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Speaking Out

Supporting Pedestrian Safety

On Tuesday, January 22, I planned to meet my colleagues for lunch but I never made it across Walnut Street. A car ran a red light and headed towards me in the crosswalk. I almost evaded the car but, unfortunately, the corner of the car's front bumper struck my leg. The crash broke the two bones in my lower right leg (open tibia-fibula fracture). I was rushed by ambulance to HUP and then to surgery where Dr. John Esterhai implanted a permanent titanium rod in my leg. The following Friday, I was released from HUP, walking on crutches and in good spirits, thanks to the many people who visited with me in person, by phone and e-mail and the excellent care I received. The driver of the car that struck me was apprehended and placed into custody. UPPD is pursuing criminal prosecution.

I am happy that justice is being sought but I am more interested in working to prevent future pedestrian injuries at Penn. This is not the first such incident at this (and many other) intersections near Penn. I got off relatively lightly; other victims have died at the very intersection where I was struck. It is time for the pedestrians in the area to stake their claim of partial ownership of the streets. Right now, drivers have few real restrictions on their movement. Even in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic, like on our campus, the cars have sole ownership of the streets.

UPPD is well aware of the problems and, to their credit, has taken steps to improve pedestrian safety. Maureen Rush, Penn's VP for Public Safety, outlined a few of the many programs underway when she visited me at HUP: increased enforcement, a speeding awareness trailer, and the "Live-Stop Program" through which approximately 400 motorists were stopped and their vehicles confiscated for driving unlicensed or unregistered vehicles in the last two years.

Efforts to enforce traffic laws are necessary but not sufficient. We need to focus on prevention and this will require environmental changes favoring pedestrians. Some traffic-calming efforts will take time and planning, but others, such as adding traffic lights and traffic light cycles that have pedestrian-only periods, can and should be implemented immediately.

--Ira Winston, CSE '80, CIS '83
Executive Director,

Speaking Out welcomes reader contributions. Short, timely letters on University issues will be accepted by Thursday at noon for the following Tuesday's issue, subject to right-of-reply guidelines. Advance notice of intention to submit is appreciated. --Eds

Almanac, Vol. 48, No. 21, February 5, 2002


February 5, 2002
Volume 48 Number 21

The first Neal Nathanson Lecture will be given next week by Dr. Stanley Prusiner, Nobel Laureate and Penn alumnus.
After four years at the helm of the College House Program, Dr. David Brownlee steps down as director and turns over the wheel to a fellow faculty master.
When is Spring Recess? Well, now it is Spring Break--at least on the Academic Calendar--to be consistent with Fall Break.
Mix more than a dozen committees, a multi-year timeline, five institutional goals, six academic priorities, and several organizational priorities and the result is a new Strategic Plan which will soon be published For Comment.
The Council Committee on Communications reports on its findings from a one-year review of the Policy on Privacy in the Electronic Environment.
Improving pedestrian safety is a multi-step challenge.
Environmental Health and Radiation Safety offers information, thermometer exchange, and training for employees who handle hazardous substances.
Researchers make discoveries concerning King Midas, kidney disease, Alzheimer's disease, immune system and major depressive disorder.
The University Research Foundation's latest awards go to 48 projects--from The Art of Urbanism in Feudal Aquitaine to Evaluating a Hospital Quality Improvement Model for Developing Countries.
Discounted tickets are available to attend Annenberg Center events and a Basketball Game at the Palestra.
Penn Public Safety Institute provides the community with a glimpse of police work from behind-the-scenes; the next program begins tomorrow. Apply now.