Why it's hard to get around at the U these days

Not the most accessible place

From an Associated Press report on the MPR Web site:

U of M move-day promises traffic gridlock

It’s move-in day at the dorms on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, and thousands of freshmen and their families are navigating road and building projects.

The big move-in starts a week before classes begin and kicks off Welcome Week, which is six days of orientation and on-campus activities.

The university says some staff members will be on hand to help, including President Eric Kaler in the afternoon.

Move-in day is always a little stressful, but this year it could be more so because Washington Avenue – the main street through campus – is closed for construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail line.

Here’s a U press release:

Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians urged to use extra caution navigating U of M campus

U of M officials kick-off “Safety is Easy, the Pavement is Hard” campaign —University of Minnesota officials are urging anyone navigating the Twin Cities campus this fall to use extra caution as a result of large-scale road and building construction projects in the area.

Washington Avenue – a main artery through campus – is closed for construction of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit line (CCLRT), slated to open in 2014. That means bicyclists, pedestrians and drivers are sharing campus sidewalks, roadways and streets.

With the fall semester beginning on Sept. 6, thousands of students and faculty are returning to campus in the coming weeks. Nearly 18,000 faculty and staff work at the U of M and about 50,000 students attend school here.

To ease anticipated congestion the university has taken several steps, such as installing new stop lights, implementing new bus routes and creating additional bike lanes.

In addition, the U is kicking off a “Safety is Easy, the Pavement is Hard” campaign, which targets pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists via posters, banners and chalk sprayed messages displayed throughout campus.

“Biker, pedestrian and driver safety is paramount with light rail construction on Washington and University avenues,” said Kathleen O’Brien, vice president for University Services. “That means everyone must slow down and be alert and courteous to others while navigating through campus.”

Basic messages of the “Safety is Easy, the Pavement is Hard” campaign include:

For pedestrians

  • Wait for “walk” signals on street corners.
  • Take earphones out. Don’t tune out while walking.
  • Look both ways before crossing any the street or intersection.

For bicyclists

  • Don’t run red stoplights.
  • Watch for turning cars in both directions.
  • Stay off sidewalks.

For motorists

  • Watch for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Don’t text and drive.
  • Slow down.
  • Stay extra alert at all times.

“Following some basic safety rules will make everyone safer and help get them to their destination quicker,” O’Brien said.

For more information about the campaign and tips on how to stay safe, visit: http://www1.umn.edu/prepared/safety-is-easy.html.