The streets just outside the front gate of Chung-Ang University are prone to dangers, threatening students as they make their way to the other side of the road. Although some drivers are generous enough to wait for students and other pedestrians, this is not often the case in Huekseok Dong. Most drivers rush to get past the narrow streets, often ignoring students waiting to cross the road. Thus there often arises tension between students and drivers, both hustling to find the perfect timing to end this tug of war. During the short seconds of crossing the road, students are exposed to danger and accidents, some that could even be life threatening. The students are being deprived of the right to safely commute to school.
Positive Changes Come With the New Traffic Light at the Back Gate
Last year, many CAU students raised their voices on the school website’s Community board, demanding the installment of a traffic light alongside the crosswalk at the back gate. Such effort has made possible the actual installment of a traffic light. And with such improvement, students now cross the street without having to worry about impatient drivers, barging their way up the street. The traffic problem at the back gate seems to have found a resolution, with the regulation traffic lights provide.
Unlike many concerns and complaints that had filled the Community board last year, comments on the positive change that took place in the back gate now fill the page. The traffic that had once been drastic and accident-prone has miraculously changed, providing students with a sense of safety. Students and drivers alike have been guaranteed safety, all with only the establishment of a new traffic light.
The Necessity of Operating Traffic Lights at the Front Gate
The reason itself is quite obvious. Several cases of close calls and sudden stops at mid intersection have been observed. In some occasions, even fatal accidents were reported. This is preposterous when considering the fact that the street is located right by the school. Regardless, nobody has taken action to resolve the issue. Even the city officials have overlooked the matter. Though, it is never too late to take initiative with problems still arising.
Drivers or Students; Who Should Come First?
It’s more or less like the dilemma of the question, “which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” In a democratic society, both subjects, drivers and students alike, are open to pursuing their own interests freely. The problem is that both the drivers and the students share the same interest of moving forward, colliding with one another.
Including the streets outside of CAU, pedestrian crossings without traffic signals are quite common in Korea. In this case, the traffic laws usually states that the pedestrian has the right of way when crossing. Therefore, vehicles must stop when a pedestrian uses the crossing.
Students should be guaranteed their safety under the grounds of a school zone. A school zone refers to an area on a street near a school or near a crosswalk leading to a school, and streets outside campus are all a part of our school zone. Therefore, students should be given the privilege to cross before cars.
The Obstacle Behind Operating Traffic Lights
According to an article stating the views of Seoul City council, council members have concluded that the operation of traffic lights will be impossible because of the amount of traffic congestion it will cause. The intersection in particular will suffer from congestion with cars coming in from all directions. After the police observed and assessed the traffic situation in Heukseok Dong, they consolidated their views on keeping the traffic lights as they were. Instead, after carrying out a survey to the residents of Heukseok Dong, council members decided on installing a flashing green traffic signal in the intersection.
However the traffic has not yet improved in the area. In fact, it hasn’t changed much at all, with cars still speeding their way up the road. In order to effectively change and improve the overall traffic system, new measures should be taken. Below are some recommendations to resolve the chaotic traffic system.
1. “Intelligent” Traffic Signals
The Intelligent Traffic Signal recognizes the number of people waiting to cross the street by having the pedestrians press a button while waiting for the signal. The system will automatically determine the ideal number of people depending on the traffic to cross the road. Nevertheless, it will still slow down the traffic, only partially relieving the burden of the street.
2. Uniformed Patrols
The police officers will take turns to resolve the traffic matter on the street. With police officers on the street, it is not easy for drivers to overlook the traffic rules. Also, with traffic flow based on their judgment, police officers will be able to control the flow of traffic without causing excessive delay. The problem with the current method is that it is not easy for police department to spare the police personnel for traffic control, with their hands already full with other problems within community.
3. Speed Bumps
In order to prevent impatient drivers rushing their way to get past the road, speed bumps could be installed. Although it seem like a passive way of controlling traffic, it is effective in that speed bumps will ‘force’ the drivers to slow down. With slower traffic, the pedestrians will be guaranteed a safer environment when crossing the street. However, the installation of speed bumps requires time, and would be an inconvenience for the traffic and pedestrians.
The only plan to control the current traffic situation without intervention is to let it ‘flow’. Since the road is already congested with traffic, creation of additional path for pedestrians will help both parties. The overpass will let the pedestrians cross the street freely, while removing uncertain dangers that might arise when drivers make their way through the road. Despite its effectiveness, it requires tremendous amount of effort and expenses from the process of planning to the point of construction.
Traffic Jam vs. Student’s Safety
The council members seem to have missed the mark on prioritizing the factors in implementing traffic lights. Traffic jams should never overshadow the importance of the safety students rightfully deserve. The City council should contemplate alleviating the congestion so that traffic lights can be turned on. The survey also needs to be retaken. Survey sample was inadequately extracted as it was drawn from only the residents of Heukseok Dong. Many CAU students in fact live outside of Hueskseok Dong, commuting their way to school. The new survey should include the sample of all CAU students to ensure reliable results.
Korean students want it, exchange students want it, and even the residents of Huekseok Dong want it. What they are asking for is not much; any form of control, which will ensure the safety of both drivers and pedestrians. With the biggest concern being the ‘inconvenience’ it has not gained too much attention from public officials. However, the safety concern is derived from inconvenience itself as well. With people risking their lives to cross the street every day, it is about time the city council members respond to the many civil complaints filed by students and residents alike, and take actions to solve the problem at hand. Also, the school and city council should meet together to develop a manual for road constructions. By any chance if the school expands or creates another gate, the same problem might arise. Hence, instead of having to wait until the problems surface, wouldn’t it be better to take preventive measures? Whatever the method they may choose to resolve the problem, it will definitely be a worthwhile safety investment for the hundreds of people crossing the road every day.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >