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North Carolina town announces plans to improve pedestrian safety

Besides large cities, another type of place that can have problems with pedestrian-car accidents are towns with large seasonal populations. These towns’ streets may not have built to accommodate as much walking traffic as larger urban areas. As a result, serious pedestrian accidents can occur.

A recent incident in which a couple walking on or near a state highway in a small town were killed in an accident has shown what can happen. It also demonstrates the reason why another town nearby has begun improving its pedestrian safety.

The town of Duck has only about 500 permanent residents, but in the summer the number of people can explode to 25,000. The main commercial drag may have nearly 30,000 vehicles drive on it per day, as well as perhaps 1,000 bicycles and pedestrians.

As a result, pedestrian and bicycle accidents have become a major problem. In a 46-month period ending in October 2009, there were 22 accidents between bikes or walkers and motor vehicles in Duck.

To combat the problem, Duck obtained a $24,800 grant from the state. Combined with $6,200 in local funds, town officials and the North Carolina Department of Transportation are trying to make it safer for pedestrians and bikers to visit and shop there. Working with a planning firm, Duck hopes to improve traffic safety, perhaps by improving signage or by adding separate paths for non-motorized traffic.

Interested members of the public are also included in the planning stage. The town is soliciting ideas on its website and will discuss it at its public meetings.

Hopefully, adapting the roads will reduce the risk of pedestrian accidents in the future.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, “N.C. town focuses on safety after pedestrians’ deaths,” Jeff Hampton, Aug. 5, 2013

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