Driving is a privilege, but within our country, it has been consistently portrayed as more of a right. Everywhere you drive all over the state and in many other places, you see little if any sidewalk at all.
The pedestrian, in this way, has been devalued in our society to the point that in many places, merely crossing not in the lines or running after the countdown clock is already counting down could garner you a ticket.
So, what am I getting at? Pedestrians, in general, are disrespected and disregarded even in walkable neighborhoods. I’m not denying that many pedestrians make drivers understandably angry, but a ton of metal is a dangerous thing to control and we should think of the implications of drivers navigating around pedestrians.
Our campus should be an environment where you can walk between classes (or work) and not have to risk your life to cross the street.
Let me tell you a story: You walk gracefully down the sidewalk on campus and prepare to cross the street and–boom–the car barely seems to notice but manages to screech at a devastating pace to stop. You will almost get hit three or four other times that day due to the lack of care from such drivers.
The speed limit on campus is 18 miles per hour, but that does not seem to curtail the massive amount of speeding that continues to occur. Sometimes one questions if it is even worth crossing the street, even at a moment that you feel safe.
The university is not a race track, and according to university rules, the pedestrian has the right of way. Explicitly, it says “in crosswalks,” though I admit that this tends to be ignored by walkers as well.
People deserve to get to their destination safely, whether the pedestrian or the driver, and adding a few seconds to your drive or simply watching where you are going in order to slow down shouldn’t be that difficult.
This is not to say that pedestrians are not at fault any time, but people should be able to be safe when walking, whether in the crosswalk or not. With this in mind, the university should come together to discuss this problem with pedestrians and drivers and put forth ideas like putting speed bumps or road tables in place.
The pedestrian should always be a priority especially on a college campus where walking is the norm, and, though I commend the university for closing roads more than was expected, conversations should still be held regarding this issue. Even though walking seems to be discouraged in our country due to the sprawl of suburbia and rural communities, Oxford and Ole Miss are different and should be treated as such.
Jonathan Lovelady is a junior economics major from Los Angeles.