Many Fresno State students use the crosswalks around campus as they make their way to and and from class. But others jaywalk across the street, presenting hazards for drivers. On Nov. 19, a student was killed crossing a poorly lit stretch of Shaw Avenue. Photo Roe Borunda
Jaywalking across the streets around Fresno State may be a byproduct of thousands of students in a hurry, but the potential dangers are easily avoidable, Fresno police Sgt. Anthony DeWall said.
On Nov. 19, 43-year-old Fresno State student Alexander Lark was killed while jaywalking across Shaw Avenue near Jackson Avenue.
Dewall said that of the 26 fatal vehicle collisions documented in Fresno this year, 11 of them involved pedestrians. Five of the 26 included bicyclists.
“It goes back to the old adage when you were a kid and your parents told you to look to the left, look to the right and look to the left again before you step out on that roadway,” DeWall said. “Even if you’re in a marked crosswalk or even if you have the light in your direction as green, make sure that there is still not a vehicle in your path.”
Fresno State student Dylan Rhoden said he used to jaywalk when he lived in the dorms and would cross Cedar Avenue to reach Taco Bell.
Rhoden said that while he knows people who have received tickets for jaywalking by campus, he does not think it will stop students from dashing across the road.
“It’s probably just because students are in a hurry for class, and they just don’t want to walk the extra 10 feet [to the crosswalk] to go across the street and wait for the light,” Rhoden said.
DeWall said Fresno police have issued 1,174 pedestrian-related citations throughout Fresno this year.
Fresno police perform enforcement operations focused on pedestrians once a month around certain areas, particularly around Fresno State and in Downtown Fresno, DeWall said.
“We send officers out there to not only look for pedestrian violations but also look for vehicles that are failing to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk or street,” DeWall said. “It’s a problem not only in the Fresno State area but in the whole city of Fresno.”
Pedestrian-related citations are about $100, with citations for a driver failing to yield to a pedestrian about $150, DeWall said.
Fresno State student James Bray said he believes a faster light system, specifically at Cedar Avenue and Bulldog Lane, or extra crosswalks would encourage students not to jaywalk around the perimeter of campus.
“I feel like if students are going to jaywalk, they should not be doing it when there is a lot of traffic,” Bray said. “It’s all about how people do it. Even though jaywalking is illegal, they are going to do it anyway. So they might as well just do it the smart way.”
DeWall said he urges students to be aware and safe as they are driving around campus and crossing streets.
“Students’ minds might be on finals, midterms, a research paper that they’re working on or a big test coming up,” DeWall said. “Whatever the case may be, make sure to pay extra attention.
“Even when people have a green light or are in a crosswalk, it’s not a shield against the vehicle that’s coming down the roadway that may not be paying attention and may run that red light.”