Speed limit near campus a little risky
For some reason, I thought a trip up to the Maharishi University of Management campus to take a picture Wednesday morning would be a difficult assignment.
Ledger reporter Lacey Jacobs was writing a story about the Iowa Department of Transportation proposing a 5 miles per hour increase in the speed limit on Highway 1 North near the campus. The Fairfield City Council passed the first reading of the ordinance setting the new speed limits Monday night.
All I wanted for a Ledger picture was some pedestrians crossing the highway with cars going by. That’s not a difficult picture, but I wasn’t comfortable asking people their names for identification when they had no clue what I was doing. It wasn’t easy to explain my purpose with a few, quick words.
I came back to the office with my picture and felt a little embarrassed about my pre-conceived thinking. It wasn’t a difficult assignment at all.
The students were friendly and cooperative. They quickly picked up on what I was doing. A few were upset that traffic would be moving even faster.
“Who’s idea was that?” asked a young guy who was ready to take up a cause.
The pedestrians with foreign-sounding names patiently spelled out their names when I knew they were in a hurry to get to class. Smiles and cooperation were the order of the day. I was flat-out guilty of a local misconception that M.U.M. students were unapproachable.
We ended up using a picture of a faculty-looking type of guy who was carrying a bouquet of flowers. He was one of the few people I didn’t get a name to go with the picture. It was drizzling and people were moving fast.
I might be over-estimating the pedestrian traffic, but in just about 10 or 15 minutes there were about 50 people crossing Highway 1 near the main entrance to the university. Ever since I guess-timated seating for 100 people in the Fairfield City Council chambers (it’s really closer to 60), our newsroom staffers have questioned my estimating skills.
Many cars came to complete stops on the highway to let the pedestrians cross. We disagreed in the Ledger newsroom about stopping for pedestrians up there. I still am not sure what cars are supposed to do when people are waiting at a marked crosswalk near campus. The students signaled their appreciation when cars stopped and waited when they didn’t.
I think I might be agreeing with City Councilmen John Revolinski and Ray Mottet on this one. Crossing a highway when there’s a 45 miles per hour speed limit is a little risky. And that’s assuming people are going the speed limit.
I get a little nervous about crossing Pleasant Plain Road and Glasgow Road on my bicycle when I’m on the Jefferson County loop trail. I probably should just get off and walk.
Once upon a time, I tried to make more opportunities to get up to the M.U.M. campus. That included volunteering in the early 1990s for Panchakarma hot oil treatment in the name of medical research. They were looking for bald guys who could easily have electrodes stuck to their heads to measure brain activity. They poured hot oil on my forehead and I almost fell asleep.
M.U.M. public affairs staffers Ken Chawkin and Jim Karpen have been great to work with over the years. I probably should shorten the time between our visits.
Jeff Wilson is publisher of The Fairfield Ledger.