Cross the street at a crosswalk, or you might get a ticket.
The University Police Department announced this week it is working with Metropolitan Police to enforce jaywalking laws around campus. The law enforcement agencies are calling the initiative a “pedestrian safety wave,” and plan to increase police presence on streets around campus.
Jaywalking refers to an individual who crosses the street outside of the designated crosswalk.
UPD Chief Dolores Stafford said the education campaign started after she spoke with MPD about a rise in the number of people jaywalking on campus.
“We’ve seen an increase in all individuals (jaywalking), not just students,” Stafford said.
She stressed that the campaign is aimed at making people aware of the dangers of jaywalking and the importance of crossing at crosswalks. She added that crossing at a crosswalk when there is a stop sign is equally dangerous.
“We’re trying to make people aware of the fatalities every year from pedestrians being hit,” she said.
Certain areas of campus are more dangerous than others, Stafford said. For example, at the intersection of 23rd and G streets, one side turns red before the other, allowing for turns on the opposite side, but people may not see this and think that it is safe to cross when it is not.
Stafford said UPD is working with the city to find places for more crosswalks. One area being considered is H Street between Kogan Plaza and the Marvin Center. “We will continue to work with the city to make the streetscape safe,” Stafford said.
MPD representatives told Stafford this fall of their plans to increase efforts to stop jaywalkers. Fines for jaywalking can range from $5 to $20, said MPD lieutenant Philip Lanciano.
He added that officers will likely remind first-time offenders of violations before issuing a fine.
“Personally I and other students do jaywalk – going to class is a priority and you don’t always think about traffic laws,” freshman Pranita Mehta said. She said the campaign will make her more aware of her surroundings if police are present.
“When officers aren’t around, people will (return to their old) routines.”