Pedestrians on Route 1 not the only problem
The new signs along Route 1 urging pedestrians to “Walk smart” and especially one that reads “Ped laws enforced” have drawn attention this summer. Reinforcing the signs are giant postcards and door hangers mailed and distributed across the Cape Region warning people who are “Surfing Route 1” to use crosswalks.
In large red letters, the postcards warn: pedestrians who violate the law can be fined up to $75.
State officials plan to issue tickets and fine pedestrians $75 because they don’t walk four miles out of their way to find a crosswalk?
As many residents - and surely the Office of Highway Safety - know, there is no safe place to cross the highway from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge all the way north to the Tanger Outlets at Midway.
To be fair, saving lives on Route 1 will require educating pedestrians as well as the thousands of drivers on the road every day.
The postcards explain one in four traffic deaths statewide last year was a pedestrian death - many of them on Route 1.
Still, it’s not fair to blame pedestrians for crossing the street illegally when there is no legal place for people to cross.
Transportation officials say safety upgrades are on the way: Starting next month, work is set to begin on a $6.5 million plan to complete sidewalks along Route 1 from Five Points to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge. The plan calls for six new crosswalks, including a critical one at the entrance to Rehoboth Beach.
Unfortunately, the project is expected to take 572 days; even next summer, it still won’t be finished.
In the meantime, the Department of Transportation signs should address drivers as well as pedestrians. They could even remind cyclists of the little-publicized policy that cyclists are permitted to use sidewalks on Route 1.
Route 1 carries an inherently dangerous mix of through traffic, local traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. As all of this traffic increases, safety will only be achieved if drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike obey traffic laws and learn a little bit of patience.