GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Bicyclists across the City of Greenville are calling for more safety measures following two recent deaths.
Hannah Dixon is the Executive Director for the Poe Mill Achievement Center. It’s an after school program and summer camp.
She and her husband ride their bikes to a local park with the campers so they can play, but Dixon said it’s not so safe anymore.
“It’s less than half a mile away and it’s a very easy walk or bike ride and we do it a lot, but it’s very scary crossing Pete Hollis because so many cars run straight through that red light,” Dixon explained. “We’ve both just ridden bikes in Greenville for a long time and over the last five or so years we’ve noticed how much less safe our roads have become.”
This week, Dixon and others addressed City Council asking for more traffic enforcements that would include making drivers stop on red.
She thinks that could’ve prevented her from her accident last May.
“My bike slid under his car. I landed on my back. I was pretty scraped up,” Dixon said. “But also felt like I was okay. But I have suffered some pretty intense back pain ever since and have not been able to bike or hike or kayak or jog like I did before.”
Dixon’s husband Bennett has shared the same experiences.
“I’ve been in four car related accidents on my bike,” he said. “I’ve truly only been hit head on twice. It’s really terrible. I’m very fortunate that I didn’t get injured or have any real major damage, even to my bike.”
He too argues enforcing traffic laws at red lights would be a good start.
“I’ve seen more people over the years kind of run through that last second and just run straight through lights without any regard for them or stop signs,” Bennett Dixon said. “I also think signage would be good. Just bike signs, or we’ve had the neighborhood slow zone campaign pop up in the last few weeks and I think that’s really good just to see visual reminders that we need to slow down and be aware of cyclists and pedestrians.”
He said in the long run he’d like to see protected bike lanes.
“Whether that’s plastic barriers that are every few feet, or concrete barriers or somehow putting parking lanes between where cars are driving and where bikes are riding,” he added. “I think in the long run the future of the city is going to be measured on pedestrian and cycling accessibility more so than just how many cars can be pushed in and out every day.”
Right now, while Bennet Dixon said he knows what to look for when guiding campers to the park… He still has his worries.
“There’s been several times where if I had continued out into the road without stopping and checking for a few extra seconds, I probably would’ve been plowed by a car in front of all the kids,” he said.
The two put together a petition last week calling for more safety measures to be put in place. It received hundreds of signatures in just 24 hours.
Recently, Greenville City Council earmarked $250-thousand dollars to specifically address pedestrian and bicycle safety.
City spokeswoman Beth Brotherton said mobility is one of Council’s top five priorities this year. Right now, a study is underway to identify problem areas.
“Taking a deep dive into what are some of the most unsafe spaces in Greenville and identifying solutions for those,” Brotherton said. “Making sure that we are making data-driven decisions… And then taking that to an expert consultant and having them identify some solutions for us that can be put in place quickly to ensure that we are a safe community.”
As for enforcing traffic violations, she said the Greenville Police Department is on it.
“The Greenville Police Department has a dedicated traffic enforcement unit… Their goal is to watch out for those violations and to protect people in all forms of transportation,” she added. “In many of our major thorough fairs throughout the summer, Greenville Police is partnering with Highway Patrol on the 100 deadly days of Summer effort and even stepping up traffic enforcement in many places.”
Which she said doesn’t only apply to those busy intersections.
“But identifying where are people breaking the rules and making sure that more officers are available during the summer months when people are out and about,” said Brotherton.
The Dixon’s said they love Greenville, but voiced that the future of the city’s growth will depend on pedestrian and cycling accessibility and safety.
“We want to be able to walk around and bike around and drive around our town safely,” Hannah Dixon said. “This will promote a better Greenville.”