Cooke: Students should observe walkway etiquette

Cody Cooke

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

On any given day at Colorado State University, thousands of students can be seen walking to and from class, flowing down sidewalks or flooding across The Plaza. And then there are those who bike for transportation, zipping through lanes that stretch from College Avenue to Shields Street and everywhere in between.

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That much pedestrian and bike traffic can be an amazing sight to see, but it can also pose a risk. It may seem harmless, but walking or biking across campus, especially when it’s snowy, can be dangerous if pedestrians aren’t careful.

Walking down University Avenue toward the center of campus at noon is a literal rush hour of foot traffic. Making things even more complicated are the wide walkways, like Center Avenue Mall running from the Lory Student Center to Lake Street, that offer little organization for the movement of bodies. These spacious areas can handle heavy loads of walkers, but huge numbers of people and sudden spikes in density can make navigating them difficult.

Whether students are on their way to class or on their way home, being cautious of the surroundings and of other walkers can avoid pedestrian mishaps.”

Observing common pedestrian etiquette can make getting to class easier for everyone. For instance, it’s always safe to stick to one side of any walkway, similar to how cars on the road stick to their right. This keeps you out of the way of oncoming walkers and greatly lowers any risk of collision.

Lots of students like to listen to music while they walk. It’s relaxing, and it offers a few minutes of personal time before sitting down for a lecture. Sometimes, though, pedestrians can get too distracted switching the song or making sure their AirPods are connected to notice the crowd of people they’re walking straight into. If you need to open Spotify but the sidewalk keeps going, step off to the side so you don’t block anybody.

Knowing how to effectively navigate sidewalks when there’s ice on the ground is crucial if you don’t want to end up with a cold, wet butt. For starters, just staying aware and watching where you’re going can potentially save you from a fall. Also, staying on a steady path instead of meandering across the sidewalk can save someone else from having to sidestep. Everybody is just as cold and ready to get inside as you are, so watch where you’re going, and try not to walk faster than your boots can grip. 

Some students stop at the crosswalk to let cross traffic through. Not all students understand the bicycle laws on and around campus, which can be dangerous. (Photo credit: Sady Swanson)

Beyond sidewalks and walkways, students need to have common sense when crossing the road. It may sound childish to reiterate the idea of looking both ways, but CSU’s campus is surrounded by busy streets, not to mention the number of campus facilities vehicles that zip around all the time. If snow is coming down, drivers may have a hard time seeing a student crossing the road, and ice can make stopping to avoid a collision uncertain and dangerous.

Also, when students do cross the street, they would do well to get out of it as soon as possible. Pedestrians having the right of way doesn’t give them the right to take as much time as they want. Everybody has somewhere to be, and being on foot in the road just causes congestion and puts you at risk.

Though they aren’t on foot, bike riders have even more of an obligation to watch their sidewalk etiquette. Whereas two walkers colliding is just awkward, a moving bike could actually do damage. To avoid this, don’t text and bike, and try not to bike where there’s ice on the ground. Also, dismount when you reach The Plaza or any other dismount zone. There’s no reason to book it through a crowded walking area, especially considering someone could get hurt just because you want to get somewhere quicker. 

Whether students are on their way to class or on their way home, being cautious of the surroundings and of other walkers can prevent pedestrian mishaps. Perhaps when the weather is warmer we can all take our time walking through campus, but when it’s wet and cold, wisely navigating the walkways can get us inside and warmed up without running into anybody on our way there.

Cody Cooke can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @CodyCooke17.

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