Safety rules for pedestrians

As a longtime resident of downtown Charleston, I must respectfully chime in with regard to pedestrian safety and alternative transportation on the peninsula.

The city of Charleston is considering a ban on skateboards due to safety concerns. After a rather successful autumn of ticketing rogue bicyclists near the College of Charleston and getting them to pay up, we apparently have a new ax to grind.

For a minute, forget about the lack of enforcement of bike rules elsewhere on the peninsula, when you can’t simply drag offenders into court and make them pay.

I propose that the city start enforcing crosswalks and pedestrian areas throughout the city. Spend 10 minutes as I do every Saturday morning watching the crosswalk at Charlotte and Meeting streets. Watch cars routinely blow through the crosswalk as patrons of the Charleston Farmer’s Market wait for a respectful driver to stop.

Not only do motorists ignore the obvious posted yellow pedestrian signs, but often travel at a rate of speed well in excess of the posted 25 mph.

The same scenario plays out most mornings on Calhoun Street near the Medical University. Not one bit of traffic or crosswalk enforcement takes place aside from the motorcycle cops who sit there with radar.

Our hospitals have resorted to offering bright orange flags for those walking in crosswalks.

This is unacceptable. And for Charleston, a wonderfully hospitable city that welcomes millions of visitors per year, what kind of message does this send? That crosswalks only matter in the other 49 states?

Let’s note that the Folly Beach community — where Charleston goes to play — has addressed its crosswalk and pedestrian problem by installing rubber ballasts in the center of the crosswalks.

That slows cars down and alerts distracted drivers. It is a simple, safe, cost-effective solution that our city needs to consider.

Lastly, we need to encourage people to walk, ride a bike and consider alternatives to car travel. City Councilman Mike Seekings makes a valid point when he says the current situation is a “formula for disaster,” as speeders zip around streets and sidewalks filled with tourists, shoppers and older residents.

His viewpoint mirrors the arguments I am making here with one exception: Far more pedestrians are hurt in South Carolina by errant drivers than by reckless skateboarders.

I am encouraged to hear that our City Council will allow a public hearing prior to their “skateboard decision” at which I plan to be present to express my viewpoint on crosswalks. As a community, we can do better.

Jason M. Cronen Charlotte Street