‘Abbey Road’ at Yale: Promoting pedestrian safety

Yale leaders recreated the iconic "Abbey Road" cover as part of a campaign to encourage pedestrians to use crosswalks.

Yale’s Office of Environmental Heath & Safety (EHS) wants you to follow the lead of the Beatles when you cross the streets around campus. The Fab Four were photographed in a crosswalk on Abbey Road in London 45 years ago, and the iconic picture graced the cover of their 1969 “Abbey Road” album, the last record the group recorded together.

Artist Jason Shelowitz suggested using the famous album cover for Yale’s safety campaign. “The Traffic Safety Committee loved Jason’s idea — to raise awareness of the need for pedestrians to use crosswalks,” said EHS director Peter Reinhardt. “Even better, why not recreate the photo here at Yale?”

Reinhardt and his colleagues solicited the assistance of Yale leaders to reenact the Beatles’ crossing. President Peter Salovey, Provost Benjamin Polak, Chief of Police Ronnell Higgins, and Associate Professor Kirsten Bechtel, who chairs the Traffic Safety Committee, agreed enthusiastically to be Beatles for a day to help the important cause.

The Yale “Abbey Road” photo was taken at the intersection of Wall and College streets. Yale Police stopped traffic for a few minutes, and university photographer Michael Marsland, standing on a stepladder in the middle of the street just as the photographer of the Beatles’ photo had, took the picture.

In the photo, Polak, as did John Lennon, leads the way through the crosswalk in a white suit and with hands in pockets. Bechtel, the only participant with hair as long as the Beatles, follows as Ringo Starr in a dark suit with flared pant cuffs. Salovey, who shed his shoes and socks for the photo, mimics Paul McCartney, except for the cigarette Sir Paul was holding. Salovey points a finger downward in lieu of the cigarette. Higgins, as the casually dressed George Harrison, donned denim for the occasion.

The Yale photo underscores the need for students, faculty, and staff to raise their safety awareness and use crosswalks as when navigating the streets on foot. EHS notes that pedestrian fatalities account for 12% of motor vehicle fatalities per year. Nationally, on average, one pedestrian is injured every eight minutes, and one is killed approximately every two hours. In 2006 in Connecticut, 44% of the accidents involving pedestrians were due to “unsafe use of the highway by the pedestrian,” meaning the pedestrian was at fault in nearly half of all these accidents.

You can find pedestrian safety tips on the EHS website, including these:

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks.
  • Stop and look for traffic in all directions before crossing the street.
  • Pay attention to the “Walk” signals — never cross on a solid or flashing “Don’t Walk.”
  • Walk facing traffic when there are no sidewalks.
  • If walking or jogging at night, dress to be seen. Use a flashlight and wear reflective clothing.
  • Familiarize yourself with and use the walking escort program. Dial “2 WALK” (2-9255) from any campus phone. Or use the night shuttle service.

For more information, see: http://ehs.yale.edu/Safety-Bulletin-September-2014.

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