Tower Drive Crosswalk

Students walk past by the Tower Drive crosswalk next to Free Speech Alley in Baton Rouge, La.

Students are working to improve pedestrian safety by beautifying a frequently used crosswalk on campus.

Recently graduated alumni Marshall Mills, Madelyn Cutrone, Charlie Stephens, Emma Chance and Amelia Gabor started working on their project, Tiger Cross, in professor Bob Mann’s political communication capstone class.

The class challenged students to bring awareness to an issue on campus. Tiger Cross was created early in the fall semester, inspired by Gabor’s work with Baton Rouge nonprofit the Center for Planning Excellence. 

“We found a lot of research that showed that creative crosswalks, like crosswalks with art, enhance the space around it and also draw attention. It has actually been proven to improve the safety of pedestrians in particularly dangerous sites,” Gabor said. “And so when we were talking about this in our group, we wanted to look into pedestrian safety on LSU’s campus and see if this was a need that needed to be met.”

LSU’s campus layout requires walking to get to most places, Gabor said, and they observed a need for beautification for the campus’ pedestrian infrastructure. They met with various groups, including LSU Campus Planning, Baton Rouge Gallery, Student Government and College of Art and Design Dean Alkis Tsolakis to plan the project.

According to WBRZ, in March four downtown Baton Rouge intersections were painted over by the Downtown Development District to increase the visibility of the crosswalks. The Center for Planning Excellence also implemented a creative crosswalk in Bunkie with stalks of corn in the painting, and other SEC schools have created crosswalk designs to reflect the culture of their cities, Gabor said.

After months of work, the group was approved to beautify the Tower Drive crosswalk between Free Speech Alley and Coates Hall. They hope to have the project completed within the next month.

“We don't have a design yet, but hopefully [it’s] something LSU themed or just something that kind of captures the spirit of the school and the city,” Chance said.

SG approved SGB 19 in November, authored by Sen. Trevor Cupit, to fund the project. The bill allocates nearly $5,000 for a pressure washer, paint, artist costs and other materials needed to create the design.

The bill notes that Baton Rouge is the 11th deadliest city for pedestrians in the United States, and according to Bloomberg Philanthropies and Sam Schwartz Engineering, beautifying crosswalks can lead to over a 50% decrease in collisions and injuries. 

President William Tate IV has spoken about the prevalence of potholes and dangerous walkways on campus, according to the bill.

“President Tate has explained that [there are] potholes everywhere. No lines on crosswalks. Danger zones are pretty high,’ and further highlights the necessity of ‘beautifying campus’ to contribute to an overall sense of pedestrian safety,” the bill says.

While the Tower Drive crosswalk is the pilot for the project, The group hopes future political communication students will take on the idea and continue bringing attention to pedestrian safety on campus.

“We started off doing this because of the safety aspect – the crosswalks are really bad…There's been so many accidents because cars can't see the crosswalks,” Chance said. “Once people on campus, like administration, stakeholders and all that see the crosswalk over there and how cool it looks and how much attention it's getting…it can be multiplied and replicated with other places on campus to better increase safety.”

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