Letters to the Editor - June 13, 2019
Reader targets pedestrian and cyclist safety
I read with interest the recent story regarding the cyclist accident and pedestrian safety fears as well as the letter to the editor by Greg Turner on the “mystery” of who and why we are getting a traffic circle to replace traffic lights.
I have been a DI resident for over two years and since I am a frequent pedestrian in the downtown area, and my balcony overlooks the same area, I have high exposure to the ebb and flow and wanted to share some thoughts.
In reading the accident story, it states that the driver was turning right out of the Publix (parking lot) and the bicyclist was turning left from Seven Farms Drive. It further states that the police officers were unable to determine who might have been at fault. It seems that this accident would not have been possible if the bicyclist had been observing the rules of the road. Further, the article equates bicyclist with pedestrian, as if there are no additional rules of the road that a bicyclist must observe.
In the article, it quotes several who are quick to infer that downtown on-street parking is a factor. I do agree that eliminating a couple of on-street parking spaces in select locations could improve driver line of sight. No doubt about that. But the viability of some of the businesses that utilize these spaces may be at risk when you take away the ability of their customers to park in front of the business. Finally, if anyone assumes that taking away on-street parking will actually eliminate such parking, you are mistaken. Service trucks, vendors, and delivery trucks will still have to park there frequently, there is no way around that.
When I first came to DI, I assumed that the speeders and bad drivers downtown were perhaps daytime construction laborers or vendors; not residents. However, I now believe otherwise. On those occasions when I have almost been run over by someone blowing through a stop sign or ignoring the pedestrian crosswalk, it has been by someone who was heading in the direction of the neighborhoods, most likely someone heading home. And judging by the type (expensive) of vehicle, I suspect they were not apartment or condo dwellers. They drive as if they have a sense of privilege, as if stop signs and such are for the little people. It is bad behavior and most likely only remedied by some periodic strict enforcement of traffic regulations. I think DI downtown would be the perfect place for some periodic foot or bicycle police presence. I understand that police resources are limited, but I am suggesting this only on a periodic and random basis. It is a great opportunity to generate some additional revenue through traffic citations. Perhaps some DI residents would be willing to serve as reserve officers in the community in which they and their families live, if this is an available program of the police department.
I would also like to add that while most bicyclists are sensible and show respect for others, that is not universally true. In the downtown DI area, it is not uncommon for a crowd of young bicyclists to force pedestrians off the sidewalks in what seems to be a game of “chicken.” They often have a disregard for stop signs, speed bumps, and common sense in general. And of course, many do not wear helmets. It causes me to suspect that these are the children of the adult drivers mentioned above. I have no scientific evidence to support this, just behavioral observance.
In his letter to the editor two weeks ago, Greg Turner pointed out that, to the best of his recollection, the engineers at the May 7 DINA meeting stated that the $2.4 million roundabout might not make traffic flow any better during rush hour and could be worse. He also stated that it is hard to determine exactly who made the decision to create the roundabout, a decision that, in Greg’s opinion, is the least efficient option for the intersection. Greg is right-on in stating that police presence must be apparent when the new roundabout opens; those drivers who disregard the law and common-sense will only change their ways when faced with penalties for their bad behavior. Let’s find some simple and effective solutions to improving safety in the downtown area, solutions that do not solve one problem by creating two other problems, that do not hurt businesses. Increased awareness, peer pressure on those who behave badly behind the wheel or behind the handlebars, and a little more police traffic enforcement is probably all that is needed here to make this a safer and more enjoyable area for all.
DI residents touched by community’s support after death of puppy
On Friday, May 24th, our puppy Stanley was killed in a hit-and-run in front of Blondies Bagels & Café. He had his leash attached to a chair, but somehow panicked and ran into the street. He died instantly, and the driver neither stopped or slowed down.
In response to this tragedy, Daniel Island neighbors and total strangers acted with the utmost compassion and kindness. A young woman immediately offered to take Stanley to the Daniel Island Animal Hospital, emptying the back of her SUV so that our puppy could be carried gently; someone else alerted the hospital, and staff were waiting for us and rushed him inside. The doctors and technicians, caring and intense, did all they could for him and for us, committing all they had to their efforts. Someone immediately started a GoFundMe in Stanley’s honor to support Berkeley County Animal Center: they have received over 20 donations, most from people we’ve never met. Blondies called to check on us. Calls and notes of sympathy came from all over the island.
Our loss hurts. But we have been overwhelmed by the kindness, generosity and thoughtfulness of the Daniel Island community. Our heartfelt thanks to those many people who reached out and helped us during our tragic time. We are fortunate to have such neighbors.
Malcolm and Katie Smith
Editor’s Note: The GoFundMe account referenced above can be found at https://tinyurl.com/BerkeleyAC. Donations will be matched by the Daniel Island Community Fund (up to $5000).
Reader asks bikers to keep sidewalks clear
A reader submitted this photo to The Daniel Island News of a group of bikes parked in front of the entrance to Pierce Park Pool one morning last week, blocking the sidewalk. The visual offers up a good reminder of why it’s important for bikers to park bikes in designated areas to allow a clear path on the sidewalk for pedestrians.