Drivers and pedestrians alike received a surprise when Stony Brook University announced a recent change to a 45 mph speed limit from 55 mph on Nicolls Road between South Entrance and Route 25A.
The new speed limit along Nicolls Road was prompted by a history of pedestrian and vehicle accidents that involved Stony Brook students.
“As a result of previous incidents along the Nicolls Road corridor, the university began engaging in conversations with local officials to implement these changes,” Chief of Police and Assistant Vice President of Campus Safety Robert J. Lenahan said.
The previous incidents mentioned by Lenahan include a 2011 hit-and-run that killed student Seong Hoon Baek and a 2010 pedestrian accident that killed student Shubo Lin.
The change was due to the efforts of Stony Brook administration officials, who were assisted by the University Police Department and Suffolk County officials, according to Lenahan.
The hope is that the change will bring about a safer area for drivers and for pedestrians to cross.
“We believe the reduced speed limit will ultimately make it safer for those who chose to walk across Nicolls Road,” Lenahan said. “Studies have shown that reduced speeds will limit the amount and severity of injuries suffered by occupants in vehicle on vehicle crashes.”
The new change follows several other changes made by Suffolk County that are aimed at increasing safety, including adding curbs, sidewalks and guardrails during the fall semester.
Despite these changes, Lenahan said he would still advise pedestrians use other means of crossing Nicolls Road, such as the underpass near the Life Sciences building.
“We still encourage students and employees who wish to travel between east and west campus to utilize our Transportation Services, or to walk through the tunnel adjacent to Life Sciences,” he said.
Commuter Student Association President Joy Pawirosetiko called the change “a step in the right direction” but added that more could be done to increase safety.
“Nicolls Road is a very poorly lit; it becomes extremely dangerous at night, especially when it’s raining…I still think that the commute isn’t as safe as it could be,” Pawirosetiko said.
Pawirosetiko said she has heard of many complaints regarding Nicolls Road with most of the criticism focused on visibility at night.
“The one complaint I’ve heard would be how dark it is at night and how dangerous it can be to drive on Nicolls Road when it’s raining,” Pawirosetiko said.
According to Lenahan, Stony Brook is continuing to discuss future improvements on Nicolls Road to improve safety.
“University officials will continue to explore opportunities to make Nicolls Road safer, and are committed to work with local officials in that endeavor,” he said.
Pawirosetiko added that when pedestrians feel they are in danger, safety improvements need to be added.
“If pedestrians don’t feel safe when crossing the street, something clearly needs to be done,” she said.