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Campus ought to be pedestrian-friendly

Jan. 26, 2001

Each Friday this semester, the editorial board will address an issue that we think needs to be incorporated into Baylor's 10-year vision, an effort coordinated largely by Dr. Steven Moore, the vice president for Student Life.

One of the most important problems we see is the need for a pedestrian-friendly campus. Walking across campus between classes is hardly a pleasant experience. In Baylor's recent move to update its facilities and provide better parking and amenities to its students, it should also work to make the campus more pedestrian-friendly.

Sidewalks are worn out and often uneven, and the drainage problem becomes apparent at even the slightest amount of rainfall. All these factors can make getting to class a difficult, lengthy and messy process at times. Walking is the main mode of transportation to and from class for most students, and Baylor should do everything within its power to ensure that the campus allows for students to get from one end of campus to the other in 10 minutes or less. Right now, on certain days, that is impossible.

Long-term plans do include reducing the vehicle traffic on campus, but currently, the state of campus is not prepared for this move. Many more improvements need to be made to make walking to class less of a hassle. All sidewalks should be smoothly surfaced and free of potholes and rough spots that can become dangerous obstacles when a student is hurrying to class or when the surface is slick. The school should also increase the amount of funding devoted to sidewalk upkeep and make sure that priority is given to maintaining high quality sidewalks after they are repaired.

In addition, the drainage problem must be addressed. With just the slightest amount of rain, most parts of campus become engulfed with water that seems to have no place to drain. Baylor and the City of Waco should work co-operatively to find ways to alleviate the problem in the short run and to develop a long-term solution to the problem as well. It is unacceptable for students to have to wade through half a foot of water to get around campus, only to arrive to class with soaked shoes and pants.

Creating a pedestrian-friendly campus would alleviate many of the parking problems that students complain so much about. The trolley system may have to be expanded, but would probably run more efficiently than it does now, since more people would have to use it to get to class.

For those students, faculty and staff who do have to drive to school, Baylor should have a parking garage on each side of campus. The two garages that we have are frequently packed.

With enough parking garages, many, if not all, of the parking lots would not be needed, allowing future construction to be built on these lots. In addition to the new Panhellenic facility that is set to be built on the parking lot outside Collins Residence Hall, plans for a new science building and an addition to the Rogers Engineering and Computer Science building are already in the works. This means more parking lots will have to be built upon, and the parking situation will only get worse.

If the administration plans to make the school a primarily pedestrian campus, it must first make sure the campus allows for that, and that getting to and from class is not a hassle. Right now, it's anything but hassle-free, and it needs attention.