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Students crossing

If you have ever walked the streets of St. John’s after a snow storm, you know how dangerous this can be and how much havoc it can cause. On my way to Memorial the other morning I was appalled by what I saw – countless students walking in the middle of the road.

St. John’s, and the surrounding area, had just been hit by more than 40 centimetres of snow and the sidewalks had not been cleared properly. This has been a serious issue for quite some time, especially in school districts.

The last time I checked, Elizabeth Avenue, Prince Philip Drive and Allandale Road were all neighbouring roads to Memorial. So, I wonder, why are the sidewalks and bus stops not adequately cleared for students? Thousands of university students live in and around this area and rely on walking to school or taking a nearby bus daily.

Students should feel safe when they walk out of their houses in the morning and commence their commute to school. They should not have to worry whether the roads, sidewalks and bus stops have been appropriately cleared. Not to mention that even if the sidewalks are cleared, there is likely a sheet of ice under the snow. Thus, it is crucial that salt be put down as well. Students are already irritated that they have to shovel themselves out of their driveways and houses, let alone worry if they can get to school via their designated pathway.

What about those crazed morning drivers? If students are walking in the streets, basically because they have no other choice, this frustrates drivers – especially those who have yet to have their morning dose of caffeine! Students are essentially risking their lives as road rage tends to be at higher levels in the morning, particularly when snow is an additional factor that may slow down morning traffic.

This is not only an issue for the pedestrians, it also concerns students waiting at bus stops. The bus stops are not usually cleared properly either, therefore students are standing in the streets, once again causing drivers to aimlessly honk their horns as they pass encouraging the students to move off the streets. But what if they have nowhere else to stand? As a result, students and vehicles are zig-zagging around each other trying to avoid a collision.

I can say with certainty that students who have to commute to school are more likely to be absent from class in the winter semester due to the fact that, well, walking in the snow is dreadful. It is a nightmare to think about having to sit through classes all day with soaking wet clothing. This just irritates students further. There is nothing more annoying than shivering uncontrollably because your pant legs or socks are drenched.

This problem is not confined to the university area, and has become an increasing concern throughout the city. There is no doubt that the council of the City of St. John’s is aware of this issue, so why hasn’t something been done about it already? Surely the snowclearing policies can be adjusted to accommodate and ensure the safety of all students and pedestrians. It is truly absurd.