Sunday, April 27, 2014

Where Jaywalking Seems Normal

Posted by Asia Lawrence, ATLANTA, GA – Georgia State University (GSU) is literally located in the heart of downtown Atlanta.  So with close to 33,000 students traversing the campus going and coming to class either walking or on bicycles, downtown traffic, and an integrated campus-city building density to rival New York City, there’s a lot of jaywalking going on. Jaywalking is any pedestrian crossing the street either against the crossing light or outside of a crosswalk. Technically it’s against the law.  

Yet, I have observed jaywalking among students, faculty, staff and other downtown pedestrians such as business folks, state employees, and tourists. There appears to be some kind of perception of ‘crowd safety’. In other words, if you’re walking across the street against the light in a crowd there’s no way a car will hit you, nor a law enforcement agent giving you a ticket. There has only been one pedestrian fatality on the GSU campus in the last five years, and that individual wasn’t jaywalking. Likewise, despite both GSU and Atlanta law enforcement regularly traversing the area, I haven’t even heard of anyone getting a jaywalking ticket. 

It’s been like this since I got to GSU almost four years ago, but with an ever increasing student population, and with more and more students living on campus, I’m beginning to fear for people’s safety. No, nothing has happened yet but with the campus growing, it might. The GSU has been putting in new lighted crosswalks so there are high traffic areas where people do heed stops lights. However this is far from comprehensive.

The good news is that GSU does have a master plan for the future of the campus that includes designated pedestrian-only spaces through which students, faculty and staff will be able to traverse the campus without going on main thoroughfares. This plan would maintain the GSU campus as being “a part of the city, not apart from the city” while at the same time cutting down on street pedestrian traffic.

Asia Lawrence is a graduating senior with a major in Sociology with an emphasis in African American Studies at Georgia State University. He can be contacted at

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