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

March 31, 2006

Walking, riding, driving smart: a few tips

by Samantha Beres

The end of spring break means warmer weather to come. Buds will bloom and so will pedestrian traffic. There's more people out and about, more bikers, skateboarders, you name it.

While most of us know the general rules of the road, Inside thought it might be helpful to ask Doug Houghton for a few reminders. Here's what the manager of the parking division, department of public safety, offered, in the interest of safety and courtesy:

Motorists: Yield to pedestrians

If you're driving a car, you're required by Iowa law to yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. This, said Houghton, is the most important rule for motorists. He pointed out that it's much like leaving your driveway and yielding to oncoming traffic. You can't enter a crosswalk unless you can do so without interfering with the pedestrian crossing the road. If the pedestrian has to break stride because you didn't yield, you've violated the law.

Pedestrians: Be aware of your surroundings

These days, a lot of people are either on the phone or plugged in. Pedestrians in the crosswalks are crossing correctly but need to be aware of their surroundings, said Houghton.

"Cell phones and iPods are a distraction, and crossing the street requires your attention," he said. "And your mother was right all along: Look both ways before you cross the street."

Motorists: Be willing to slow down

One thing we all need to remember, Houghton said, is that Iowa State is a pedestrian campus. So, it helps to be willing to slow down on campus roads. Also, when you're behind the wheel, remember that you're going to park and become a pedestrian, too.

Pedestrians: Be responsible for yourself

If you're a pedestrian, you should always try to cross at a crosswalk. If you decide not to use a crosswalk to cross the street, you don't have the right-of-way. It's your job to yield to traffic. In either case -- when using a crosswalk or not -- you should not jump into the street or step off the curb if it looks like a driver isn't going to stop (even though he or she should). Don't confuse drivers by standing at the curb if you are not going to cross the street. Use the crossing signal if one is available.

Bikers: Follow the rules of the road

For the most part, bikers should follow the rules that motorists follow. For instance, if a biker comes to a red light, he or she should stop. The only place the rules are different is on the designated bike paths throughout campus. Houghton recommends that bikers learn the designated bike paths and use them as often as possible.

It's worth noting, Houghton said, that most of us are both pedestrians and motorists. Respecting one another may not be a "rule," but it sure makes things go more smoothly out there.


"Your mother was right all along. Look both ways before you cross the street."

Doug Houghton, parking division manager, ISU department of public safety