New signs say 'stop' at campus crosswalks

New signs say 'stop' at campus crosswalks

URBANA — Drivers on the University of Illinois campus may have noticed new signs at pedestrian crosswalks ordering drivers to stop rather than yield.

About 50 such crosswalks in the campus district in both Champaign and Urbana are getting a makeover thanks to a change in wording in existing legislation that became effective recently.

"Where it used to say you must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk, it now says you will stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk," UI police Lt. Skip Frost said of the verbiage modification.

That change has meant that the yellow signs that said yield are being replaced with white signs that have a red stop sign on them.

Morgan Johnston, the UI's transportation demand coordinator, said the campus signs are being repainted at a cost of about $5,000. The city of Champaign invested another $1,000 in new signs.

In addition to the recast signs, the crosswalks now have solid lines painted on the street that indicate a driver should stop as opposed to the set of triangles used for yield. The work began about a month ago and is almost completed, she said.

Frost said there is understandable confusion but tried to simplify.

"If there are no pedestrians in a crosswalk, you do not have to stop. If pedestrians are standing on a curb, they are not in the crosswalk," he said.

Safety is foremost, Frost said, and courtesy by both drivers and pedestrians should rule, he suggested.

"Pedestrian safety is first and foremost on a campus such as ours. However, it eventually comes down to common sense and abiding by the law as it is written. If it's a yield or a stop crosswalk, pedestrians need not to leave a curb or other place of safety when it's unwise to do so. And we need drivers to slow down and show courtesy to those on foot or bicycle," he said.

Frost said the use of ear buds and cell phones by pedestrians is certainly "not prohibited but not smart."

"My tag line for the past 10 years has been that anything that distracts you from arriving safely at your destination, whether you are driving, walking, skate boarding or using a golf cart — if you are not paying attention or are distracted by any device, be it cell phone or iPod, you are causing yourself and others to be less safe. We've seen it time and time again. There have been tragedies and if people don't realize how dangerous that activity can be, there are going to be other tragedies," said the veteran campus police officer.

Frost said his officers and the office of the dean of students hammer home such safety tips to students, particularly at freshman orientation sessions.

Frequently, he said, it's the students' parents hearing the lecture and not the students.

"No matter how good a job we do, ultimately it's individual responsibility," he said.

"There are three E's: engineering, education and enforcement. We're doing good job with bump outs, and signs. We educate people on how to keep themselves safe. We will cite people for violating pedestrian safety, behaving unsafely on a bicycle or in vehicle. We have to enforce it or we won't be successful," he said.

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MrSanchez wrote on July 24, 2011 at 9:07 am

Hey folks, here is another law that will make criminals out of all of us who have to drive cars around the university or other high pedestrian areas. It is impossible to wait for many crosswalks to be completely clear before proceeding through with a car. Pedestrian traffic is so congested that a person must go when an opening is available. Also, I fail to see how this law is going to be obeyed in areas like downtown Chicago when traffic is usually backed up for blocks if not miles with people needing to turn at intersections when pedestrian traffic is always excessive allowing no opportunities for a clear intersection. Basically, it’s one more law making criminals out of all of us, giving law enforcement another reason to control, harass, beat, and occasionally shoot us if we do not comply. Go Illinois!

xb wrote on July 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

This law took effect ONE YEAR ago, and has been aggressively enforced and ticketed in downtown Chicago since then. It is only now that we are apparently getting around to repainting signs here for some reason.

Mike wrote on July 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

Someone still needs to explain to me how "stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk" is different than "yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk." Doesn't "yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk" mean STOP FOR THEM?

This seems to be a huge waste of money, and is only going to cause confusion. Just the other day I was behind a car that stopped at Sixth and Daniel when there were no pedestrians in sight. Campustown drivers are bad enough already--adding this level of confusion is silly, and I can't possibly see that it is going to make life safer for any of the students walking around with their iPods turned all the way up--completely oblivious to the rest of the world.

Molly1 wrote on July 24, 2011 at 12:07 pm

This really comes back to the lack of enforcement on the jay walking pedestrians, especially on campus.

