When I was a Drexel student ten years ago, there was a traffic light on Chestnut Street in front of the cafeteria and with it, a crosswalk. That crosswalk was heavily used by students to go between the Quad and MacAllister Hall, the cafeteria, the Creese Student Center, and other places of interest in that area.
When Chestnut Square was being built, that traffic light and crosswalk were removed, but the ghost of that convenient crossing for pedestrians remains today. A sign at the very spot where the old crosswalk existed now urges pedestrians to use the crosswalks on either end of the block but is largely ignored. Many Drexel students and faculty still duck out from between cars there and make a run for it across Chestnut Street every day.
While jaywalking is a part of life in Philadelphia, the massive amount of people crossing illegally at this section of Chestnut Street is particularly hazardous. It’s like a game of Frogger. Some students take the risk and run across as traffic is coming. Others get to the middle lane and then decide to backtrack. The cars parked on the street cannot pull out of their parking spaces when the road is clear without having to yield to the pedestrians darting out behind and in front of their vehicles. And once they do pull out, there’s the inevitable student running across the road a few feet ahead. It is a miracle someone has not been hit by a car yet in this area considering how much traffic comes through this stretch of Chestnut Street every day.
The university should recognize the loss of the crosswalk in the middle of the block between 32nd and 33rd Street as a safety hazard for the Drexel community.There are some pro-active measures the school can take to make crossing Chestnut Street easier. First, it could be more forceful about making sure students cross at the existing (and less convenient) crosswalks on either end of the block. Second, it could work with the city to put a crosswalk where the original one once existed. At least there would then be a designated place for students to cross in that area instead of the current chaos. Additionally, Drexel could build a bridge over Chestnut Street similar to how the University of Pennsylvania has one over 38th Street. This would probably be expensive, but it would keep both traffic and students moving freely. Finally, the university could do nothing and wait for that inevitable day when someone gets hurt. I hope that Drexel won’t choose the final option.
Lori Becker is an alumni of Drexel University. She can be contacted at [email protected].