West Campus lighting walk-through allows West Campus residents to highlight lighting concerns

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Mike McHone, center left, points out the difference in available lighting around West Campus at the West Campus Walkthrough. The event, organized by SafeHorns, addressed West Campus lighting and safety concerns by inviting students to walk through West Campus and mark concerning locations.

Photo Credit: Jessica Joseph | Daily Texan Staff

On Thursday’s West Campus lighting walk-through, city officials pointed out some of the most dangerous areas around West Campus.

Staff from the Austin Transportation Department began the walk-through by presenting data collected from the Austin Police Department between 2012 and 2016. The data showed that the most crashes occurred on Guadalupe Street, and most crimes between the 22nd and 26th streets along Guadalupe. Those attending the walk-through were also encouraged to pinpoint specific locations that were of concern to them on a physical map.

Following the presentation, Joel Meyer, the ATD pedestrian coordinator, led a group of about 10 students and concerned citizens on a walk through West Campus.

Biochemistry senior Elizabeth Herrin participated in the walk-through and pointed out that 28th and 29th streets are usually not well-lit. She said there are some initiatives the University has already taken to make students who have to walk through some of these areas feel safer, and should continue to do so.

“They started (with) police patrolling cars which have made all the difference,” Herrin said, adding that switching the lights to LED would also make a big difference.

Meyer said the purpose of the walk-through was also for ATD to do inventory on which areas were lacking lights as well which lights were not working.

“Part of the inventory we’re doing is letting Austin Energy know about these places,” Meyer said. “You can always call 311 and let them know and they should fix it, but sometimes people don’t do that.”

During the walk-through, Meyer observed that there were other infrastructural issues besides lighting in some areas of West Campus.

“One thing I noticed was that in addition to lighting there were sidewalk obstructions, curbs that aren’t there,” Meyer said. “The good news is that (the money) that is getting better lighting is also going to go to the sidewalks.”

In March, ATD plans to use all the information it has received through the walk-through and its lighting survey to give city council an idea of West Campus residents’ concerns about lighting and other infrastructural problems. Joell McNew, vice president of the nonprofit SafeHorns, said students should be aware of such issues and actively voice their concerns.

“All of this information will be collected and presented to city council,” McNew said. “If students show up to the city council when Joel gives this presentation, it really supports (their) voice.”