Saturday, March 27, 2010

4-Ride and Student Safety

There has been a lot of talk here on GWBlogspot recently about crime happening near and on-campus. Most of the discussion surrounds the endless infomails we get about crime and whether they accurately portray how often crimes are actually perpetrated on-campus. Obviously, it would be na├»ve to say crime never happens here. After all, our campus is in the middle of a city, and crime is going to happen. The conversation shouldn’t be about whether our infomails are doing a good job of telling us about crime, but how we can go about keeping these crimes from happening in the first place.

While curbing crime in an urban area is no easy task, I propose that one thing we can do that will alleviate the problem is expand 4-Ride services. 4-Ride was, after all, designed with student safety in mind:

The George Washington University Escort Service -- a fleet of escort vans -- is designed to enhance safety and peace of mind for members of the GW community when they must walk alone after dark and are not near a Colonial Express shuttle bus stop.
But 4-Ride, as it exists right now, is inefficient and ineffective: I have heard (and experienced) horror stories involving waiting half an hour or more on a Saturday night for an escort car to arrive, and then not having enough seats for everyone in your group. 4-Ride needs to be more efficient so that students remain safe while travelling around campus and the surrounding area. If students are not confident that a 4-Ride car will show up in good time, they won’t use this preventative measure; ergo, 4-Ride needs to be improved in order to improve student safety.

My proposal is twofold:

First, the GW administration should add more cars to the fleet in order to cut down on wait time. Simply put, more cars can service more students.

Second, the area of service should be expanded. Right now, the furthest from campus 4-Ride will take you is around 21st and M, which puts you approximately nowhere near anything interesting. 4-Ride’s current area of service is so restrictive that people going off-campus are not at all inclined to use the service, especially if their wait time is longer than the time it would take to walk there themselves, thus putting themselves in danger (most people, psychologists tell us, will put convenience over safety). I’m not saying they should be taking us up to U Street or anything – that would be such a huge area of service so as to stretch the fleet too thin, eliminating the positive effects of adding cars to the fleet – but the area of service needs to increase by some amount in order to make the service more convenient for students.

It is a matter of both student convenience and, more importantly, student safety that we expand 4-Ride services. Please join this Facebook group and sign the petition urging the GW administration to tackle this issue.

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