OPINION: Campus pedestrian malls are bad for students

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Over the past few years at Kansas State, there have been many construction projects that have helped update our campus to keep up with the changing times. However, some projects could have been left off the construction schedule. One of these projects is the addition of pedestrian malls to the campus.

The concept of a campus pedestrian mall is a great one. Instead of students clogging up small sidewalks and possibly crossing streets at unsafe places, why not just get rid of the street and make it one big sidewalk? Then students can simply cross whenever they please and not have to worry about vehicles. It’s better for everybody, right?

Wrong. Vehicular traffic has been heavily reduced thanks to our pedestrian malls, but that doesn’t mean it has been eliminated.

Trucks from Five Star Vending, UPS and other companies that deliver vital resources to buildings on campus must still reach their delivery points. Instead of forcing the drivers to undergo an extensive walk with their products, K-State allows drivers to simply drive to their destinations on the pedestrian malls.

While this benefits the drivers, it’s an inconvenience to us students who are under the impression that “no streets” means “no vehicles.”

Golf carts, mowers and other small vehicles used for groundskeeping purposes also frequent the pedestrian malls. I’m more willing to give leeway to our groundskeepers and drivers helping injured or disabled students get to class since their vehicles can easily move around groups of students.

However, large delivery trucks can’t simply swerve around a group of four or five oblivious students.

Since the construction of the new Architecture, Planning and Design building has concluded, I have noticed that the most heinous offender of the “no vehicles” rule is the pedestrian mall that stretches from the Leadership Studies Building to Bluemont Hall. Even over the summer, I saw multiple large delivery trucks driving on the sidewalk.

It was even worse back when major construction for the new APDesign building was underway. At that time, the pedestrian mall that runs past the Engineering Complex was fairly new, and people were enjoying the lack of vehicles, but that ended quickly as the trailers carrying construction supplies needed in and out.

A large portion of the pedestrian mall was quickly commandeered by the construction crews to fulfill that purpose, and students were left to walk on a narrow lane the size of a normal sidewalk.

Last year’s construction of the pedestrian mall from the Leadership Studies Building to Bluemont Hall was also a complete nightmare for students who just wanted to get to class.

Through the whole process, many of the normal avenues to buildings that were previously easily accessible were cut off, forcing students to take detours to class. This construction was in conjunction with the closure of a large portion of the other pedestrian mall.

While I think pedestrian malls are something of a waste of money, I do appreciate that we have a lot more space to walk and ride our bikes to class without worrying as much about getting run over by a rogue vehicle.

Hopefully there won’t be any more major construction projects soon, but K-State construction is like Kansas weather — you never know what you’re going to get.

Jason DeFisher is a junior in animal sciences and industry. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Collegian. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.

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