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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

October 7, 2005

Why did the chicken cross the road at Iowa State?

by Annette Hacker

It isn't every day you encounter a six-foot chicken on campus ...

  • ... with its own security detail ...
  • ... crossing Pammel Road at 8 a.m.

On Sept. 28-29, a larger-than-life chicken crossed the road at some of the busiest intersections on campus, at some of the busiest times of the day. The chicken was joined by ISU police officers who shared safety messages with the university community.

The "chicken-crossing-the-road" campaign is all part of an idea hatched by ISU Police Lt. Deborah Larkin and Sgt. Liz Gries to get motorists to pay attention and yield to pedestrians in the crosswalks. It's an important safety initiative on a largely pedestrian campus, where approximately 32,000 people and several thousand cars mingle every day.

The tongue-in-beak silliness of it all is to get drivers' attention. Too often they are fatigued, distracted, hurried, or just not paying attention to people in the crosswalks, Larkin said.

"We're not doing this in reaction to pedestrian and vehicle accidents; rather, we're trying to get ahead of this and raise awareness of the law," Larkin said. "State law requires that motorists yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk."

It's also a bit of a lesson in courtesy, she added.

"Typically, pedestrians standing on the curb get frustrated when vehicles won't stop. If pedestrians aren't in a crosswalk, drivers aren't required to stop for them -- but it's the courteous and safe thing to do."

Statewide, there were 93 major injury pedestrian accidents last year, according to the Iowa Department of Transportation.

chicken crossing the road

A six-foot chicken spent several hours last week traversing campus crosswalks to remind drivers of the rights of pedestrians at marked crossings. Photo by Bob Elbert.