Among the more than 1,300 signatures on a petition urging city Mayor Andy Fellows to increase safety measures along Route 1 is the name of Cory Hubbard’s father.
Hubbard, a 22-year-old university student, was killed in a hit-and-run near the Route 1 and Knox Road intersection in January. George Washington University senior Carlos Pacanins died of injuries after he was hit by a car while crossing near the same intersection last week. Another pedestrian was hit while crossing near R.J. Bentley’s early Saturday morning.
The Change.org petition, started by junior community health major Megan Keane on Thursday evening, asks for a brick wall to be built on the edge of the sidewalk outside Cornerstone Grill and Loft and Bentley’s to prevent future accidents.
“You drive past those bars … and there are hundreds of kids on the sidewalk, inches away from the street. And it’s just like, ‘How has nobody thought of this before?’” Keane said. “[A brick wall] will just keep them in closed barriers on the sidewalk; it will keep them from going out into the street, whether they mean to or not.”
Fellows said he does not think constructing a sidewalk barrier is the best remedy because barriers “tend to not look very nice and not be pedestrian-friendly,” though he said he is open to discussion.
“This is the second time this has happened this year,” said Fellows. “It’s increased the priority of doing as much as we can to address this, but I’m not so sure the barriers are the way to go.”
Fellows and other council members voted at Tuesday’s city council work session to send a letter to the State Highway Administration with requests to improve pedestrian safety. These requests included reducing the speed limit, installing an automatic walk signal and investing in stronger lighting along the road. Measures the council hopes to take include increasing police presence on Route 1 and starting an educational safety campaign to teach residents and students about the dangers of jaywalking.
Casey McGinnis, a senior English major, said the council’s suggestions would improve the situation but building a wall would be most effective.
“The amount of people that just jaywalk after the bars is just crazy, so I think that wall would definitely help and prevent that,” said McGinnis, a friend of Hubbard.
Pacanins was a Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity member at George Washington University, making this a personal issue for this university’s Greek community, Greek life members said.
When Alex Polak, president of the Theta Chi fraternity chapter at this university, saw the petition, he emailed it to the presidents of every chapter in the Interfraternity Council, Panhellenic Association, National Pan-Hellenic Council and the United Greek Council asking them to sign and forward it to their members.
Before the junior civil engineering major sent out the email Thursday night, he said there were about 30 signatures, but by Friday, it had reached about 800.
On Friday, Prince George’s County Police installed flashing signs on Route 1 medians to instruct pedestrians to use crosswalks and warn drivers of pedestrians in the street. Prince George’s County Police officers also distributed pamphlets the same night, informing pedestrians they could face fines up to $500 for failure to obey traffic laws.
Keane said she does not think reducing the speed limit or the flashing sign will deter drivers from unsafe behavior.
“That’s like, ‘good try,’ but I really think there are better things they could do to help not only the safety of students but also the safety of the whole community,” Keane said. “It’s way too many people that are getting injured.”
Andrew Robillard, a senior economics and finance major and a friend of Hubbard, said he will meet with University Police Chief David Mitchell today to discuss further measures the city can take to improve safety.
“In a few short months this community has seen two young adults, months away from receiving their respective degrees, stripped of their lives due to a lack of security measures that should have been in place for years,” Robillard wrote in a message. “Both of these casualties are ones that could have been prevented, and I want to make sure that no other group of friends, families and loved ones has to deal with such a tragic loss.”