A Bumpy Start To The School Year

A golf cart drives over the six speed bumps on Lansing Lane. Photo credit: Tana Mardian.

If you’ve driven onto Lansing Lane on Collegiate’s campus, you have experienced the greatest controversy since the change of drinks in McFall Hall: the new speed bumps. They’re impossible to miss, as the Cougar-yellow protrusions shock your car into a violent series of undulations. On the first day of school, students talked about their irritation with colorful language directed at the new rollercoaster. The slightly longer entrance and exit onto campus promoted fury within students, disregarding the possibility that the bumps have a purpose. Now a week into school and stepping away from the outrage, classmates offered more constructive observations.

When asked on their thoughts, most students were delighted to share negative reactions to the six yellow obstructions. Bryce Ritter (‘17) stated that he finds them “unnecessary.” Chase Smullen (‘17) echoed Ritter’s statement while also adding that “one [speed bump] would be adequate.” Lauren Lynch (‘18) worries about the physical harm that they could create, as she stated, “I don’t want to get a concussion everyday from hitting my head on the roof of my car. It happened yesterday, today, and it will happen tomorrow.” Parents feel similar to the frustrated students but recognize their purpose. From her experience of picking up her daughter from practice, Ellie Lynch commented, “I think they are a little excessive, but I understand the intent.” On the other end of the spectrum, Virginia Syer (‘17), Mary Ottley (‘17), and Caroline Hall (‘18) think of the speed bumps as a “roller coaster ride.”

With this information, Jason Stone, Director of Campus Security, gave perspective and insight into the change. There is substantial background to this infamous area, as this was certainly not the first alteration; initially, the space had a simple, flat crosswalk with a stop sign. After witnessing frightening circumstances—students almost getting hit due to distracted drivers and speeds of 30+ miles per hour—Collegiate’s security opted for a raised crosswalk in January of 2010, hoping to bring awareness through an obstacle once carpool started moving through that area. Still, danger persisted. Scuff marks are visible on the crosswalk due to speeding drivers bottoming out on it. Stop signs with flashing lights were the next effort, but to no avail. The security department struggled with this and brought in Margolis Healy, a highly recognized group dedicated to safety at universities and independent schools across the nation. When assessing the safety of our campus, the members of Margolis Healy and the Collegiate security staff emphasized this area as their main concern. The choice came down to a stopping arm, like at a toll booth, or the current speed bumps. Stone suggested the latter as the best option. Following through with the new resolution, Collegiate brought in an engineering team to design the new stopping devices. Once created this summer, security realized that the benefits were twofold; while also slowing down the cars, the change offers the security guards more time to stop unaware pedestrians, as most athletes are rushing to get onto the field for practice, and some drivers are preoccupied with their phones.

Crosswalk construction in 2010.

Crosswalk construction in 2010. Photo credit: Scott Carson.

Much of the students’ unrest arises from the notion that the speed bumps are holding up traffic at the closing of the day. Regarding the interruption in traffic flow, Stone admitted that departure is slower, but this is not solely due to the speed bumps. Other construction on campus, such as the renovation of McFall Hall, causes about 20-30 middle school parents to pick up their children around the main loop at the back of Collegiate. He also added that the first couple weeks of school have some kinks that work themselves out as carpools form.

Stone is simply not concerned with criticism regarding the additions and expressed his views candidly about the consequences of lax measures. He stated, “[The speed bumps] probably [are] a little aggressive, but I’d rather be a little aggressive than have one of you guys get hit by a car.” He continued, “My main goal is to make sure you guys all go home in one piece. If that means you have to hit a couple extra bumps on the way out, then I’m happy with that. I would gladly take a negative comment every day for the rest of my life, as opposed to dealing with the fact that, on my watch, one of you guys got hurt.” His last comment about this controversy offered a response to those doubting the need for the speed bumps: “Almost every security or safety change is somewhat of a nuisance to someone. I think as long as you can justify why it’s there; those speed bumps stopping one person from getting hit by a car would be a good reason for them to be there, if you ask me.”

About the author

Tana Mardian is a senior at Collegiate and has a fear of cotton balls.