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UVA student pushes to ban cars from the corner

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:52 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - The future of the historic corner at the University of Virginia could be car free, according to one student. He claims it would be good for students, the school, and the community.

Right now, the corner is split off from the Rotunda and other UVA buildings by University Avenue. In an op-ed in UVA’s student-run paper The Cavalier Daily, third-year student Noah Strike argues that in the future, traffic could be routed around it, letting walkers and bikers fill the space.

“The honest inspiration came from almost getting hit by one too many cars when I was crossing the street between the corner and grounds,” Strike explains. “When we’re walking, we’re like terrified of, you know, getting hit by a car, of people not seeing the flashing signs.“

Traffic safety isn’t the only thing that Strike says could be improved. He also points out that the neighborhood would be much quieter without cars running through the heart of grounds.

“I mean it’s very loud,” Strike said. “Especially when people come through with their big rumbling engines. We don’t necessarily feel safe.”

The pandemic offers the perfect chance to reconsider the way things are, Strike argues.

“Reconsider our reliance on the cars, reconsider the way that we plan our cities, specifically the way that we plan areas that are frequented by pedestrians that don’t necessarily need cars,” he said.

Third-year student Rachel Hightman says it would be nice and partially agrees: as it stands, the corner is not safe for people walking and biking.

“If you’re on the corner, right now, it’s super unsafe to be a pedestrian or cyclist or kind of anything in between there,” she said.

However, the article has sparked some concerns among the businesses that call the corner home. Hightman works at Ragged Mountain Running Shop and says they’re already discussing the potential impacts.

“They said like, ‘Are our customers gonna be able to get to our store if the corner is pedestrianized?’” Hightman recalled. “You know, we have customers that come from Staunton, from further, from out of state.”

Hightman says that while it’s a great idea there are steps that can, and should, be taken first.

“I think before you even consider that, you really need to consider general pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure, and safety generally,” she explained. “I would love to see some bike lanes on Emmet Street.”

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