Oberlin Campus Safety Installs Signs Warning students Against Jaywalking on West Lorain Street


Erin Koo

Signs placed on West Lorain Street points to the illegal crossing warning students of traffic laws.

In late November, Oberlin College placed signs between the Science Center and Wilder Bowl on West Lorain Street. The signs warn that this section of the road is not a designated crosswalk. Students are advised to walk down the sidewalk to the sanctioned crosswalk rather than endanger themselves by jaywalking in front of cars.

“Since that location is not an official crosswalk, people should not be crossing the street there,” Chief Facilities Officer Kevin Brown wrote in an email to the Review. “It is a safety hazard and potentially a minor misdemeanor under the law.”

According to Ohio Law Section 4511.48, pedestrians should yield to oncoming traffic when not accessing a crosswalk. This, in turn, means that students risk endangering themselves when crossing the street, as cars do not have to yield to pedestrians when there is an illegal crossing.

“Every pedestrian crossing a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right of way to all vehicles, trackless trolleys, or streetcars upon the roadway,” the Ohio law states. Later in section 4511.46 it emphasizes: “No pedestrian shall suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle, trackless trolley, or streetcar which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.”

While the College is actively working with the City and state to review and potentially reconfigure crosswalks along West Lorain Street, Campus Safety urges students to be mindful of crossings.

“I think the signs are a very reasonable response by the [College],” College second-year Josh Dawson said. “But I don’t think it’s going to do anything, to be honest.”

The Oberlin City Council has attempted to make part of Lorain Street a school zone, which would allow the implementation of new crosswalks, but this attempt was unsuccessful. The City of Oberlin does not have jurisdiction over West Lorain Street; instead, the street is within the purview of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

“Lorain St. is a State Route (SR511), the rules fall under [the] Ohio Department of Transportation,” Grounds Services Manager Becky Bode wrote in an email to the Review. “ODOT has the say in where crosswalks are placed. The signs are up for students’

In past years, students have received jaywalking tickets from the Oberlin Police Department. Before the signs, Oberlin College placed barricades in front of the path and gave out tickets to students who did not walk down to the registered crosswalk before
crossing the street. Facilities Operations advises students to legally cross the street to avoid any ticketing from law enforcement.