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Student pedestrians a ‘traffic nightmare’

A student (left) looks at her phone as a crossing guard directs traffic on Walnut Avenue. Some Orange residents are concerned about student pedestrians being “glued to their phones.” Photo by Jackie Cohen

Chapman student pedestrians cause a “traffic nightmare,” said Orange resident Jerome Ryan at the Oct. 24 city council meeting.

Since then, many Orange residents expressed concerns about Chapman student pedestrians being “self-absorbed” and “glued to their phones.” They also claim that the crossing guards back up traffic and cause confusion on Walnut Avenue.

“Lemon Street and Palm (Avenue), we have a major traffic problem because the Chapman students are not considerate about the automobile traffic,” Ryan, who lives on Lemon Street, told The Panther. “The pedestrians will not let cars go by. When it’s in between classes, there are hundreds of students crossing haphazardly, completely disregarding the neighbors.”

However, Christa Schmitt, a freshman health sciences major, told The Panther she is “pretty conscientious.”

“I don’t step out whenever I want, I wait,” Schmitt said, “I put my phone down whenever I’m about to cross the street because I don’t want to get hit by a car.”
However, some residents don’t see students as the problem – rather, the issue is the addition of crossing guards.

“The way (the crossing guard) directs traffic is student-focused and he makes cars wait, when, at times, they should have the right of way,” said Alyssa Keys, an Orange resident who has lived near Chapman for her entire life. “By him directing traffic in that manner, it creates a lot of backup into the neighborhoods. His presence confuses drivers and pedestrians alike.”

The crossing guards, who are contracted through an outside company, were hired to compensate for the “temporary loss” of the crosswalk at Center Street and Walnut Avenue, which has a traffic signal, Kris Olsen, the vice president of campus planning and operations, wrote in an email to The Panther.

“Once the signalized crosswalk is restored, anticipated to be this coming spring, we will discontinue their services,” Olsen wrote.

According to the website of American Guard Services, which is the company that contracts the crossing guards, guards have to go through a training program that highlights elements like local traffic regulations, traffic hazard identification and how to appropriately alert traffic.

Orange City Councilman Mike Alvarez told The Panther that he went to the crosswalk on Walnut Avenue, as well as the intersection on Palm Avenue and Lemon Street – near Dodge College of Film and Media Arts – and said that he doesn’t think pedestrian traffic can be avoided.

“It’s the main way for students to get from the dorms to the campus,” Alvarez said. “I don’t know why people are complaining about it. I don’t think it’s really an issue.”

Alvarez described Chapman as a “quasi-campus area,” as part of it is the university and part of it is public property.

“The best thing to do is just to avoid the area,” he said. “You just have to accept that the students are there. They’re just trying to get to class, it’s just part of life there. I don’t think spending money to put in (a pedestrian) light or traffic light is really needed yet, but I imagine we’re going to take a second look when the new dorm is built.”

Freshman biology major Izze Billet agrees that Orange residents should find a different way around the problematic intersections.

“How are we supposed to get anywhere without crossing the street? We all have classes we need to go to,” Billet said. “Find a different way around that intersection. It’s not that hard.”

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