Fanshawe safety issues raised
By Becky Somerville
When Fanshawe College student Shawn Thompson was hit by a car on the periphery of his own campus, it prompted the college and the city alike to make some serious considerations.
Thompson, a first-year student, was struck on Nov. 20 when he was crossing Oxford Street between Second and Third Streets. He is currently unconscious at the Victoria campus of the London Health Sciences Centre.
The problem of students jaywalking across Oxford between Third and Second Streets has been ongoing, said Fanshawe College President Howard Rundle. He added the last reported traffic incident involving a pedestrian was four years ago.
At a meeting Nov. 25, representatives from London police, Fanshawe College and the City of London met to discuss the issue.
"Because this person has been really critically hurt it has got a lot of attention," Rundle said.
There are only so many things the city can do, Rundle said. Traffic lights are already in place at both the Oxford and Second as well as Oxford and Third Street, he added.
Although a proposed crosswalk was suggested at the meeting, Rundle said the city would not consider one because Oxford is a busy street and too much traffic would be stopped. He added the city may be considering lowering the speed limit from 60 km/h to 50 km/h. "Other than changing the speed limit, I don't think there is anything the city can do."
While the meeting incited plans for further discussion involving the London Transit Commission and the city's transportation department, Rundle said in the meantime the college will advertise the dangers of jaywalking.
"The only thing that could stop [jaywalking] is the college erecting barriers," he said. Rundle added this would involve moving the main entrance and a change to the LTC bus route, which will have to be examined.
Sgt. John O'Flaherty of the London police said a crosswalk would not serve any purpose because students can easily cross at the intersection. "It's not a dangerous area," he said.
Head of the transportation department for the City of London, Robert Petrie, said he would consider putting up a fence similar to the one along Western Road on Western's campus.
"There was some discussion about lowering the speed limit, but it's a major east/west arterial road and I certainly wouldn't consider lowering it to 50km/h," Petrie added.
The only measure the college can take at this time to discourage jaywalking is to heighten awareness, said Fanshawe's director of finance and administration, Roland Sterling.
"We couldn't see an immediate thing that could happen," he said. Sterling added changing access to the college may be a possible remedy to the situation.
Eric Longtein, Thompson's roommate, said anything which would prevent this type of incident from happening again should be considered. "There is something that should be done, obviously."