The old song could easily fix the problem.

"Stop, look and listen,
before you cross the street.
Use your eyes, use your ears,
then use your feet."

If a pedestrian sees that there are motor vehicles at, or approaching the crosswalk, they need to wait.

Even if I have a walk light, and it is my turn to cross, I walk with a purpose, expediently to allow the drivers as much of an opportunity to move as possible. Too many times, I see people 'dilly dallying' across the street, like they are on a stroll in the woods.

There is only one exception for waiting for an appropriate crossing opportunity in Illinois law, and that is if the pedestrian is blind and carrying a white cane. Then all vehicles shall stop even if the pedestrian didn't wait for an opening in traffic.

Enforce the laws that already exist, and not create more, ineffective, costly laws, that DON'T WORK!!

xb wrote on July 26, 2011 at 11:07 am

>>If a pedestrian sees that there are motor vehicles at, or approaching the crosswalk, they need to wait.

No, if they are at the crosswalk stopped it is time to cross. If they are approaching in the distance and have plenty of time to stop, it is time to cross. If you can't cross without risk of being imminently hit, they need to wait.

Molly1 wrote on July 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I am not certain which state's law you are refering to, but that is not the law in Illinois.

Pay pariclular attention to (625 ILCS 5/11‑1002) and (625 ILCS 5/11‑1003), but to summarize if you don't want to read the full laws:

1102a says that IF there are no signals, and IF the pedestrian is on the drivers half of the road, or is on the other half of the road and approaching the driver's half of the road, the the driver needs to stop.

1102b says pedestrians need to not walk or run into traffic into the path of a moving vehicle...

1102c says that if 1102b is ignored, that 1102a doesn't apply. So if you walk or run into traffic the driver doesn't have fault if they hit you.

1103 says that if you are crossing at an area that is not designated as a crosswalk, you have to yield to all vehicle traffic, and if the street has two adjacent intersections with signals, the pedestrian must use one of the provided crosswalks.

But please read the official law online....

Molly1 wrote on July 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

In case my link is too long, and doesn't work, or if someone wants to look up other Illinois laws, here is the link to the entire database.

Traffic is located in Chapter 625.

poudresteve wrote on July 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I work on campus, and see people jaywalking all of the time, so I understand drivers' frustration. However, drivers should also not expect to barrel through the U of I campus area at freeway speeds, either, which it seems many drivers do. I've been almost hit a number of times in crosswalks where drivers either don't check when turning right on red or just fly through occupied crosswalks. The point that it's "impossible" for drivers to wait for pedestrians just means you are impatient, buddy. If you don't want to wait for pedestrians, take an alternate route. There are plenty of traffic-free routes in this town unlike downtown Chicago.

I think short of putting actual stop signs at every crosswalk, these signs are the only way we can get cars to stop for pedestrians on campus (along with more traffic cops - I'd bet the cost of these signs could be paid for in a week of targeted enforcement).

I've also long thought that they should close Green Street to through traffic (make it dead end at Goodwin on the east and at the Illini Union driveway on the west). Putting some more green space there (no pun intended) would get rid of noise pollution, make the campus much prettier, and would get rid of that ugly drag strip that is dangerous for both pedestrians and bicyclists. Springfield is only 1 block north.

Molly1 wrote on July 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I agree that it shouldn't be a drag strip either. The interstate, and yeah, Springfield or Florida will take you around the majority of pedestrian traffic, but sometimes you have to drive through.

But drivers shouldn't have to wait for a string of 50 kids to walk out of a class, and each walk individually across the street either, listening to an i-pod in one ear, and the cell phone plastered to the other.

Blocking a city street for the purpose of allowing a minority of the population to jay walk and travel indifferently isn't really an answer either though. That makes as much sense as dropping the 4 lane roads down to three. Sure this allows room for a bike lane, which is a good thing, but it means that one slow vehicle can create a blockade that holds up individuals wishing to drive the speed limit. Blocking off the road would also hurt businesses on Green from getting customers and deliveries, require handicapped and all visitors to travel greater distances without an auto, and remove a lot of parking spaces as well.

