SC police working to reduce high pedestrian, cyclist deaths
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Police and other South Carolina officials are working to bring down a high number of road wrecks that killed hundreds of pedestrians and bicyclists in recent years.
More than 900 pedestrians and cyclists have died on South Carolina roads and highways in the past six years, The Post and Courier reported Monday. A recent report by the nonprofit Governors Highway Safety Association ranked South Carolina sixth among U.S. states for pedestrian fatalities per 100,000 people.
Such deaths are typically preventable, said Capt. David Singletary of the North Charleston Police Department.
“What if they’d have taken the extra five minutes and walked 100 feet down the road and crossed at this well-lit crosswalk,” Singletary said. “This person would still be alive today. They’d still be with their family.”
He said the department’s traffic unit plans a public education campaign this summer in which officers will stop and speak to anyone they see improperly crossing a roadway. Jaywalkers and others will be spared a ticket, Singletary said, but will hopefully learn to be more mindful of their own safety.
Other groups are pushing for pedestrian bridges and other infrastructure upgrades.
The nonprofit Charleston Moves is working with police and state lawmakers to identify infrastructure improvements, such as pedestrian bridges, that will make biking and walking safer. The group has been collecting and sharing with police information about close calls between drivers and pedestrians or bicyclists.
“For us, this is all about infrastructure and the fact that we just don’t have safe and connected designs for people that aren’t in motor vehicles,” said Katie Zimmerman, executive director of Charleston Moves. “We’re just really lacking in safe and connected infrastructure.”
Charleston attorney Michael Molony, who also serves as a municipal judge, was nearly killed while biking on Sullivan’s Island. He was riding when a car pulled alongside him last July. Molony said he can’t recall if the car struck him or if he glanced the vehicle with his bike. But he “came to literally smelling the underside of his car.”
The driver left the scene and hasn’t been caught. Molony wasn’t wearing a helmet, and his left collarbone and shoulder blade were broken. He spent several days in a medically induced coma because of a brain injury. For a time he lost vision in his left eye, but has since regained it.
“In a bike accident, you’re just completely defenseless,” Molony said. “I don’t think you should share the road. Bikes should have their own lane.”
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com