From The Daniel Island News
Letters to the Editor - May 9, 2013
May 8, 2013 - 9:30:45 AM
Make the retail area safe
for pedestrians and cyclists
A recent article in this paper discussed options for boosting business on the Island. Business owners and community leaders quoted in the article focused mainly on slowing traffic down with berms and plantings, and adding more on-street signage. What nobody mentioned is getting people out of their cars by making our retail core safe and appealing for pedestrians and cyclists.
I walk and ride my bike on the island nearly every day. And at least once a day I’m forced to dodge aggressive drivers –especially at intersections, driveways, and in crosswalks where pedestrians are supposed to have right-of-way. It’s so bad that people literally drive their cars around me without slowing down, or honk their horns and gesture insanely when I step into a crosswalk. Their message is, “get out of my way or I’ll run you over.” That is if they notice me at all since (ugh!) driving is SO distracting while texting and talking on the phone!
I’ve seen parents pushing strollers and trying to shepherd kids on bikes with training wheels across intersections and crosswalks on Seven Farms Drive and they’re put into similar positions. Each time I see a young family try to cross the street I’m terrified that an aggressive, careless driver will injure or kill one of them. Many drivers on DI should be ashamed of themselves. Their disregard for pedestrian and cyclist safety, and lack the basic courtesy is disgraceful. More importantly it’s dangerous. I know since I’ve been hit by an aggressive driver while riding my bike safely and legally. (Thank God I wear a helmet and gloves when riding!)
Want to get people into the retail core? Let’s start now by making the police enforce the laws protecting pedestrians at busy intersections on a daily basis (versus leaving their cars sitting idly behind the fire station most of the day or hanging out by Greystar Apartments and the Clements Ferry underpass). Longer term, narrow the roads by putting in divided bike lanes. This will encourage people to get out of their cars and slow down. Add flashing lights and signage to crosswalks to make them safe and visible. Finally, close Seven Farms Drive to traffic from time to time, set up tables, and invite local merchants, restaurants, and food trucks to turn the retail core into a destination for people rather than a fast road off the Island.
What I’m recommending is working in a growing number of US cities (New York, Portland, Austin, Charleston, SC), and throughout Europe. Maybe –just maybe, they could work on Daniel Island too.
Have Fun - Do Lots of Good
With the Rotary Charity Duck Race coming up on Saturday, June 8, the Rotary Club of Daniel Island thanks all Daniel Island residents who participate in and donate to this worthwhile event. We hope residents will come to the festivities race day morning. There will be games and activities for children and food and beverages for everyone. The main event is the duck race, with the drop of rubber ducks from the Wando River Bridge at 11:30 am. The first 35 ducks across the finish line win cash prizes ($10,000 for first place) and the first 10 have a chance at a $1 million prize.
More meaningful than all this fun, though, is all the good that you create with a $10 duck donation. That cute little duck is more than just another pretty face. It represents good works that benefit many local people in many ways. Here is a short report on some, and by no means all, of the outcomes produced from last year’s duck race. The largest portion of the proceeds is used for projects and programs on Daniel Island and in the Cainhoy peninsula. Examples of those activities include book bags for the Daniel Island Library, a dictionary for every 3rd grader at the Daniel Island and Cainhoy Schools, classroom books for the Daniel Island School, holiday meals for needy families, college book cost assistance for needy students, new bleachers for Governor’s Park, a summer entrepreneurial-skills program at Daniel Island School, and the new (and well received) Daniel Island Speakers’ Series. Matching funding is generously received from the Daniel Island Community Fund for some of these programs; others are fully funded by Rotary.
The next biggest portion of duck race proceeds is donated to local charities that submit a specific program proposal (no unspecified, general gifts) that must meet criteria regarding the nature of the program and degree of local impact. We try to cover a range of charities that address the issues of hunger and nutrition, housing and shelter, literacy and education, children and families, and health and wellness. A small portion of race proceeds is given to Rotary international programs, notably clean water (through Charleston-based Water Missions International) and polio eradication.
I hope you will agree that is a lot of good and a Daniel Island initiative worthy of your support. Rotary members will be visible at several venues from now to duck race day seeking donations. If you do contribute, please know that you will be helping many people in many ways. You will be building better communities and changing lives. And, having fun in the process. Or, as one person put it, “Where else can you have that much fun and do that much good for $10?”
William C. Stevens, Jr.
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