Students petition for stoplight east of Notre Dame
SOUTH BEND, Nov 16, 2012 (South Bend Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
University of Notre Dame students are circulating a petition asking that a stoplight be placed at an intersection east of campus that has been the scene of two recent bicycle-vehicle crashes, including one involving a Transpo bus.
Meanwhile, St. Joseph County and university officials are discussing installing a new type of traffic control device -- known as a HAWK beacon -- at that intersection.
No serious injuries occurred, but Notre Dame senior Ramon Yip says he is grateful he wasn't seriously injured during the Nov. 1 crash when he was struck by a bus while riding his bike across Twyckenham Road at the three-way intersection with Vaness Street.
"It was kind of my fault," Yip said of the accident, which occurred about 9:30 p.m.
Yip said he was riding his bike back to his apartment east of campus. It was dark and Yip said he started across Twyckenham without noticing a bus approaching. "By the time I saw the bus, it was almost too late," he said.
The bus driver swerved, but the front bumper struck Yip and his bike, knocking him to the pavement.
Yip said he had a badly bruised elbow and his knee got scraped on the pavement. He visited the Notre Dame Student Health Center and an immediate care clinic, but suffered no broken bones.
A police officer patrolling nearby at the time of the crash stopped and took an accident report.
About 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7, Notre Dame senior Monica O'Hearn also was riding her bike from campus across Twyckenham to her apartment.
She had biked up to the crosswalk and stopped, then a southbound motorist stopped, honked and motioned for her to cross the street, O'Hearn said. As she started to ride across, she suddenly saw a southbound car approaching in the near lane.
It was too late, and the near-lane car struck the back of her bike, O'Hearn said. "The force of the impact threw me off the bike into the road," she said. She still has bruises, but suffered no broken bones.
O'Hearn's roommate, Notre Dame senior Karen Allen, has launched an online petition asking that a stoplight be installed at the intersection.
Traffic on Twyckenham has the right of way. Travelers approaching Twyckenham on Vaness have a stop sign.
There is a crosswalk painted across Twyckenham and a button pedestrians and bicyclists may push to turn on a flashing yellow light at the crosswalk, but few push the button.
Under Indiana code, a rapid intermittent flashing yellow light means a motorist may proceed through the intersection with caution.
"There have been times when I've been crossing that intersection and I wasn't sure the traffic was going to stop," Allen said. "Even if the light is flashing, a lot of cars don't stop."
Allen and other students also say the intersection should be illuminated with better overhead lights. The petition is available online at: www.change.org/petitions/university-of-notre-dame-put-a-stoplight-at-the-crosswalk-at-vaness-and-twyckenham. By Thursday, it had more than 210 signatures.
Notre Dame and St. Joseph County leaders are discussing ways to make the intersection safer. "Pedestrian safety has always been a top priority," said Tim Sexton, the university's associate vice president for student affairs. "What is there now is just not working."
Twyckenham's traffic load isn't high enough to meet the Indiana Department of Transportation threshold to install a traditional traffic signal at the three-way intersection, county engineer Jessica Clark said.
She said a better approach might be installation of a HAWK beacon -- which stands for High-intensity Activated crossWalK. It's a new-style signal designed to stop traffic and allow pedestrians to cross safely. It's known generically as a pedestrian hybrid beacon.
When a pedestrian or bicyclist pushes a button at an intersection, a HAWK beacon first flashes yellow, then displays steady yellow, and finally steady red. While it's red, motor vehicles must stop and pedestrians have the right of way.
To watch a video of a HAWK beacon in Tempe, Ariz., see: www.youtube.com/watch v=x92c5SHc8yM. "For the technology that is available for pedestrian safety, I'd say this is the top of the line," Clark said.
Notre Dame may finance installation of a HAWK beacon at Twyckenham-Vaness, possibly in spring 2013, St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners President Andy Kostielney said. HAWK beacons also are being considered for crosswalks that would be constructed on a new Douglas Road if Notre Dame gains approval to close existing Douglas and build a new four-lane roadway north of campus, he said.
Road safety rules are regularly violated by traffic along both Twyckenham and Vaness.
Vehicles along Twyckenham often travel faster than the 40 mph posted speed limit. And a Tribune reporter observing traffic at the intersection Tuesday saw a series of bicyclists on Vaness cross Twyckenham without stopping or even slowing down at the stop sign.
As more students and campus employees move into apartments, condos and other housing that has been constructed east of campus, the number of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing Twyckenham is increasing. St. Joseph County police say three collisions have been reported at the intersection since Jan 1, including one injury accident. No collisions were reported there during 2011.
Follow me @mfosmoe
Staff writer Margaret Fosmoe:
___ (c)2012 the South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) Visit the South Bend
Tribune (South Bend, Ind.) at www.southbendtribune.com Distributed by MCT
[ Back To Technology News's Homepage ]