Letter: Danger on Lincoln Way

To Iowa State University, the City of Ames, and residents,

I’d like to express my deepest condolences to the friends and family of Emmalee Jacobs for their loss. I lost a best friend to a hit and run cycling accident this summer in Des Moines myself. Not a day goes by I do not think about him. 

Unfortunately, the death of Emmalee shines a tragic light on the glaring fact that if you are a pedestrian on Lincoln Way near Iowa State University you are in harms way. Lincoln Way was primarily designed with cars in mind and pedestrians secondary. 

The area around Lincoln Way and campus has the highest density of people living in Ames and will continue to grow as more high-rise housing and student dormitories are built. Both the city of Ames and Iowa State University need to reconsider how they view this area, putting a priority on pedestrian safety. 

Regardless of the intersection, the fatality occurred in part because the City of Ames and Iowa State University fail to work together in locations where ISU property and City property intersect. This institutional lack of courage by both organizations to communicate produces spaces that are neglected in both a policy and planning perspective. The result is places that are not safe for Ames residents or ISU students. 

It is completely unacceptable to expect that anyone who is attempting to walk to campus should have to engage in the real life version of the old arcade game Frogger, dodging traffic and running to the middle boulevard for safety from on-coming traffic. Especially when Iowa State University claims to be a walking campus. 

Making Lincoln Way safe for pedestrians will require Iowa State University officials, City of Ames Officials and residents to be leaders and make decisions for the safety of everyone and not the convenience of driving. 

You get what you plan. If you plan for cars, you get all the issues surrounding automobiles. If you plan for people, you make a place where people feel safe and want to be. People want to live in Ames and easily access Iowa State University by foot. 

To the engineers, planners, and officials, high-visibility signage does not make anywhere more accessible or safer for pedestrians.  

If you need a metric by which to measure the safety of Lincoln Way consider whether or not you would let your own children cross the street by themselves near campus. Every parent who sends their son or daughter to Ames and Iowa State University is entrusting you with the responsibility of their young adults. 

Ames and ISU’s greatest asset is its residents, students, staff and faculty. Invest in them by keeping them safe.