By Abby Wargo
After two Washington College students were struck by cars in 2017, Director of Public Safety Gerald Roderick is attempting to curb accidents at crosswalks in Chestertown.
Roderick, who acts as the WC representative for the Chestertown pedestrian safety committee, installed a camera angled towards the crosswalk on Campus Avenue. Last semester, a student was hit by a car while crossing the road, which leads to Cromwell Hall.
“We’ve had difficulties with pedestrians at that intersection,” Roderick said.
Roderick joined the committee in the fall of 2015. The Pedestrian Safety Committee was formed by the State Highway Administration during the process of building Cromwell Hall to put an emphasis on pedestrian safety.
After a student was hit last semester on Halloween, Roderick said he began having conversations with Chestertown’s Mayor and Town Council about putting preventative measures in place.
At the November 2017 Mayor and Town Council meeting, Public Safety presented on the difficulties pedestrians pose at that intersection. Roderick made recommendations for traffic control devices that stop all traffic so that pedestrians can cross. The council was supportive.
The traffic light on Campus Avenue was installed in the late 1980s, and Roderick is “pushing for the next phase.” Currently, there is no all-car stop at the intersection.
“The light causes part of the problem— people turning left are looking for vehicles, not pedestrians,” he said.
The camera, mounted on the Alumni House, records the crosswalk, and Public Safety officers can monitor it.
Roderick urged the community to report any “near misses” when they are using the crosswalk so that he can take the video evidence back to the Mayor and Town Council.
“We need evidence so we can say, ‘This is exactly what we mean,'” he said.
This is not the first time that safety recommendations have been submitted to the SHA at WC. Public Safety first submitted a report in December 2015.
“We presented our findings, they thanked us very politely and we never heard back from them,” he said.
In November, those findings were revisited to reinforce additional recommendations that were added in order to err on the side of caution.
“We presented them with a lengthy list of improvements…we have a lot of needs, but we’re one of many in the state,” he said.
Pedestrians can report their close calls with oncoming traffic to Roderick via email at email@example.com.