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Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico State's independent student newspaper

The Orion

Chico streets are whack

Photo credit: Helen Suh

Have you ever felt like you were risking your life simply crossing the street in Chico? I know I have.

The streets of downtown, the CHICO streets (Chestnut, Hazel, Ivy, Cherry, Orange) and any street near campus are jam packed with pedestrians, cars, bikers and boarders. In my opinion, driving, walking, biking or skateboarding in Chico is overly hectic and can even be unsafe.

I face two roads every day that seem unsafe, Eighth and Ninth streets. I live on the south side of the roads, and my roommates and I have to cross them at least twice every day walking to campus.

No one ever seems to stop for the college student simply trying to get to class. Everyone zooms by going way over the 35 mph speed limit.

Ultimately, I have to dodge through traffic usually breaking into a light jog and have definitely experienced some close calls.

It’s like playing human Frogger multiple times every day.

Other than the one-ways on Highway 32, the one-ways all around Chico are difficult in general.

When I was first touring the college campus, I was driving around town with my parents, and my dad drove down a one-way the wrong way twice in one day.

Not because he wasn’t paying attention, but because Chico is just block after block with so many intersections, and the one-ways seem to come in random places.

One thing that is along many of the one-ways in the downtown area is streetlights that are not above the streets, but on the sides. It’s not uncommon to see someone running a red light, presumably by accident.

In my opinion these lights that aren’t above the road are just plain dangerous. They are hard to see and easy to misinterpret.

I live in a completely residential neighborhood on a street that goes nowhere, but for some reason people seem to treat it like a freeway.

It’s not uncommon to look out the window and see a car going at least 45 mph. It’s also not uncommon to be awoken by a revving engine trying to go even faster down a street where the speed limit is 25 mph.

As a whole I have also noticed that drivers don’t seem to care or acknowledge bikers, boarders or pedestrians. I have numerous friends who have been hit by careless drivers who zoom through the intersection-filled streets with no thoughts of anyone but themselves. One of my neighbors was recently hit by a car while on his motorcycle.

I personally have almost been the victim of being hit by a careless driver on my walk to school numerous times.

Every time I am almost hit simply crossing the street I look into the car and see someone who is college aged and is clearly making a point not to look at me.

I’ve also seen plenty of people on their phones when this happens and even seen someone blow through a stop sign.

Ultimately, the streets downtown are just a mess of pedestrians, bikers and skateboarders mixed dangerously with careless and speeding college-aged drivers.

Recently, there has been work to increase the safety on the roads downtown. The new light on Nord Avenue was designed specifically to protect the numerous students that cross the busy avenue on their way to and from school.

The new light is a huge step in the right direction toward increasing student safety on the road.

I think a great next step would be adding lights on Eighth, Ninth and Ivy streets intersections and at least adding crosswalks on Hazel and Chestnut streets and Normal Avenue.

In addition, adding more stop signs and crosswalks throughout the CHICO streets and college neighborhoods could make the near-death experiences less frequent.

But most of all, college-aged students need to stop speeding down residential streets and driving carelessly.

One thing I love about Chico is that I can walk to campus. But it would be even better if I felt like I could walk to campus with a greater sense of safety.

Alex Horne can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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  • L

    Logan Asher // May 13, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Man! You should get a combat infantry badge for sustaining the war zone that seems to be your front yard. If you want me to I can possibly send you a Costco-sized tub of Vagisil so you can tend to your injuries. Another option would be to just leave Chico all together and take as many people with you as you can. Sounds to me like the infrastructure of Chico can’t sustain the population growth. Not to mention most native Chicoans wouldn’t mind witnessing a mass exodus of people that aren’t from here. Just saying what everyone’s thinking.

  • J

    Jim Smith // May 13, 2016 at 10:44 am

    I feel bad for you. Having been born and raised in Chico, and as a kid riding my bike everywhere, I had little to no problems. Of course this was the late 40’s throught the 50’s when the populaton was about 12,000. Times have changed, but I agree that somehow making it “cool” to observe the rules, speed limits, etc., and show common courtesy to others who share the roads woud go a long way towards remedying the problems.

  • M

    Megan Mann // May 12, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    While I agree that there are some very careless drivers in Chico who ignore pedestrians and bikers, I must say that the pedestrians and bikers in this town are not blameless in this situation. I’m a very safe and vigilant driver, but I’ve almost hit pedestrians who will completely ignore traffic and either walk on a red light or on a green light with a red “No Walk” signal (the only time it’s legal to walk on a green light is if there ISN’T a pedestrian crossing signal. If there is one, you must wait until you are instructed to go). They’ll be absorbed in their phones and not paying attention to oncoming traffic, and pedestrians near my apartment complex always have a bad habit of wearing dark colors in the dead of night, which means that they can’t be seen. Just because pedestrians have the right away in the eyes of the law does not mean that they should act recklessly while walking.

    And bikers aren’t blameless either because they cross in and out of traffic with no hand signals, and even ignore Yield and Stop signs (you have to observe all regular traffic laws on a bike, people).

    You cannot place the blame solely on drivers in this town, because I have never seen such careless and daring bikers and pedestrians as the ones that are here in Chico.