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University of Utah Ramps Up Sidewalk Safety Efforts

Aug. 13, 2013 – University of Utah’s Board of Trustees approved changes today to a policy that enhances safety for pedestrians across campus. The changes aim to make sidewalks safer by increasing fines and other consequences for safety violations, such as speeding or not yielding to pedestrians.

The policy applies to non-motorized riding devices, such as bicycles, skateboards, roller skates, rollerblades and scooters, but does not include wheelchairs or strollers.

“We want to encourage the campus community to use sustainable transportation methods and live an active lifestyle but not at the expense of safety,” said Arnie Combe, vice president for Administrative Services. “The policy changes allow us to make people accountable for being responsible and respectful on campus sidewalks.”

The university will launch a safety campaign, called Sidewalks Are For Everyone, or SAFE, beginning Aug. 26, aimed at educating people about the rules and sidewalk safety habits. The policy enforces a 10-mph speed limit for all non-motorized vehicles, excludes skateboards from riding in parking lots or roadways, requires riders to yield to pedestrians, prohibits non-motorized vehicles from riding on stairways, grass, benches, etc., among other precautionary measures. As part of the campaign, safety ambassadors across campus will reward people for safe behavior, hand out educational brochures and report dangerous behavior.

“We want all sidewalk users to take ownership by being aware of their surroundings, including pedestrians, who can become distracted by texting or miss auditory signals when they wear headphones,” said Combe.

To enforce the policy, the university will have additional security staff to supplement the U’s Department of Public Safety. These security officers will actively patrol campus on bicycles. Violators will receive a written warning for their first offense. For the second offense, the rider will have their vehicle impounded for a minimum of 48 hours and receive a minimum $100 fine if the event occurs within two years of the warning. After the second violation, riders will have their vehicles impounded for a minimum of 30 days and be subject to an escalating schedule of fines.

The policy can be viewed here.