photo courtesy The Florida Independent Alligator

by Shyam Allard

The street closure officials placed on W. University Avenue on Gator football game days have yielded mostly positive results.

In an effort to increase the safety of pedestrians during home games, Public Safety Officials, the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida started closing vehicular traffic between 17th Street and 22nd Street, according to the Gainesville Police Department. This is the first year the closure has been implemented.

Ben Tobias, spokesperson for the department, said that officials wanted to expand safety after noticing recent crashes of vehicles into pedestrians both in this country and internationally.

“On University Avenue on game day, there are thousands of pedestrians on the sidewalk,” Tobias said. “When you have pedestrians and vehicles that close to one another something inevitably is going to happen, so we wanted to take these safety measures to prevent that.”

The closure so far has been successful by not only elevating safety, but by also creating favorable conditions for businesses just outside of the closed off areas.

Netta Kaiden, owner of Fork and Pasta located on 1802 W. University Ave, said that the closure has been great for business.

“There are more people who can walk freely here, so for us it’s really good,” Kaiden said. “Because of the blockade, we’re selling more beer.”

Luke Lang, manager at the Italian Gator located on 1728 W. University Ave, said that the establishment’s owner is also happy about the blockade because of the increased foot traffic in the area.

Not everyone, however, has experienced benefits from the blockade.

Uber driver Edgar Caicedo said that he has had his fair share of problems picking people up for rides on game day.

“It’s difficult to get around because the traffic is so bad,” Caicedo said. “ It takes much longer, it’s much more difficult.”

But the beneficial effects of the blockade seem to outweigh the negative, according to Tobias. He said he’s been pleasantly surprised at the results he’s seen so far.

“The effect has been very positive,” Tobias said. “We’re pleasantly surprised that we’ve had very, very few complaints.”

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