Shoppers demonstrate need for safer Route 1
Nationally, concern over the nation’s finances threatens to put the brakes on this year’s holiday shopping. But those who spent Thanksgiving in the Cape Region were hard pressed to find any sign consumers are worried.
With warm holiday weather and an expected increase in travel, lots of visitors found their ways to the beach resorts. Many Thanksgiving dishes were still on the table when tourists and locals began to arrive at the Tanger Outlets on Route 1.
Even before dark on Thanksgiving Day, outlet parking was at a premium. By the time Black Friday sales began, parking lots were crammed to capacity; at some stores, shoppers waited in long, sidewalk lines for a chance to discover the night’s bargains.
Adding to congestion, new restaurants have opened in the past year, attracting diners and football fans to Route 1, and in some cases taking up space once used by outlet shoppers.
In any case, by 10 p.m., traffic began looping Route 1 from Midway to the entrance to Rehoboth Beach.
Before long, visions of July Fourth gridlock were dancing in the heads of anyone stuck in a car.
As the past year’s four fatalities show, even without holiday traffic, Route 1 is dangerous for cyclists and pedestrians. Even so, with parking lots full, many shoppers left their cars at one lot and ventured on foot – even crossing Route 1 – to continue their quests for the perfect gifts.
No accidents were reported, but two days of congestion demonstrate Route 1 is at capacity during holidays; this occasional gridlock clearly shows the daily gridlock that awaits as the region’s population grows.
Traffic control officers at every major outlet are an obvious first step for high-volume shopping days, and they should be in place this year for after-Christmas sales.
Beyond that, new solutions must be found now to address the growing dangers on Route 1. Safer cyclist and pedestrian connections from one shopping area to another must be a top priority. Improved crosswalks, better lighting and more efficient shuttle services are already overdue.