The Colorado College campus’ main drag, Cascade Avenue, will see some major changes this spring when the city begins construction to merge the two lanes into a single lane. The city plans to merge the lanes as well as lower the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph. This single lane cutting through campus will mean that students will only cross one lane instead of two smaller lanes. Because of this, the college is reducing the four crosswalks on Cascade to two longer crosswalks without the flashing lights currently there. The single-lane road will free up space for a bike lane and a parking lane down the main road.
Senior City Traffic Engineer Kathleen Krager told the Gazette that she believes “the two crosswalks will be safer because students will cross one lane of traffic instead of two.” Sophomore Anna Stern, however, disagrees. She believes that with only two crosswalks, “people aren’t going to be vigilant enough, so actually more people will get hit.” Reducing the number of crosswalks may lead to more jaywalking instead of safer crossing. The college has been working to reduce pedestrian accidents through education initiatives like the variety of videos starring mascot Prowler displayed across campus. In these dramatized videos, Prowler doesn’t listen to traffic signs and is hit, but students are rather dubious about the videos’ efficacy. Sophomore Belle Durkin sees the videos as “kind of jokey, so I don’t think anyone takes them too seriously,” she said. This kind of view is widespread despite the college’s concerted and well-intentioned efforts to increase crosswalk safety.
The Colorado College website shows accident reports and traffic plans from no later than 2013, but official discussions began in 2016 when a student was hit by a car and dragged 40 feet down the road. In the Colorado College Transportation Master Plan from 2013, eight bicycle- or pedestrian-related vehicular accidents occurred between 2000 and 2012 on the Cascade Avenue crosswalks; this relatively low number is contradictory to a Gazette report which states that in 2015 alone, four students were hit crossing Cascade Avenue. The college has not made vehicular accident reports easily accessible from the website aside from the Transportation Master Plans.
Safety concerns aside, the changes to Cascade will drastically affect the campus makeup as well as the flow of students crossing the street, especially during high foot traffic hours before and after classes. Students can expect the construction to begin in early spring; the city isn’t wasting time. Student drivers can expect an easier time getting down Cascade Avenue without the impediment of four crosswalks, and bikers will rejoice in the addition of an easily navigable bike lane to the street. However, it will be interesting to see if students change their course to use the crosswalks or continue to cross at their own discretion.