Police chief: New stop signs planned along Mulberry

Published: February 18, 2016

Staff Writer

AQUINAS PHOTO  / VINCENT SOTTILE / POLICE CHIEF Donald Bergmann handed out a copy of the new stop sign during the senate meeting Friday, which will stand on Mulberry Street.

AQUINAS PHOTO / VINCENT SOTTILE / POLICE CHIEF Donald Bergmann handed out a copy of the new stop sign during the senate meeting Friday, which will stand on Mulberry Street.

A student crossing Mulberry Street was struck by a motorist on Oct. 28 at 5:04 p.m. and another student on Dec. 2 at 5:30 p.m. On Sept. 9, Sept. 23, Oct. 14 and Dec.1, safety initiatives were held in which University police were stationed on both sides of Mulberry Street as well as on all four corners of Jefferson Avenue and Linden Street. Police had conversations with students and handed out pamphlets with safety information regarding tips for pedestrians and motorists.

One of the accidents occurred just a day after a safety initiative, which created uneasiness among
The University community.

At a Student Government senate meeting Feb. 12, the director of public safety and The University police chief, Donald Bergmann, announced that University police will continue to carry out pedestrian safety initiatives and will implement new stop signs on Mulberry Street sidewalks in the
upcoming weeks.

University police cars have been parking on Mulberry Street and Scranton police have been told to issue citations to drivers speeding through Mulberry Street. The next safety initiatives are scheduled for March 1 from 1-2 p.m. and March 10
from 7-8 p.m.

During the senate meeting, Bergmann stated, “We’ve been doing pedestrian safety initiatives for a couple years now. Initially the big problem was Jefferson and Linden. I think we’ve done a really good job with that,” and, “My real concern now is Mulberry Street.”

Bergmann also addressed an important misconception with Pennsylvania Law and crosswalks — if you’re in the crosswalk, you have the right of way.

“But the key word here is in,” Bergmann said. “If you’re on the sidewalk, you’re not in the crosswalk, so you cannot assume vehicles will stop for you.”

When asked about future plans regarding safety, Bergmann replied, “We’re always looking for new things to do,” and, “Our focus for this semester is going to be Mulberry Street.”

University police will be meeting with PennDOT (Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) to look at current signs, whether they are in the right place and if adjustments need to be made. A speed sign may also be set up that will tell motorists how fast they are going.

In regard to the institution of precautionary measures like speed bumps, it would fall outside of campus jurisdiction and would need to be approved by the city of Scranton and PennDOT, Bergmann said. Mulberry is a major street with heavy traffic and it is also vital to emergency vehicles.

Ambulances are constantly going to and from Geisinger Community Medical Center while fire trucks and police cars make frequent use of the road.

“I am certain that PennDOT would not approve of speed bumps,” Bergmann said.

University student Ryan Fitzpatrick said, “A lot of the time the crosswalk lights are flashing and no one is around. You can’t even assume that there’s somebody there because they’re always flashing anyway.”

He also felt that a traffic light at Monroe Avenue and Mulberry Street or Quincy Avenue and Mulberry Street would be beneficial.

“It’s a very popular crossing area and there’s a lot of traffic,” Fitzpatrick said. “A traffic light would be good for both pedestrians and vehicles.”

Robert Kelly, policy and compliance manager of The University Police was present during the interview with Bergmann and added, “When crossing, I stop, look both ways and wait for the driver to acknowledge me. I’ve had students walk right past me and go into the crosswalk assuming cars will stop.”

At the end of the interview, Bergmann was asked what he felt was the most important advice for pedestrians. He replied, “Don’t assume that cars are going to stop.” Students will see the new stop signs for pedestrians, which will, “be a reminder to stop and to look both ways. If everybody does that and is patient in waiting for a break in traffic or for someone to stop for you, I’m confident that we can all cross the street safely.”

Contact the writer: vincent.sottile@scranton.edu

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