Staring down Walnut Street at oncoming cars with his radar gun in hand, University Police officer Marvin Jones is working to make campus a safer place for pedestrians. Jones shoots his radar gun at cars traveling over the Walnut Street bridge, and a screen the size of a television set sits atop a University Police car displaying the speed of the cars. The new device is not being used to issue speeding tickets, but to make people aware of how fast they are traveling on Walnut street, according to Victim Support and Special Services Director Maureen Rush. Since several students were seriously injured at 33rd and Walnut streets last year, officials from the city, the University and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation have been looking for permanent solutions to what seemed to be an ongoing safety hazard. The radar tracking is part of a multi-faceted safety improvement plan. The radar experiment will last for the next several weeks and is being conducted for one hour each day, Rush said. But in the long run, she said additional speed limit signs will be added and international signage will be put up at dangerous intersections, warning pedestrians to look before they cross. The state is also planning to put up signs warning motorists of the pedestrian crosswalk ahead. If drivers fail to yield to pedestrians, University and Philadelphia Police officers will issue tickets to the offenders, Rush said. Another part of the plan calls for the far left lane between 32nd and 33rd streets to be made into a "left turn only" lane. Police said they have clocked cars going as fast as 65 and 70 miles per hour. The average speed is around 50 m.p.h. -- 10 to 15 m.p.h. faster than the posted speed limit of 35 m.p.h. Officers on the scene said that once motorists escape from downtown congestion, "the pedal goes down" when they see the open road. Before 9 a.m., cars seem to travel the fastest. But in general, cars slow down when they see a police officer holding the radar gun. An educational component is also included in the long term safety plan. New employees and new students will be informed of the danger surrounding certain intersections. Rush added that students should always be cautious at all intersections and avoid jaywalking.Comments powered by Disqus
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