KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — After another Western Michigan University student was hit and killed by an alleged drunk driver last month, a petition calling for more safety measures is gaining traction.
Within a week, more than 4,400 signatures from students and community members are magnifying a call for additional pedestrian safety precautions around off-campus student areas, especially Michigan Avenue and Fraternity Village Drive. Two of them are parents whose reason to sign is beyond personal.
Last November, Colleen and Craig Broderick lost their only daughter, Bailey Broderick, another Western Michigan student who died in the same way as Kaylee Gansberg: while walking across Fraternity Village Drive.
“It’s still really tough,” Craig Broderick said. “Every day, I struggle not to cry. … It hasn’t been easy. And then to hear that this other girl was killed, that really is devastating that it has happened twice in less than a year.”
They believe measures need to be taken to prevent another family from suffering.
“Something’s got to be done. They’ve got to fix this,” Colleen Broderick said. “That petition is so important because our daughter and somebody else’s daughter are no longer here. That’s not right. That’s not the way it should be. The four of us should not be going through this.”
According to city traffic engineers, Gansberg marked the fourth student to die under such circumstances since 2013.
The petition called for crosswalks, a traffic light at Michigan Avenue and Euclid Avenue, speed bumps and slow down speedometers, among other requests. City traffic engineers say they are already working on a few requests listed in the petition, including installing more streetlights and restriping Fraternity Village Drive.
City traffic engineer Dennis Randolph said restriping alone can make a difference.
“(We saw a) two to three mile per hour reduction on the average speed,” Randolph said. “People might say, ‘Well, that’s nothing.’ But when it comes to somebody being hit, that can increase your chances of surviving a hit significantly — two, three, four times. So even that little bit helps a lot.”
Randolph said the restriping should be done by the end of next week. He added the city and Consumers Energy are planning to add more lighting and illuminating pedestrian crossing signs to intersections with high traffic areas within the next year.
But above all else, he urged for ongoing feedback and patience from the community as they also hope to curb a troubling trend.
In a statement, a Western Michigan University spokesperson said, “Leaders are in frequent communication with the city about safety and other issues of mutual concern. We appreciate steps local leaders have taken in the last year to improve pedestrian safety. They shared with us in late April other possible future safeguards. We will continue to discuss with local officials important matters that affect our students.”
The list of those possible future safeguards can be found here (pdf).