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Crosswalk safety at Palo Alto College is a concern

By Marie Bueno | Pulse Staff Reporter

Thousands of pedestrians use the crosswalk on San Jose Street every day to get from one side of the campus to the other. Heavy traffic, lack of signage and faded striping on this particular crosswalk has proven to be a dangerous situation.

Ann Bolton BrownleeOn October 3, Ann Bolton-Brownlee, the lead for library instruction at Palo Alto College, was crossing San Jose, the main artery that runs between the Palo Alto College campus from Villaret to Loop 410, when she was struck by a motor vehicle. Bolton-Brownlee was in the middle of the crosswalk when she saw a car approaching out of the corner of her eye. She remembers putting her hand out on the hood of the car, but it was too late. The car struck her and knocked her to the ground.

“I laid still on the street because I wasn’t sure if anything was broken,” said Bolton-Brownlee.

The person who hit her was contrite and visibly upset. It was determined that the person wasn’t texting or on the phone, but he had taken his eyes off the road for just a few seconds to wave at friends.

Even though Bolton-Brownlee’s injuries are requiring physical therapy, she feels lucky to have only suffered minor injuries.

She fears that this could happen to someone else if something is not done to make the pedestrian right of way more visible. While she was very pleased about how fast campus police responded and how willing bystanders came to her aid, flashing beacons, brighter signage and restriping would help Bolton-Brownlee and possibly other pedestrians to feel more at ease when crossing.

“Safety of our campus community is a top priority,” said Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College. “After the incident with Ann Bolton-Brownlee, we determined that it would be helpful to highlight the crossings around campus to drivers to ensure they are cognizant of pedestrian traffic."

Crosswalk SignFlores said that signs around the campus have already been installed.

Since no perimeter street wraps around the entire campus, San Jose is the main way for vehicles to get from one side of the campus to the other.

“I feel like I’m being rushed to get across the crosswalk,” said Alexandria Borroul, a freshman in Early Childhood Education. “I don’t want to make the cars wait.”

Borroul wonders what can be done to avoid this uneasy feeling when crossing.

Sergio Rivera, superintendent of Facilities at Palo Alto, said requisitions and purchase orders for signage and crosswalk thermoplastic have been placed. However, it is a step-by-step process so no definite date has been determined for when those ordered items will delivered and installed.

Since Bolton-Brownlee’s accident, several signs have been installed and more are on the way.

“The college's master plan designed several years ago includes making San Jose pedestrian only,” said Dr. Beatriz Joseph, vice president of College Affairs. “…we are nowhere near implementing that portion of the plan.”

For now, the crosswalk has been revamped to help drivers remember that stopping for pedestrians is the law.