All so that a few can be oblivious to safe, and legal, crossing of streets?

RamaSita wrote on July 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

The U of I should take some of the money they spent on these signs and build overhead bridge crossings. This would create a safer campus and help alleviate some of the vehicle congestion. These bridges are commonly used on campuses in the south and are beloved.
One major problem I experience at the UI campus is directly outside Uni High where the kids just blindly speed into the crosswalks on their bikes or skates. They seem to be unable to understand that cars are not automatically stopping at these crossings. They don't pause and wait for traffic to stop, they are just continuing on from riding, not stopping to consider vehicular traffic. There will be a horrible wreck involving these students if someone does not better inform them of what they are meant to do at these crossings.

Molly1 wrote on July 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm

That is a wonderful suggestion, if we could get people to use them.

Too lazy to stop and look both ways, would they walk an extra half a block to use a bridge? I'm not sure.

But this could be an option, if the pedestrians could be 'convinced' to use them via better enforcement of jay walking laws.

acs wrote on July 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm

Oh this is a brilliant idea, a stop sign that you don't need to stop at. That won't confuse people at all...

Seriously, "yield to pedestrians" means to stop if there are pedestrians present, and go if there are not pedestrians present. That's what "yield" has always meant, and that's still what the law requires drivers to do. So why are we changing the signs when the law hasn't changed, and why are we putting up stop signs when drivers aren't required to stop? Absolute nonsense.

gcziko wrote on July 25, 2011 at 8:07 am

So now we have four types of stop signs in Illinois:

1. Simple stop sign. Should mean stop and wait until it is safe to proceed. You do not have the right of way.

2. All-way stop sign. Should have "all-way" plaque underneath. Stop and then proceed in turn. First come, first served. But some of these all-way stop signs are lacking the plaque, making them look like no. 1 above.

3. Stop sign with "cross-traffic does not stop." That's very clear. But isn't that what no. 1 (simple stop sign) is supposed to mean? Use of this added information creates some confusion about simple stop signs.

4. LIttle stop sign in "Stop here to peds." Stop only if pedestrians are in the crosswalk. Don't stop otherwise.

So now when you see a stop sign, it's often not clear if the cross-traffic is stopping or not, or if you even have to stop at all.

Combining this proliferation of different kinds of stop signs with increasingly distracted drivers is likely going to cause more crashes.

Things would be most clear if:
1. All all-way stop signs were clearly marked a such.
2. All "cross traffic does not stop" information was removed.
3. We go back to Yield signs in the pedestrian signs.

wantsthetruth wrote on July 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm

For my family personally, we won't patronize anything on campus. The last time I was on campus, over 2 years ago, while students were there I had 4 students walk between parked cars talking on their cellphones oblivious to the outside world. I vowed then to never go back.

sahuoy wrote on July 30, 2011 at 4:07 am

I see NG deleted my comment again... another violation of the first amendment being abused by the GOP/TEA PARTY. In essence, it is now more confusing than ever to navigate safely across campus. At first, most will be safe but as time continues I expect more will be sorrily hurt as pedestrians and cars play he saw she saw leaving both parties in conflict by their insurance and common sense.

I can no longer support the U of I in any way possible when it has now become obvious that safety of everyone takes a back seat to profits. U of I, build some cross bridges and install some new traffic lights. An education at your institution is not worth dying for... or is it?

Sid Saltfork wrote on July 30, 2011 at 12:07 pm

How about building a Big Fence around it? No Entry unless you attend the university, or work there. Same applies to those exiting except employees. That would keep them safe; but they would probably complain about it. It is not just campus. People walk in front of vehicles all over the community. The "Pedestrian Has the Right of Way" over motorized vehicles, AND bicycles. Try dodging the bicyclists on campus. The basic issue is that we as a nation no longer extend courtesy to others. We want to get some where fast because we left late. We want to walk, bike, or drive anywhere we want at any time we want. The rules apply to someone else; not us.