For Brooklyn College students, getting to class on time is equivalent to running an obstacle course. Students are expected to use the 10 minute break between classes to find their way through campus. Although many factors contribute to student tardiness, the crosswalk at Bedford Avenue is no exception. “Some days, between the high school students and the steady stream of texters, who fail to look up from their phones or walk at a New York pace, I barely make it to class on time,” said Carolina Guarrella, a double major in both political science and psychology. For Guarrella, navigating this obstacle course almost proved deadly when she nearly got run over by a bus while crossing Bedford Avenue. Her heeled boots didn’t help matters as she rapidly made her way from James Hall to New Ingersoll. “I was nervous I would be a bit late, so I was not being as attentive as I should have been.”
While students rush to class, professors rush to close the classroom door. Not only are latecomers a distraction, but they often forget that their grades depend on attendance. Although some professors do not tolerate lateness, others are more understanding. “I allow five to ten minutes grace period,” said Samuel Gold, a literature professor. “After that, even if you stay, you’re marked absent.” Patricia Cai, an anatomy and physiology professor, has a firmer policy. She believes that 10 minutes is sufficient for healthy students to get to class in a timely manner, or else a penalty is given. “Being on time is a matter of respect and discipline. If penalization works, then yes, students should be penalized.”
The stoplight at the Bedford Avenue crosswalk does not help matters either. During rush hour, a large crowd of students can be seen waiting to cross the street as cars and buses zoom by. “It seems impossible to pull a standard New Yorker move and dive into the street the minute I see an opportunity to beat the light,” said Guarrella. Lilia Melani, a film and literature professor, agrees that it is tempting, “particularly if you’re pressed for time, to run across the street, even if cars may be approaching.” She admitted that over the years several students suffered minor injuries due to the crosswalk.
On the other hand, an officer who chose to remain anonymous, claims that there have not been many accidents along the crosswalk on Bedford Avenue. “Nothing serious, just sometimes cars have minor accidents,” he said. He went on to say, “We used to have a bridge, but they took it down because it was dangerous.” When asked what can be done to create a safer atmosphere on Bedford Avenue, Cai said, “We should make the block to be pedestrian only, or make a portion of the block a no standing anytime zone and enforce it by fining with the presence of traffic officers periodically.”