WEEK ONE: Empathize
A quick list I collected of problems: Bus stops, Next Bus App, Bikes are not cleared away, Tutoring resources, not enough bike racks, Bike path signs, Dining hall food, More bus stops within east bank. From 8 am–3 pm UMN should be a car free campus. Buildings except the library are not open for use on Sunday. Receive housing before schedules are made. Wooden bridge bounces to Sanford bounces too much. Bike path locations are awkward, specifically between the bridge and Bruininks. Bike intersections. More fountains on campus? Vegetation on the buildings. More white boards and markers around campus. More closed group study places that are reservable. Better gopher way guidance. Wishing wells to fundraise in the gopher way. Food sucks.
For week one, I have identified problems at the University of Minnesota through the students eyes. I will explain these problems, assess their importance, and point out the differences that could be made if they were to be resolved.
Observation:Bikers vs. Walkers-
As someone who bikes to every class, I notice the chaos that can ensue between bikers and walkers around campus every day. I have seen at least two times where bikers and walkers have collided, fortunately , no one was ever injured. However, that is not always the case… A friend mine who lives down the hall said her sorority sister was hit by a biker and had to go to the hospital. She had gashes all over body and was diagnosed with a severe concussion that required brain surgery.
So the results from bikes crashing into people can be pretty serious, but how can they be stopped? Obviously bike paths are their to minimize this problem, and this does create some separation between bikes and walkers. But then there are the clashing points. On the bike path through the Northrop mall and between the River bridge and Brunicks Hall, there is always a intense line of bikers dodging walkers at the intersections. Walkers tend to wait until the bikers go by, but every once and a while some people are not paying attention to their surroundings and test their luck.
As far as trafficking goes, I think the U could definitely set up some more signs and and bike path lines to reduce the risk of collisions. Before the weird grey area where bikers and walkers intermingle around Bruinicks hall, more signs to slow down and yield to walking pedestrians could be set up on the bike path. Currently, there is a yield sign for the bikers, however it is at the end of the path right before the area where all the walkers walk, so you will not see it until your right by all the walkers. Even if you saw it anyway, its all faded and cracked away. There not not enough signs on Northrop mall either, so bikers will not slow down and walkers move at their own risk.
If more precautions were devised to remind bikers to slow down and yield to walkers, I think the amount of collisions could be drastically reduced. Perhaps some larger more bold signs that are not peeling away should be set up, and keeping the bike path posted on the ground so walkers know what they are heading into could help as well. These are some little things that could help a lot.
Conversation: The Gopher Way
My friends Chris Shirley, a senior here at the U I know from high school had a lot to rant about when it comes to the Gopher way. For one, he said as a freshman that the guidance to using the gopher way was not great. I have heard this complaint from many other people too. He said that making a more clear map of where each tunnel goes would have been a good start. Chris also hates the fact that you can not cross from the mall to Coffman. This is a great inconvenience to him, but he said its not likely that they will no carry out such an extensive build to create a new tunnel while were around. One thing he thinks that can feasibly be improved is the main bridge over the Mississippi. He says during the summer that the inclosed area bakes you alive, and there is no circulation. He thinks that if there were sliding windows to let a breeze and circulation in, that the walk over the bridge indoors would not be as bad. On the other hand, during the winter Chris would like to have some heat inside the bridge walkway as well. While I, as a freshman, can not attest to the bridges weather proofing, he said that the insulation sucks, so there’s that.
Another idea Chris threw into the mix was that garbage cans are overflowing. He thinks if the school took advantage of self composting garbage cans, energy could be saved, and smells could be avoided. I looked up and saw that other universities around the country use self composting garbage cans. In my opinion thats a pretty cool idea, and hopefully it could be implemented on Campus here.
Experience: Struggles of the Campus Connector, and Buses in general.
As a freshman who’s dorm is on the Saint Paul campus, the Campus Connector to the East Bank is a dreaded but necessary routine in my life. Me and my hall buddies estimated we spend around an hour and a half waiting for, or riding, the bus everyday. Multiply that by about 30 days per month, and 3.5 months a semester and your looking at around 157.5 hours worth of time a semester spent on the bus. In my opinion, that’s a lot of time, and with the importance of time management in a college schedule, that’s a big waste.
From my own opinions, and the people I talk to, I believe that there are some pitfalls in the Universities set up of the Campus connector that could be improved.
Before you even get on the bus, it sucks. The university of Minnesota suggests NextBus app for students use to get “real time” information on when the next bus arrival is at your stop. From my peer’ and my personal experience, the estimates on this app are absolute garbage. Whether I’m heading to class in the morning or meandering back from a night in Dinky Town, the Next Bus app’s estimates are usually five to fifteen minutes off. No, its not a life threatening problem, but having some accuracy on the buses arrival time would add on those precious minutes to your morning to routine. It will also keep you from running a 100 meter dash out of dinky town into the pleasant street oval, because the bus won’t be back for another 45 minutes. I think improving the Next Buss app would be a great step toward helping everyone gain some extra time and assurance in their day.
Another issue I have with the campus connector system is the bus stop themselves. Winter is coming, and as someone from Saint Louis, Missouri, I expect the Minnesota winters provide me a whole new definition of cold. One of the worst parts about being out in this cold weather will be waiting for the bus. For some reason the University of Minnesota provided the Bailey Hall stop with a heater in little bus stop shelter, but I have not seen one anywhere else. Since every night I, along with many others, wait for the bus from ten to thirty minutes, it would be great If they could provide heaters at other stops around the East and West Bank. When the weather gets down to negative temperatures, having to wait outside for such a long time in freezing temperatures will be a pretty rough time. If the University provided more heating to bus stops and maybe redesigned waiting area that could insulate a little better, Winter definitely seem a little more survivable.