To the Facilities Director of De Anza College
While the recently completed multimillion dollar facilities expansion project has undoubtedly increased De Anza College’s regional influence and enhanced the institution’s ability to attract quality students, in our breathless rush towards progress certain public safety measures have been neglected. The completion of the Off-Campus Dorm unit has undoubtedly enabled a greater number of upperclassmen to make the campus area of Cupertino their home, however, the location of this residence hall may result in unnecessary injuries or deaths due to traffic collisions. Because the Off-Campus Dorm is situated north of Stevens Creek Boulevard, one of the city’s more heavily trafficked eight-lane thoroughfares, a significant number of students are now forced to cross this busy street during their daily commutes from dorm to campus.
Although the intersection currently contains a crosswalk to facilitate pedestrian movement, we contend that this crosswalk is not suitably outfitted or equipped for large number of students that will now be crossing the street every day. Without sufficiently visible markings on the street indicating the crosswalk’s presence, adequate signage in place to warn drivers that students will be crossing, and brighter streetlight fixtures to maintain safety during the dawn and dusk hours, De Anza College students will remain at risk of being struck and injured, or even killed, by passing motorists on the busy Stevens Creek Boulevard. We propose to prevent these tragedies before they occur by safeguarding the critical crosswalk in question, through the addition of highlighted reflective markings on the roadway, additional lighting capabilities, and possibly the placement of a police officer during rush hour to help guide the flow of pedestrians and drivers.
Background and Need:
According to the inaugural 2002 Cupertino Pedestrian Transportation Guidelines, “Stevens Creek Boulevard is a wide street that requires up to 23 seconds to cross,” (32) which makes it a prime example of a crossing with increased risk to pedestrians. The potential for dangerous collisions between motorists and pedestrians crossing Stevens Creek Boulevard was further confirmed by a study of pedestrian/automobile collision incidents, which concluded that “the streets with the largest number of pedestrian collisions were Stevens Creek Boulevard, with 11” (60), followed by De Anza Boulevard with nine. Further examination of the raw traffic data in this document shows that a full 25% of the pedestrian collisions in Cupertino victimized those between the ages of 16 and 40, which covers the major age cohorts present within a community college population (61).
The preponderance of statistical evidence clearly indicates that the current crosswalk facilities linking De Anza College’s campus with the Off-Campus Dorm by way of Stevens Creek Boulevard represent a major threat to student safety because of a confluence of three main factors. First, Stevens Creek Boulevard is a heavily trafficked main roadway that is especially wide, meaning it takes upwards of a half a minute to cross while walking. Second, the combination of pedestrian activity and rush hour traffic has made Stevens Creek Boulevard the most dangerous street in Cupertino in terms of pedestrian/automobile collision incidents. Third, the age group most likely to be struck while crossing the road covers the vast majority of De Anza College’s student population.
Resources and Costs:
The proposed improvements to the Stevens Creek Boulevard crosswalk would obviously require an investment of resources by De Anza College, and while we recognize the budgetary constraints affecting all public institutions during the prolonged recession, it is our position that inaction would inevitably cost the school more, both financially and in terms of public image. In today’s age of instantaneous social media, a single incident involving a De Anza College student being fatally injured while crossing Stevens Creek Boulevard would become a top story regionally, while also attracting attention on a national level. While the school’s public image is by no means the paramount concern during the delicate discussion over public safety, pragmatism and prudence dictates that preventative measures be taken to avoid the worst case scenario. The 2007 Facilities Master Plan designed by the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees cites an institutional priority to “ensure the safety of students, faculty and staff through the development of safe and accessible vehicular and pedestrian paths” (3). It is therefore advisable to consider the entire range of cost-benefit factors, both tangible and intangible, associated with improving the crosswalk in question before making any final determinations.
A review of the Implementation and Funding section within the Cupertino Pedestrian Transportation Plan shows that “a simple crosswalk with two parallel 12-inch solid white lines could run from $500 to $1,000 per location whereas a crosswalk combined with a speed table and/or in-roadway flashing lights can run $20,000 per location, depending on the design” (46). While this may appear to be an exorbitant cost for a single crosswalk enhancement, the 2007 Facilities Master Plan published by the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees states that “the passage of Measure C, a $490.8 million districtwide bond in June, 2006, provided” De Anza College with “the unique opportunity to blend our vision of future campus development with an identified, reliable funding source” (2). Surely, with nearly a half a billion dollars granted by the taxpayers of Cupertino to the college for crucial improvements, a one-time investment of just $15,000 to safeguard members of our student body from deadly road accidents can be justified.
Adding additional lighting to the intersections where Mary Avenue and De Anza College Parkway cross Stevens Creek Boulevard would also involve an investment of funds, however, we confidently contend that the college could easily persuade the City of Cupertino to absorb the costs of installation and maintenance. This belief is based on the city’s own public statement that “the most visible improvement made by The City of Cupertino’s Resource Conservation Program is the retrofit of energy efficient streetlights” and that “when the new retrofitted streetlamps have been installed, the city’s single largest utility bill will be reduced by 40%” (1). With the local government already in the process of improving their streetlight system, the addition of two strategically placed lights to enhance safety conditions along De Anza College’s northern border with Stevens Creek Boulevard would add no undue budgetary burden. If external funding cannot be secured through the City of Cupertino we refer back to the 2007 Facilities Master Plan authored by the Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees, which holds that there should be “large scale lighting along vehicular routes and parking lots & #8230; and pedestrian lights in campus core,” (17) to remind those with the authority to enact reform that it is their responsibility to do so.
Supporting Documents and Evidence:
The following map, obtained from the Cupertino Pedestrian Transportation Guidelines, illustrates the location of school crossing guards and flashing crosswalk beacons within the city of Cupertino. You may notice the main east-west corridor through the map, Stevens Creek Boulevard, contains a total of zero advanced pedestrian assistance measures, which means that citizens choosing to walk across the notoriously busy eight-lane roadway are left entirely to their own devices.
Contrasting the above image with a map showing pedestrian collisions, again obtained from the Cupertino Pedestrian Transportation Guidelines, it is clear that both the city and the college are sitting on a proverbial powder keg.
The second map shows that a clear majority of Cupertino’s car accidents involving pedestrians occurs along Steven Creek Boulevard, with a cluster forming along the approximate border with De Anza College. Until this eminent danger is rectified expediently, once and for all, every student who decides to cross Stevens Creek Boulevard to attend class, meet with friends, or study at the library will be effectively taking their own lives in their hands. The Board of Trustees of De Anza College, in cooperative concert with the local government of Cupertino, must actively mitigate this mounting risk by taking decisive action to plan, fund, install and maintain an advanced crosswalk with sufficient lighting.
City of Cupertino, California. Cupertino Pedestrian Transportation Plan. San Francisco, CA: Wilbur Smith Associates, 2002. Print.
City of Cupertino. Growing Greener Outdoors. Cupertino, CA. 2010. Web. .
Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point. Boston, MA: Little, Brown and Company, 2000. Print.
Foothill-De Anza Board of Trustees. Foothill-De Anza Community College District. 2007 Facilities Master Plan. Los Altos Hills, CA. 2007. Web. .
Kolin, Philip C. Successful Writing at Work. 9th. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2010. Print. .
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