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Volume 70, Issue 85, Friday, February 4, 2005

Opinion

Give brakes a break: walk carefully

Lucas Mireles
Opinion Columnist

A large percentage of the student body does not live on campus. Instead, they drive the two-way trip to and from their homes every day. These are the students who have to brave the 50-mile parking lot, also known as the Gulf Freeway, every day they decide to come to school.

Once they exit Cullen Boulevard, away from all of the wonderfully courteous and intellectually sound drivers who call Houston their home, they are subject to another test of traffic patience. This can be called "Oblivious Student Crossing." Students who lack depth perception or the ability to judge a vehicle's speed decide to nonchalantly waltz across the road.

I am not describing the crosswalks, as those are designed to keep pedestrians somewhat safe, but then again you do have to be in training for the next Olympic 100-meter to get across when the politely glowing walking man beckons for you.

This is directed more toward the jaywalking minority of on-foot enthusiasts who have a certain fetish for inducing brake lights. Some do make a physical effort to cross the 30 feet of road before a vehicle comes within braking distance of them. These students are entitled to a little ease on the brake pedal because of the common respect people show to students who are just trying to get to class on time. Every college student can relate to this.

I am more concerned with those who feel crossing streets illegally has no consequences and they themselves are not to be held liable if, by chance, they are struck by a moving vehicle traveling across their personally paved walkway of safety.

The students in the vehicles are, of course, not on Sunday drives. They are, to a certain degree, in a race to find one of those fabled "parking spots" so they themselves can begin the second leg of their triathlons to class on foot. These people have meticulously timed this trip on countless occasions, and they know when Father Time is not exactly acting in their favor. To have someone carelessly stroll in front of their automobiles with not even a glance of acknowledgement while they are screeching to a halt is a blatant sign of disrespect and stupidity.

In kindergarten, everyone should have been taught to look both ways before even attempting to cross a busy street. This rule must have faltered in some school districts as it is not even being considered by some as a primary life-preserving technique. Students should know that Cullen is not Interstate 10 on a Monday morning, but occasionally it sure is close.

Know that when crossing, nobody really wants to see your brand new 20-gig iPod you got for Christmas, nor see you crawl across the street at the speed of slow while chatting or texting to everyone in your phone book. We just want you to get out of the way or use the crosswalk.

An alternative solution would be for the University to build a kind of catwalk structure that goes over Cullen, allowing students free roam at anytime with no inconvenience to drivers at all. 

This would be, more than likely, highly expensive and inefficient -- not to mention incredibly lazy when the easier solution is for students to know some basic street-crossing etiquette. 

Be aware of your surroundings when not crossing at a crosswalk. Have the common courtesy to acknowledge the drivers at the helm of oncoming traffic, and at least attempt to cross at a faster speed to help drivers feel they're not wasting too much time by braking to save your life.

Mireles, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached via dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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