Kristopher Saad / Contributing Staff
In order to ensure the safety of the increased pedestrian traffic resulting from the construction of 109 Tower, the intersection at 8th Street and 109th Avenue is in desperate need of improvements.
Since the start of the new semester and the opening of the residential tower, I have been witness to several near accidents on the highly traveled intersection by pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles. It is clear that the intersection is a dangerous point of convergence between pedestrians and cars. 8th street is one of Miami’s main thoroughfares and as such is highly trafficked late into the night. Cars zoom by at upwards of 50 miles an hour, often over the speed limit. Red lights are regularly run and yielding to pedestrians is the exception rather than the rule.
Vehicles routinely blockade the crosswalk forcing pedestrians to divert around cars off the crosswalk. In fact, it seems that most Miami drivers are notoriously unaware of the pedestrians and cyclists sharing the roadway with them. This is why action must be taken immediately.
Vehicles alone don’t make the intersection a dangerous crossing. Many of the pedestrians and cyclists themselves fail to obey crosswalk signs and thereby endanger themselves. It is not rare to see pedestrians and cyclists cross the street with headphones on while staring intently at their phones, blindly trusting the crosswalk signs with their lives.
Yet others fail to look for traffic, start crossing too late and end up waiting on the median for traffic to subside. Stressed and tired students crossing this highly trafficked street add to the dangerous list of occurrences that make the intersection at 8th ST and 109 Avenue a very real danger to pedestrians, a majority of which are University students.
It is the University’s duty to ensure the safety of students in the surrounding community, especially concerning the crosswalks that provide direct access to campus. Rigorous speed limit and moving violation enforcement is necessary to quell the masses of law breaking drivers. Increased student awareness about crosswalk safety is also necessary. Flyers and other awareness initiatives should be undertaken, particular near the crosswalks.
Finally, immediate safety improvements are needed in order to reduce the risk of an accident at the intersection. There are rumors of plans for a pedestrian bridge, but as of now there is no development taking place for such an overpass. Aside from increased law enforcement presence and student awareness, embedded, flashing pavement lights should be installed along the crosswalk in every direction. These can already be found on campus and help increase crosswalk visibility, especially at night. In addition, crosswalk caution signs and hazard lights should be installed on all streets prior to the crosswalk to increase driver awareness of the crosswalk. Furthermore, active speed limit signs with radar guns should be installed to warn drivers of their excess speed when approaching the intersection.
The University needs to take action to prevent an inevitable pedestrian catastrophe at the intersection of SW 8th st, and 109th Ave. A loss of life or serious injury is a very real possibility in its current state. Immediate action by the University would substantially lower the risk to crosswalk users.
It’s not a matter of if, but when someone will get hurt. Crosswalk safety is something FIU owes its students