Route 1 fatality demands response
We’ve said it before, but it appears we need to keep saying it.
Route 1 is not safe for pedestrians. As yet another weekend accident shows, Route 1 is deadly.
The latest death involved a man walking his dogs who apparently stepped into the path of an oncoming Jeep.
Route 1 is by nature a dangerous roadway. Through traffic is always in a rush to get through the lights in the commercial areas; joining them are thousands of people ready to shop or eat, changing lanes or turning suddenly to get to their destinations.
Adding bicycles and pedestrians to this volatile mix is especially deadly, as the growing list of fatal accidents shows – and the 2013 season has not yet even seen Fourth of July traffic volume.
Delaware Department of Transportation officials say most of the accidents occur at night, frequently when people try to cross Route 1 mid-block. DelDOT has promised improvements: a $10.3 million pedestrian safety project will complete sidewalks along Route 1 and increase the number of crosswalks from two to 12 in the congested area. But these changes will take time; DelDOT is still purchasing rights of way.
In the meantime, DelDOT should move quickly on urgent temporary measures. Lighting is critical, especially in dark areas near Route 24 and from Bay Vista Road to Dewey Beach, a stretch where two serious accidents occurred in the past two weeks.
Traffic signage from Five Points to Dewey Beach should warn drivers to be alert for pedestrians and cyclists. Speed limits must be enforced.
Where a bicycle lane exists, a physical barrier is needed to better protect cyclists.
While such improvements will help, nothing will change the fact that driving on Route 1 is dangerous; as summer visitors arrive, the hazards increase. Safety is everyone’s responsibility.
Reducing Route 1 fatalities will take not only critically needed DelDOT improvements, but also increased vigilance – by drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike.