In July of 2013, the Delaware House of Representatives passed a resolution to create the Route 1 Pedestrian Safety Task Force, with a charge to recommend options to improve pedestrian safety on Route 1 from the Nassau Bridge to the southern town limits of Dewey Beach.
“Since my time as a State Police Troop 7 commander, I have seen the steady increase of traffic along Route 1 and the increased danger that pedestrians and cyclists face every day trying to travel along the road,” said task force chairman and House Speaker Rep. Pete Schwartzkopf, whose Rehoboth Beach district includes much of the study area.
“The task force had to deal with the challenge of improving safety for pedestrians without causing huge traffic backups and working within the existing roadway. But we determined that there are several steps we can take to help people travel safely along Route 1 and cut down on the number of accidents.”
In August 2013, the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) unveiled a proposal for pedestrian safety improvements along Route 1, which was reviewed and used as a basis for the task force’s discussions.
“DelDOT’s improvement plans begin just north of the Five Points (U.S. 9) intersection and end at the Lewes- Rehoboth Canal Bridge,” according to the report.
In a summary of pedestrian accident history, Delaware State Police Troop 7 mapped the locations of pedestrian and bicycle crashes from 2011 to August 2013, which showed there were 14 injuries and five fatalities during that time on that section of the Route 1 corridor.
The report also stated that most of the accidents occurred from Thursday to Sunday, in the evening hours and early morning, during the summer months.
“Incidents along the Route 1 corridor show that most pedestrians are waiting to cross the roadway or are in the roadway,” stated the report. “Alcohol was involved in many of the cases. The state police established that a high percentage of pedestrians are at fault or partially at fault for the crash and cited one of the following: darting or dashing, being in the roadway improperly, [and] failing to yield right-of-way.”
The report also noted that the roadway has an average daily traffic of 60,000 vehicles, and a peak average daily traffic of 80,000 vehicles.
The task force, comprising14 members — including DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt and three members of the public — met four times. In its 27-page report, the task force listed several recommendations, including:
• Add more overhead lighting throughout the corridor;
• Add bicycle-friendly rumble strips between through lanes and right-hand turn lanes to denote where drivers should enter the turn lane;
• Update all of the road striping throughout corridor to improve visibility and clarity;
• Add a flashing caution pedestrian sign at the north end of the “Forgotten Mile.”
• Reduce access points to Route 1 by considering reconfigurations of current access points and not allowing the creation of new access points
• Support DelDOT plans to: add six new ADA-compliant crosswalks; add two pedestrian hybrid signals (HAWK beacons); add continuous sidewalks from just north of the Five Points (U.S. 9) intersection to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal Bridge; evaluate road signage along the corridor; and align bus stops with new crosswalks.
The task force also recommended more education of pedestrians and cyclists as to where they are permitted to walk and ride, as well as the rules of the road and potential hazards.
The report noted that further monitoring of traffic speed and discussion is “needed to consider reducing the speed limit along the Route 1 corridor. This will require a larger conversation with DelDOT and law enforcement to determine its viability.”
To view the entire report, visit http://legis.delaware.gov/LIS/TaskForces.nsf/, search for Pedestrian, follow the link to the task force’s page and, under Minutes, Reports & Information, select Route 1 Pedestrian Safety Task Force Report 2014.pdf, or visit http://goo.gl/aj0UpA.