There’s an old expression about the road to hell being paved with good intentions. Now we have a situation in the Bethany area where the road to the emergency room may have been paved with good intentions.
I refer to the numerous pedestrian crosswalks installed at almost every intersection on Route 1. Helping pedestrians — particularly seasonal visitors who are unfamiliar with local driving habits — is a good idea. But not if done in a way that creates an accident waiting to happen.
All too often, pedestrians blithely walk out into the crosswalk without bothering to look to see if a car is nearby and approaching at speed. Not even the best of drivers can literally stop on a dime. Also, pedestrians may pause for a car they see driving in the adjacent lane but are not able to see a car approaching in the lane one notch over because their view is blocked by the vehicle in the nearer lane. If they can’t see the car driving in the lane once removed, then the driver of that car can’t see them either, and won’t have reason stop... until it’s too late.
I have personally witnessed a couple of near-misses, with an accident avoided only because a car came to a brake-screeching halt. The pedestrians failed to follow the advice we all give our kids: “Don’t cross the street between parked cars.” Pedestrians must take some responsibility for their own safety; crosswalks don’t mean “no need to look.”
There’s bound to be an accident before the summer is over; given our litigious culture, the injured pedestrian will sue not only the car driver/owner, but also DelDOT, and the County, and the city, and any other entity involved in the design and placement of the crosswalks. And he will have a good case.
I should add that the crosswalks with blinkers are less problematic, but they are not installed everywhere, and in any event, they do not totally solve all the problems described above. These problems, incidentally, are magnified at night, especially if the pedestrians are wearing dark clothing.