In an all-student email sent out on Sept. 13, it was announced that the Knox County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) will begin to crack down on jaywalkers in downtown Gambier. The email urged students to use crosswalks, and warned that increased enforcement of this law will result in KCSO issuing citations to community members who do not use the marked crosswalks.
Bob Hooper, director of the Office of Campus Safety, says that although jaywalking has always been against the law, this crackdown is the result of an increasing trend of jaywalking among students. “Safety is becoming an issue, not just for us, but for the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
Even in light of the upward trend in jaywalking over the past several years, this year is reportedly particularly bad. Chief Business Officer Mark Kohlman noted that, during his tenure here, he has seen “students walk in every possible direction across the streets without looking,” and crossing the road wherever they wish in order to take the shortest route, though he did not mention any specific incidents. Kohlman believes that this is not due to problems with the streets or crosswalks themselves, noting that “there are plenty of logical spots to cross the road.”
On Gaskin Avenue, the construction blocking off the sidewalk might be a contributing factor, though alternative routes such as Middle Path are still open to foot traffic. Kohlman adds that Gaskin Avenue is a one-way street, and that students walking or riding bikes the wrong way is a big issue.
The problem is worse in the evenings, particularly when students are traveling to or from parties, according to Hooper. At these times there is still traffic moving through Gambier, leading officials to worry about accidents. When it comes to issuing citations, Hooper says the KCSO “may not be given a choice, because again, safety is at the root of this. It’s not that anyone wants to [issue citations].”
Campus Safety is working to improve the lighting on these streets to increase visibility and reduce the chance of an accident in the evenings. They are working to make people aware of the problem to ensure that students are safe, according to Hooper.
As of now, KCSO has not issued any citations, but the Campus Safety and Health and Counseling Center Committee to Student Council has indicated that this might be subject to change. Bob Hooper and Campus Safety remind students that this is an issue of safety and urge everyone to be mindful about how they use the roads.