Every day during his commute to work, Tim Tryjankowski would notice a “steady stream” of pedestrian and vehicular traffic at the roundabout in front of Greiner Hall, making some drivers “aggravated.”
“I was concerned about that because I was worried someone was going to get hurt there,” Tryjankowski, a director in the UB Honors College, said. “There just was not enough of an opening and people were trying to gun their vehicle through.”
Tryjankowski decided to do something about it. In 2016, he wrote an email to then-Director of Campus Living Andrea Costantino and then-Dean of Students Barbara Ricotta, suggesting that UB post a crossing guard at the roundabout during times with heavy traffic.
“I don’t want a tragic accident or a nasty letter to the editor from someone stuck in traffic and late to work somewhere in Amherst to be the reason we react,” Tryjankowski wrote in the email. “Was hoping UB could be proactive on this.”
This semester, almost exactly six years later, a UB Stampede bus struck a UB employee in that very roundabout.
The employee was transported by ambulance to Erie County Medical Center, according to a University Police report obtained by The Spectrum. Police determined that the employee was within the crosswalk when the bus struck them after reviewing the bus’ dashcam footage. The driver, who had worked as a bus driver for at least 14 years and had a clean record, was suspended without pay and cited with “failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.”
The Spectrum was unable to reach out to the victim, as they have not been publicly identified. Police redacted their name in the accident report.
UB’s traffic safety committee is considering several ways to make high-volume intersections “even safer for pedestrians and drivers,” including flashing signs that pedestrians can activate with a button before crossing, reducing some speed limits on campus roads and increasing “speed limit awareness equipment,” the university said in an email statement to The Spectrum. A crossing guard, which Tryjankowski had originally suggested, was not on the list.
Button-activated flashing signs will be piloted at the intersection of Flint Road and Service Center Road. The university didn’t specify a timeline on that pilot project.
“While roadway design and safety measures will not eliminate all human error that can play a factor in accidents like the one that occurred on Sept. 14, the university is committed to taking proactive and layered measures to reduce that risk and keep our community safe,” the university said.
There had been no reports of a vehicle striking a pedestrian “in or near the roundabout” until the Sept. 14 accident, and the roundabout was “not prone to vehicle-vehicle accidents,” according to the university. The roundabout was built in 2010, replacing the stoplight that was previously at the intersection of Lee Road and Audubon Parkway.
“Since its installation, the roundabout has served as an effective traffic-calming measure by significantly slowing vehicular traffic ahead of and within the intersection,” the university said. “Students traveling between Ellicott and the spine no longer must cross four lanes of the parkway — approximately 150 feet wide — to reach their destinations.”
The university did not respond to The Spectrum’s questions about whether the university took any action in response to Tryjankowski’s 2016 email. Tryjankowski doesn’t remember if Ricotta or Constantino ever responded to his concerns, but couldn’t find a response from them in his email inbox.
Ricotta retired from her role as dean of students at the end of the spring 2022 semester. Constantino pleaded guilty to stealing more than $14,000 from the university. She was sentenced to a three-year conditional probation and 250 hours of community service in 2017.
Grant Ashley is the managing editor and can be reached at email@example.com
Grant Ashley is the managing editor at The Spectrum. He is a political science and (mediocre) Spanish double major. He enjoys taking long bike rides, baking with his parents’ ingredients and recreating Bob Ross paintings in crayon. He can be found on Twitter @Grantrashley.