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Commentary Relays Edition

Drake’s lack of traffic control leads to near death 

A photo of the intersection of Carpenter Ave and 31st St. Lack of stoplights pits Drake students and passing cars against each other. Photo by Sarah Fey | Staff Photographer

I’m just going to put it as bluntly as possible: The roads around Drake are a death waiting to happen. 

I’ll start with the good parts. There are four traffic lights at each of the four corners of campus: University and 30th; 30th and Forest; Forest and 25th; and 25th and University. Plus, there are additional traffic lights at 30th and Carpenter Avenue by West Village; Forest and 27th; University and 28th; and a crosswalk traffic light on University across from the student parking lot. 

All that is great; it allows for people to cross these busy intersections safely and helps with the heavy flow of traffic that comes through daily. However, people are walking everywhere. People are having to cross the street in more places than just these locations. 

The first popular crosswalk is on Forest Avenue in front of the Knapp Center. There is a crosswalk there but no light or signal of any kind. During big events like basketball games, Des Moines Police do assist with controlling the crosswalk and help guide traffic. 

But unless the Knapp Center is being used for some large event, that crosswalk is dangerous to cross at literally any other time. Trust me, I know. I’ve experienced almost being splattered by a car or bus speeding down Forest with no care for the pedestrian infrastructure (or lack thereof).

I would suggest that one solution is a crosswalk traffic light like the one by Aliber.

Moving on to another busy yet problematic crossing spot: the crosswalks on the block of University and 25th to 26th. These are the ones located on either side of the Home2 Suites hotel going towards campus. 

As opposed to the Knapp Center crossing, both of these crosswalks do have a signal. You press a button, and the signs flash yellow to alert drivers someone is attempting to cross. However, unlike the light across from Aliber, which turns red and acts like a traffic light, cars do not have any legal obligation to stop at the flashing yellow light. In fact, a lot don’t.

While it is a safety feature nonetheless, it’s an irrelevant one if no vehicles obey. Once again, I have found myself still having to dart across the street and almost get hit by cars that just ignore the flashing lights. I know I’m not alone in my near death experiences too.

The only solution I can think of for this one is putting in another crosswalk traffic light. Make it one crosswalk instead of two, add the light that requires cars to stop and make it far more noticeable than a weak little yellow light on the side of the road.

The next major crossing point is crossing Forest right in front of Carpenter Hall. There’s a parking lot there, so it makes sense for students, especially first-years, to cross the street to get there. But get this, there’s not even a crosswalk, let alone any sort of signal to cross.

With cars parked along the street too, lowering visibility, it’s like Drake or the city of Des Moines wants students to come face-to-face with their maker.

This solution is a no-brainer. Firstly, add a crosswalk. Afterwards, add a signal, preferably another traffic light.

I think another factor that plays into the danger of crossing either Forest or University Avenue is the fact that both roads are just straight lines that cars zip down like they’re in the Indy 500. I’m not sure of a solution to this because there are speed limits of 30 mph in place already, but perhaps speed cameras? 

Cars should just not be speeding like they do down those streets when there’s so many pedestrians at all times of the day walking about. 

Finally, the last spots that need to be fixed are the roads by West Village heading towards Greek Street.

The Carpenter and 31st intersection is just stupidly stupid. Whoever decided it to be the way that it is is stupid. It’s stupidly dangerous. Did I mention it’s stupid?

There are two stop signs — to which you may initially be like, “Oh, that’s good!” But no! The stop signs are for cars on Carpenter to stop, and cars coming on 31st have the right of way. This doesn’t make any sense as most people are crossing at 31st, not Carpenter — not to mention that cars can park on the street along 31st, thus limiting visibility to both pedestrians trying to cross and cars stopped at the stop signs. 

Once again, speed is a factor…and let me tell ya, people be zoomin down 31st. Not only have I — once again — been almost hit on multiple occasions, but I have seen other people get almost run over. I have also personally witnessed and heard of multiple car accidents that have occurred in that spot.

Solution? Easy: Make it a 4-way stop as opposed to only two. That way, it forces cars to slow down and allows everyone to cross safely even if visibility is low.

The last spot is the intersection of 32nd and Carpenter. It’s a T-intersection. There isn’t a single stop sign. You read that right, not a single sign at that intersection. You might think the cars coming up Carpenter would stop out of common sense because their road ends (and a lot do), but a lot also just zoom straight through. 

Not to mention that’s a major crossing point for anyone walking to and from Greek Street. That doesn’t stop cars from flying down 32nd, though. Plus, with the addition of cars parked along 32nd, anyone trying to cross has to practically walk into the middle of the road just to see if a car is coming. 

Most of the time, you just cross the street and hope a car doesn’t come along and flatten you like a pancake. 

Solution to that? 3-way stop. Have a painted crosswalk that’s connected right to the Greek path.

There you have it. The problems with the roads around campus and possible solutions. If you walk away from this commentary with anything, let it be this: Pedestrians matter; cars do not. There needs to be more walkable infrastructure, not drivable. 


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