Mason stresses pedestrian safety following Monday's Cambus accident

BY CASSIDY RILEY | MAY 08, 2013 5:00 AM

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In the wake of a recent Cambus accident, University of Iowa President Sally Mason says she wants the university to take a closer look at how to avoid future incidents involving pedestrians on and near campus.

A Cambus struck a 66-year-old pedestrian on Monday morning as he crossed Clinton Street at approximately 8:13 a.m. According to an Iowa City press release, the bus was turning onto Clinton Street from Jefferson Street when the collision happened. This is the second Cambus incident in the last two years.

“I think we do have to revisit these issues frequently and even more frequently than we have been doing in the past because our campus and our community is larger,” Mason told The Daily Iowan on Tuesday.  “And we’re going to have to take a very careful look to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can to ensure the safety of pedestrians as well as the safety of the riders on our Cambus.”

Cambus Director Brian McClatchey said over the years, the campus area has become more populated.

In fact, the student population has risen by more than 1,000 over the past five years. In the fall of 2007, 30,409 students were enrolled at the UI. That number increased to 31,498 in the fall of 2012.

Therefore, McClatchey said, Cambus officials always try to stress safety with drivers by mapping out areas on routes where pedestrian traffic is particularly heavy. He said they explain to drivers exactly how to maneuver the bus in those areas.

He said on certain routes or intersections they may also impose internal speed limits or mandatory stops regardless of whether anyone is in the intersection, such as at the intersection of Clinton and Washington Streets.

“We need to proceed slowly, especially in that area, because things can happen very quickly,” he said.

McClatchey said Cambus officials often monitor the drivers through feedback from the public, formal evaluations, and informal evaluations that bus drivers may be unaware of. He also said they will send evaluators to a location for roughly two hours and watch the buses that drive by and take notes on what they see.

Chuck Green, the assistant vice president of the UI police, said pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility.

“Drivers and pedestrians need to be vigilant to mitigate collisions,” he said.

Green said that in the past, there have been awareness campaigns to promote pedestrian safety as well as enforcement saturations and adjustment to road signs.

“Undoubtedly, this issue will be discussed in upcoming weeks, and we will certainly volunteer our services to help facilitate those discussions on what would be the best approach,” he said.

McClatchey agreed that it should be an effort among pedestrians and drivers to increase the safety around campus. He said there are distractions such as cell phones and iPods that are problematic for the safety of pedestrians crossing a street.

“I think pedestrians sometimes put themselves in a position that they are relying more and more on the operators of the vehicles not making mistakes,” he said. “I think you’ll see that we have pedestrians who will proceed through an intersection essentially just trusting that all the vehicles are going to just do what they’re supposed to do. If the pedestrians and vehicles can work together, they have a greater likelihood of avoiding an accident.”

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