Pedestrian problems on Summit and Cretin crosswalks

Some St. Thomas students compete against oncoming traffic when navigating from North to South campus.

Sophomore Jackson Penning said that crossing the Cretin and Summit intersection is dangerous.

“(Students are) either texting or talking,” Penning said. “They’re really not paying attention. Students will blindly walk across the street and have no countdown to know when to walk.”

St. Thomas Crime Prevention Sergeant Wells Farnham said that student awareness is only one of several factors that fuel the hazardous conditions of these crosswalks.

“Cars are moving at a high rate of speed; anywhere from 30 to 50 miles per hour,” Farnham said. “And on top of that, your campus arteries are on either side where you’ve got hundreds of students going through that intersection at any given time.”

Penning said he’s concerned about what it will take for students to become aware of the dangers.

“Unfortunately, it’s going to be a wake-up call of some kind for a student,” Penning said. “It isn’t going to be for every student. It’s just going to be for one or two.”

Last week, a person was struck by a car and injured. Director of Irish Studies and regular crosswalk user Jim Rogers said he has had a few close calls.

“I can’t count the number of times that people almost ran me over to the point that I was literally able to slap the car as it hit me,” Rogers said.

According to Farnham, in the last two years there have been only two incidents at the Cretin and Summit crossings, an improvement compared to years past.

Farnham said that to keep these crosswalks safe, students and the drivers need to do their part.

“Obey the lights and posted signs,” Farnham said. “Cross at the posted crosswalks… If you’re in traffic, don’t rush to beat the lights. If you’re in a vehicle, take your time.”

Katherine Curtis can be reached at

4 Replies to “Pedestrian problems on Summit and Cretin crosswalks”

  1. Interesting article and report!  One thing I think deserves more of a mention is the fact that you can’t always go by the safe-to-cross indicators because of the way people drive through that intersection.  The South stoplight always turns yellow a second or two before the North one does, and I think this really gets people thinking they can beat the light.  I personally have had a few experiences where I started crossing when the light was telling me it was safe, and people running the red light (traveling Northbound on Cretin) just keep on blazing through the intersection like it’s your responsibility to watch out for them.  This is why you always have to be on your toes when crossing that intersection, or you can easily get hit. I think they should really try to do something with the timing of the lights to discourage the people from trying to beat the light all the time.  Just my 2 cents

  2. I was looking down at my phone when I started crossing Cretin one day.. The  “walk” light was lit, but I didn’t see a car running a red light and I was probably a foot away from the car as it drove right in front of me. Absolutely terrifying, and after that experience I learned to look both ways no matter what. And look up once in a while, that text on your phone can wait.

  3. Ever since they redid this intersection over the summer, it has become way more dangerous.  There are a couple major problems:

    1. There is a bug in the programming.  On the weekends, pressing the button will not cause the light to change, but rather an infinite loop of “wait, wait, wait, wait, wait” until a car finally pulls over the sensor, the light will not change, and the pedestrians will NEVER get a walk sign.  The light will look like it’s going to cycle, turning yellow and then red, but then it instantly goes green (causing major confusion for pedestrians who anticipate the walk sign coming on!).  I’ve emailed the city of Saint Paul about this bug, but they don’t seem to care.

    2. The new way the intersection is configured actually makes it harder for drivers to make a right turn from Summit avenue to Cretin.  The problem is that the walk sign is always on for one of the directions, so during busy times, cars never get a chance to make a right turn.  This leads to cars honking, pedestrians yelling, and many, many close calls.

    Sometimes public safety officers stand around the intersection, but they usually just stand on their cell phones and send text messages all day.

  4. I was sitting at a red light a few weeks ago at the intersection of Grand and Cretin, and a student started crossing the street when he had the right of way. He was so connected to his phone and iPod that he could neither see nor hear what was going on around him, and he actually walked into my car, a good two feet out of the crosswalk. Of course, he started YELLING at me for “hitting” him, though he will never figure out that it was he who walked right into my car. Pay attention when crossing the street!

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