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Multiple community members report being struck by vehicles, spurring pedestrian safety concerns

<h5>Signs on a &nbsp;pedestrian crosswalk on Nassau street</h5>
<h6>Sidney Singer / The Daily Princetonian&nbsp;</h6>
Signs on a  pedestrian crosswalk on Nassau street
Sidney Singer / The Daily Princetonian 

At least four people — including one undergraduate student, two graduate students, and one staff member — have been struck by cars on and around campus in the past two months.

Concerns for pedestrian safety have become visible in the Princeton community. The topic came up at this month’s Council of the Princeton Community (CPUC) meeting, after Kay Richardson, an employee at the Lewis Center for the Arts (LCA), was hit by a vehicle during fall break. 

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In response to the concern, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 said at the CPUC meeting, “Exercise caution in driving, wherever you are.” 

Richardson, a Theatre Production Staff member at the LCA, was struck by a vehicle in the afternoon of Oct. 19. 

“I was just walking out leaving the Berlind theater, walking across the street. I was going back to the Lewis Center,” she said. “I was halfway in the crosswalk when I noticed the car coming and when I realized that it wasn't gonna slow down, I tried to speed up so that I wouldn't get hit.”

She explained that she tried to get the attention of the driver, but did not succeed. She said she was off work for two weeks due to the injuries she sustained. 

“I just feel like something has to be done to make people actually slow down and pay attention,” said Richardson. 

Students have also expressed concern about pedestrian safety around campus. 

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Joshua Arce ’24 was hit by a vehicle last month while biking on campus. In his statement to Public Safety — which he forwarded to The Daily Princetonian — he recounted that he was biking down Elm Drive when he saw a white vehicle approaching on the other side of the road. 

He noticed that the car was attempting to turn into Dillon Gymnasium, but he assumed the car would respect his right-of-way. He says that when he realized the car was not going to stop, he attempted to avoid the collision by braking. However, the car refused to yield, and he was struck. He was hospitalized with a sprained shoulder. 

Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss said in an email to the ‘Prince’ that non-authorized vehicles have not been allowed on campus since August, except for select days like move-in.

According to Hotchkiss, “The policy was not put in place due to any specific incident but was instituted in part to prevent accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians.”

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Two graduate students — who were granted anonymity due to the sensitive nature of their story and who will be referred to as Jesse and Kendall in this story — were struck by a vehicle on the night of Oct. 30 while crossing Alexander Street. Both students were hospitalized with injuries. 

The car hit both students as they crossed the crosswalk. Jesse sustained a fractured knee, and Kendall sustained multiple injuries, including a concussion.

On a call with the ‘Prince,’ Jesse recounted the incident. 

“I see a car turning from Faculty Road left onto Alexander. I remember thinking that he was going to stop because I could see him clearly. But then, by the time I realized that he wasn't, it was too late to run away,” they said.  

In an email to the ‘Prince,’ Kendall wrote that they are “shaken emotionally, and not doing the best overall.”

Jesse claimed that while the University has been accommodating after the incident by assigning a caseworker, they wish that there was more support to help them navigate the aftermath of the accident. 

“I just went in blind,” they said. 

Jesse recounted that while they believed the University tried to be helpful, they felt it was unable to provide proper support.

“You definitely need a caseworker that works with motor vehicle accidents, because while I was trying to recover I had to do all this paperwork — figure this out all by myself,” Jesse said. 

Jesse described struggling with the insurance system and having trouble securing medical services at the Princeton Medical Center. They additionally were not able to acquire a mobility scooter due to insurance issues.

Kendall additionally noted that they have had trouble securing University accommodations, such as a scribe, in a timely manner, and that not all professors have been accommodating. They told the ‘Prince’ in an email that they had asked the Office of Disability Services (ODS) for a scribe due to a hand injury. However, two weeks after the incident, they said, they still had not received one.

“The problem is the speed of service and support, not a lack of resources. The problem is the effectiveness of support staff, not a lack of compassion,”  Kendall said.

The ‘Prince’ was not able to independently verify Kendall’s account.

Hotchkiss wrote to the ‘Prince’ that ODS “works diligently to provide reasonable accommodations in each situation.”

“ODS engages in an interactive process to provide such accommodations for students,” Hotchkiss added. “The interactive process can be complicated in some cases and may involve multiple communications with the student as well as collaboration with campus partners.”

Both students did note that the University did provide $200 to go toward expenses such as food. 

Jesse told the ‘Prince’ that they wished the University had done more in this situation.

“I haven't done any schoolwork because I've just been recovering, and exhausted, and trying to figure out all this bureaucratic stuff,” Jesse said.

“I want to go home. I'm a burden honestly, to my roommates and my classmates,” they added.

Sidney Singer is a news contributor for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at sidneysinger@princeton.edu or on Instagram at @sidneysinger.

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