Sidewalk Stumbles: Why Baylor should invest in safer streets and sidewalks

By Carson Lewis | Page One Editor

With heavy construction ongoing with I-35, now is as good a time as any for Baylor to improve the safety of its sidewalks and roads for those who walk, skate and bike to class and work.

During high school when I was looking at universities to attend, I noticed that most campuses emphasized safety for students. On Baylor’s campus, the emergency yellow poles are a great example of this. However, safety can appear in different forms and might be less obvious.

When visiting the other colleges, I remember being amazed by the quality of paths and roadways on their campuses. One of the smaller things I noticed was the smoothness of concrete and the lack of cracks along walking paths and sidewalks. During my time at Baylor, that orderliness has been somewhat elusive. I’ve found myself tripping over cracks that often seem to rise up from the sidewalk, which seemed to be nonexistent on campuses of other top universities in the nation.

While part of this issue may come from my inherent clumsiness or carelessness, I think there’s something to be said about the quality of sidewalks on Baylor’s campus. The neglect that the paths have fallen into can be harmful.

I recall last semester, when I skateboarded around campus with my friends by the Bobo Spiritual Life Center, I hit a particularly nasty piece of concrete and tumbled to the ground. I was not seriously injured, but when I looked back at the place where I fell, I realized that the space could be easily tripped over by anyone, whether they be running, skating, or walking on campus. I was lucky to not be hurt, but it may only be a matter of time before some unfortunate freshman late for class breaks a bone falling over that same spot in a desperate bid to avoid a tardy to an 8 a.m. Christian Heritage class.

I think this spot, among others on campus, should be fixed to improve the safety of all who navigate the campus on a daily basis. A few problematic locations that should be fixed include: the root-displaced intersections of Founders Mall, the deadly lip of Penland dining hall and the dangerous assortment of misaligned concrete across the street from Castellaw Communications Center.

Other colleges offer students resources to report potentially unsafe walkways to be repaired. On Cornell University’s website, students can call a number to report potholes and other hazards on campus property and also see what services the university provides in order to keep the campus safe and beautiful. I think that this system might work well at Baylor, as it allows for students to help observe places that might need to be made safer.

While not an expert by any means on campus design, I think these places in particular can be dangerous to guests and freshman, and should be fixed before an accident occurs. If nothing else, these locations also are an eyesore of an otherwise beautiful campus, and should be looked at for improvement by Baylor administration just as much as upgrades made to guest services and academic buildings.