed that we have been covering the students involved in accidents this fall.
We saw James Daniel Hughes, a first-year student who was hit by a dump truck on Woodruff Avenue as he was taken away to the Wexner Medical Center in an ambulance, where he remains today.
We have talked to those who know the injured students best: their parents, their brothers, their sisters and their friends.
We’ve heard about their stories of survival, recovery, loss and hope. For those still in the hospital, we call weekly for reports on their conditions. We’ve become invested in their stories and root for their recoveries.
When Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee announced last month the creation of a safety task force, we sat back and waited for a solution. We didn’t know what it would recommend on Oct. 1, but we awaited something that would equate change.
Oct. 1 came and went with no word on those recommendations, no news of change to report.
And on Tuesday, two weeks later than promised, those safety recommendations were announced, and we’re left with one question: What was the point?
The recommendations that arrived in the inbox of students and faculty are underwhelming. The fact that the recommendations are not scheduled to be fully implemented for another six months will make no immediate impact on campus.
Extra signs near crosswalks and making students walk their bicycles on the Oval will not make campus safer. Even those changes aren’t expected to be implemented on campus for another four to six months.
Why the delay?
When six months is up, we will be wrapping up the school year and students will be moving on.
Even now, the August and September accidents are fading from people’s minds. The memory of first-year student who had to leave OSU before she really even got started will be a distant memory.
Many students won’t remember the student who was struck by a High Street bicyclist on Sept. 6, but that doesn’t make her recovery any less important.
These people won’t be thought of every day. We might not be calling to check up on them, people might stop caring.
Which is why we need a real change on campus, one that can’t be achieved by “enhanced signage” or better marked crosswalks.
These suggestions are an insult to the students who have been injured in the campus area. They are unacceptable and more must be done quickly. The task force must try again or take a different approach.
Fixing this safety issue won’t be easy, and there is no easy solution. However, measures can be taken that go above and beyond additional signs. The university could cut back on construction during peak times students are on campus. No improvement is so important that students should be endangered by traffic congestion, pattern changes or industrial equipment. Save the larger tasks for the three-and-a-half month summer break. We know these projects can take months, even years to complete, but we should be planning smarter. No one should have to walk under a crane on their way to class, such as the one that has hovered over people walking by the Mathematics Tower.
Stop trying to narrow the roads. The narrowed roads on Woodruff Avenue are unlikely to encourage anyone to cut back on driving, but instead add more frustration and danger to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists trying to navigate campus.
Focus on the problem that signs can’t fix. It’s easy to put up a sign, but just as easy to ignore one. If a culture change on campus is desired, more than just talking about it needs to happen. Traffic rules need to be enforced by University Police, and not in two, four or six months: we need enforcement now.
What has been suggested is not enough.