New brickwork and barrier chains have been installed outside of Friley Hall and Union Drive Community Center (UDCC) on the Iowa State University campus. The new brick replaces large dead, dirt spots where years of heavy pedestrian traffic has done its toll. I am always happy to see new brickwork on campus instead of all concrete sidewalks. It gives the already beautiful campus added character and visual interest.
However I can’t say the same for the new metal chains. These pedestrian barriers are found all over campus restricting pedestrians to sidewalks as to prevent creating “cow paths” in the grass. A debate has sparked on campus after a Facebook group was created arguing over-use of these chains that many deem uglier than a few cow paths. I agree that some chains are necessary around campus but it now seems they are going up just anywhere and everywhere. These new chains between Friley and the UDCC look haphazardly placed amid a few small shrubs and a tree at either end. Mulch has been worn away around shrubs as thousands of students cut through daily going between Friley and the UDCC where a dining center is located.
In such a high traffic area the landscaping strip at UDCC would be more suitable as a small strip of brickwork, like what was just installed nearby. The two trees could easily be preserved and maybe even a third one added, with space in between finished in brick. This would allow pedestrians passage, require little maintenance, and enhance the entrance into the Union Drive residential community. Instead of restricting pedestrians from cutting through by erecting unsightly metal chains, the Department of Facilities Planning and Management should work to identify and respond appropriately to pedestrian movement around campus.