Editorial: Pedestrian Crosswalk Signs and NCDOT in Carolina Beach

By / Editorials / Wednesday, 22 October 2014 04:00

By WILLARD KILLOUGH III
Managing Editor

The Carolina Beach Town Council recently approved lowering the speed limit on Lake Park Blvd from Sumter Avenue south of the Carolina Beach Lake, north to Saint Joseph Street. Much of that area is already 25mph until you reach the area around the Carolina Beach Lake where it's 35mph. It's a good move because motorists headed north on Lake Park Blvd travel through a curve in the road and coming out of that curve they encounter a crosswalk at Atlanta Avenue and Lake Park Blvd. A lower speed limit should in theory give driver's more time to process the situation and stop for people crossing in the crosswalk. It's the law. Vehicles must yield - or stop - for people crossing in a marked crosswalk.
The perplexing issue involves signs. Police Chief Ken Hinkle told the Council at their October 14th, meeting that due to an enormous rulebook the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) uses, it's a frustrating process to get signs approved for placement on Lake Park Blvd.
Other ideas have been proposed such as installing a pedestrian island in the center of the road for the crosswalk as well as lighted signs. Mayor Dan Wilcox suggested the Town put up a sign near the bridge alerting drivers to stop at crosswalks. Town Manager Michael Cramer said it's an issue of getting NCDOT approval.
Council member Leann Pierce said she was almost run off the road by a vehicle a couple of weeks ago and said addressing tourists is one issue, but local citizens would pay attention if the Town sent out notices on crosswalk safety and laws.
Chief Hinkle said the department is working on distributing literature to hotels, motels and vacation rental companies to educate tourists. The issue is with alerting motorists with something other than white lines. Actually painting the words "Slow" and "Crosswalk Ahead" on the road surface will trigger most drivers to slow down and watch to yield for pedestrians.
NCDOT officials should lighten up on the rules governing signs and let the Town implement reasonable signs on the road in advance of crosswalk areas. A little common sense on the part of the NCDOT would help the situation.
Ironically, a number of years ago I wrote a report about NCDOT sandblasting crosswalk lines at intersections on Lake Park Blvd because they were a liability. Thankfully they have since changed their mind on that one.

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