Politics & Government

Noticed anything new in Hilton Head’s crosswalks? Leaders want to know what you think

Charli Bobinchuck’s dad proposes lighting solution for Hilton Head crosswalks

Bryan Bobinchuck - the father of 11-year-old Charli who was struck and killed on a Hilton Head crosswalk in June — spoke at a council meeting about a proposal he has for a new crosswalk lighting design. He says it's time they "do what's right."
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Bryan Bobinchuck - the father of 11-year-old Charli who was struck and killed on a Hilton Head crosswalk in June — spoke at a council meeting about a proposal he has for a new crosswalk lighting design. He says it's time they "do what's right."

If you’ve driven on Hilton Head Island, you’ve driven on U.S. 278.

And if you’ve driven on U.S. 278 recently, you’ve likely noticed a lot more letters on the pavement.

Town of Hilton Head Island engineers and staff have added safety measures to 11 crosswalks without signals along U.S. 278 in the form of “PED XING” markings on the road and bright yellow signs to alert drivers that people are crossing.

Now, town staff members are asking for your opinion on the crosswalk changes via an “open town hall” webpage available on the town’s website.

The submission form is available until May 13 and asks users questions about whether they’ve noticed the improvements to crosswalks, whether they think the changes are effective and how well they know applicable traffic laws.

“Town officials will consider input from this forum along with all other channels for participation,” according to the form.

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The approved plan for the Yacht Cove intersection, which was implemented at 11 crosswalks on U.S. 278 on Hilton Head. Town of Hilton Head Island

Early results

In the first day of submissions, 134 people filled out the survey.

As of 1:30 p.m., 85 percent of respondents said they had noticed the changes to the crosswalks and 50 percent said those changes are effective in increasing safety.

However, some — about 15 percent of respondents — said the crosswalk improvements were “overdone.”

“The only way to keep some folks safe would be to build a barrier that keeps them from crossing (U.S.) 278 until the traffic is clear, which is seldom,” one respondent wrote in the open comments section. “I find the street markings to be very unsightly and obnoxious. And signs won’t affect some folks.”

Others submitted recommendations for improving crosswalk safety.

“I’d like to see the crosswalks signs have flashing caution lights activated by a device which senses someone entering in the crosswalk,” one person wrote.

“We need to slow the traffic down on all our roads and educate both locals and tourists on who has right of ways,” another responded. “We seem so afraid to change the LMO to light up our streets, but yet doing nothing when business are installing bright lights in parking lots and signs.”

Hilton Head drivers may respond to the survey by May 13 at the open town hall webpage.

Katherine Kokal The Island Packet

Crosswalk safety on Hilton Head

The survey and new changes come amid high public interest and pressure to improve crosswalks on the island.

In 2018, there were two pedestrian deaths on U.S. 278 — 11-year-old Charli Bobinchuck in June and 84-year-old Ron Titus in December.

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This crosswalk on William Hilton Parkway at Yacht Cove is where 11-year-old Charli Bobinchuck was struck and killed in 2018. Jay Karr jkarr@islandpacket.com

Both incidents ignited conversation about how to appropriately bring dark parts of the island into the light.

Although town staff had garnered approval for the crosswalk improvements, some residents argue the focus should still be on lighting those intersections.

“One of our shortcomings is our crosswalks,” Charli’s father, Bryan Bobinchuck, said in October to Hilton Head Town Council members. “The simple fact that there is a town ordinance that disallows the lighting of crosswalks is outdated.”

In January, the town’s design review board made recommendations for how overhead lighting should look, The Island Packet has previously reported.

That style will be consistent with the brown overhead traffic mast arms throughout the island.

The issue of lighting, although separate from the crosswalk improvements at issue in the town hall forum, will next be heard by the intergovernmental and public safety committee.

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Katherine Kokal moved to South Carolina in 2018 after graduating from the University of Missouri and loves everything about the Lowcountry that isn’t a Palmetto Bug. She has won South Carolina Press Association awards for in-depth and government beat reporting. On the weekends, you can find Kati doing yoga and hiking Pinckney Island.