Pedestrians, cyclists should stop at crosswalk

info@islandpacket.comSeptember 3, 2013 

I recently pulled into Palmetto Dunes, making a right turn off U.S. 278. I made sure there was no traffic entering from the left and proceeded with my turn.

As I did, a bicyclist entered the crosswalk despite the fact that she had a stop sign. I paused, but then continued my turn. I was greeted with shrieks from the bicyclist who informed me: "There is a crosswalk here. I'm gonna call the cops on you."

Hilton Head Island residents know what the police would have said to her: Cars have the right-of-way in that situation. Unfortunately, that is not what most people are taught elsewhere. New drivers are taught that pedestrians have the right of way, and it is up to drivers to be cautious around crosswalks.

My fear is that someone is going to end up dead. Residents and many return visitors know that when they drive, they are to continue through crosswalks; stopping at crosswalks lulls those traveling on foot or bike into a false sense of security. But many visitors see a crosswalk as a safe crossing zone. I have even seen cyclists begin to cross at a crosswalk on U.S. 278 and watched as cars screeched to a stop to avoid hitting them. Why not have a small sign underneath each pathway stop sign that states cars have the right of way? Clearer signs would make the island safer for pedestrians and bicyclists and allow drivers to make it home without hurting someone.

Jamie Berndt

Hilton Head Island

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