Students respond to vision, reality of walking-only campus

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K-State will prioritize pedestrian movement and campus aesthetic, allowing for flexible management of traffic and access to buildings on campus, according to the Campus Master Plan 2025.

Construction modifications across campus, including pedestrian malls and bicycle boulevards, aim to heighten students’ convenience by redirecting traffic networks around campus rather than through it.

Caleb Warner, freshman in biology, said he is not a fan of a walking-only campus because the roads are not very busy during the day, and the cars that do use the roads are cautious about students.

“It will be definitely be convenient for the students living on or near campus, but not so much for the students living far away from campus because they will have to park far away and then walk to class,” Warner said.

Providing functions such as parking and circulation in a way that enables regular and convenient access to students, faculty and visitors, while enhancing the character of the campus is challenging for the university, according to the executive summary of the master plan. The Campus Master Plan recommends a “series of modifications to the campus circulation network” that will encourage crosstown traffic to move around the campus, rather than through it.

“Seventeenth Street between Claflin Road and the K-State Student Union and Mid-Campus Drive between Claflin Road and Lovers Lane are closed to daily traffic and redeveloped as a pedestrian priority zone,” according to the summary. “Similar to Mid-Campus Drive, Claflin Road becomes a limited vehicular access drive that is closed to daily traffic, no longer connecting east-west traffic to North Manhattan Avenue through campus.”

The summary said Denison Avenue, Claflin Road, College Avenue, Kimball Avenue, North Manhattan Avenue and Anderson Avenue will remain as perimeter streets, while internal circulation on campus will be limited for daily users.

The master plan also described a centralized parking plan that uses the large lots at Bill Snyder Family Stadium instead of the various lots throughout campus, relying on an efficient transit system delivering students to and from campus.

“I don’t think that it will work better than parking dispersed throughout campus because the parking lot will always be packed and lines for the transit service may take a while,” Warner said. “Students won’t be able to properly estimate the time it will take to get to their building.”

Two injury accidents involving pedestrians at crosswalks occurred early in the academic year, between Sept. 9 and Sept. 16; both cases involved drivers failing to yield to the pedestrian in the crosswalk, according to K-State Today.

Converting K-State to a walking-only campus, however, may not curtail accidents as long as bicyclists still share the sidewalk according to Shannon Keith, freshman in early childhood education.

Keith, who often uses her bike to get around campus, said she almost hit a pedestrian who was texting and made a sharp step to the right and into Keith’s path to avoid walking into a puddle. Keith said she narrowly missed the walker as she swerved out of the way.

“It’s frustrating because you’re in a hurry and people are texting,” Keith said. “Sometimes there is a danger to you or to the pedestrian. Texting will always be an issue. For walking, most people know left from left and right from right in terms of passing slower walkers, but it’s hard to tell people to move when you’re going at a much faster speed.”

Keith is not the only person to almost be in a bike accident; 66.2 percent of pedestrians said they have nearly collided with bicycles on campus, according to John Scott in his report, “Bicycle and pedestrian harmony: Perspectives on bicyclists’ behavior on campus.”

“Bikes are not being used properly on campus,” Keith said. “A walking campus means more pedestrians, giving the possibility of more collisions around campus. It’s hard to enforce, but bikers on a walking-only campus will need to be more aware of places they can and can’t ride on.”

Zachary Bair, junior in operations management, said pedestrian awareness is a large part of safety, even if vehicles are not permitted to drive on campus.

Bair said a car almost hit his roommate after she entered a crosswalk without making sure the car had stopped. Snowy weather caused the car to slide after slamming on the brakes, but he pulled his roommate back after seeing the car was unable to stop.

“I joked with her that natural selection was going to take her out,” Bair said. “But really a walking campus wouldn’t change most people’s routines. I feel like most people walk through campus either way, now they just wouldn’t have to worry about getting hit.”

Keith said for her it all boils down to parking.

“It’s a good step for making campus more beautiful, and it makes the students adaptive toward change,” Keith said. “If there are good parking arrangements, I feel that most students won’t have a problem adjusting to a walking campus.”

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