‘Love Your Crosswalk campaign’ teaches Pitt history, pedestrian safety


John Blair | Senior Staff Photographer

A “Love Your Crosswalk” sign at a crosswalk on Forbes and Oakland Avenues.

By James Paul, Staff Writer

At various intersections on Forbes and Fifth Avenues, pedestrians will find 28 flashy QR codes, each linked to separate multiple-choice quizzes that explain safety tips and Pitt history. 

For example, questions like “On roads without sidewalks, is it safer to walk with the flow of traffic or facing traffic?” or “Before the 2016 rivalry game, how many years had passed since Pitt football played Penn State?” will appear.

The “Love Your Crosswalk campaign” is a Student Affairs initiative designed to improve pedestrian safety on campus, something Student Affairs Spokesperson Janine Fisher said is a “long-standing concern.” In 2020, a Port Authority bus fatally struck Barbara Como, a senior anthropology student. Como’s family received a $500,000 settlement from Port Authority, and the driver, Shavonne James, pled guilty to involuntary manslaughter and recklessly endangering another person.  

“Oakland has a lot of visitors that are unfamiliar with the changing traffic patterns, many of our new students are not from an urban area, construction frequently changes pedestrian and traffic patterns — there are a lot of factors to why this continued awareness is important,” Fisher said.

Fisher added that the campaign was inspired by a February 2020 brainstorming session, but was delayed due to the pandemic. She’s “thrilled to see it implemented” now, though. As of Friday, Fisher said the QR codes have been scanned 470 times.  

Dejene Haileselassie, a senior anthropology major who was hit by a bulldozer while biking, pointed out the dangerous nature of Oakland traffic. 

“Pittsburgh drivers are very crazy,” Haileselassie said. “I mean, even biking is really dangerous. I’ve been hit before. There was construction on the road and I was behind a mini bulldozer. The [driver] was turning left and I was turning right to get around him and he just swerved and hit me. Busted my bike. I didn’t get hurt, somehow.” 

Haileselassie said the “Love Your Crosswalk campaign” is an effective tool to clue students into the nature of living on an urban campus. 

“There are tons of students walking around on campus and there’s tons of cars and buses,” he said. “That may not be safe. So yeah, I definitely do think it’s important.”

Other students said the initiative is a useful tool to combat the dangerous relationship between reckless drivers and hurried students. Athena Swiader, a senior developmental psychology and gender, sexuality, and women’s studies double major, mentioned the many close calls she’s had with Oakland drivers over the past four years. Swiader added that the QR codes would have been useful in making past decisions to cross the street. 

“Once when I was able to cross, [a driver was turning] on Fifth Avenue because they wanted to make the light and then they almost hit me,” Swiader said, “It was very fun.”

The “Love Your Crosswalk campaign” is part of a series of ongoing and upcoming campaigns targeting safety concerns, including “Celebrate Responsibly,” “Be a Good Neighbor” block parties and more.

“So far our feedback received has been positive…any increase in awareness helps,” Fisher said. “The safety of our community is our main goal.”