Create Beach Zone in Forgotten Mile

August 16, 2013

My wife and I are residents of the Forgotten Mile, that part of Route 1 between the Bayard Avenue traffic light in Dewey Beach and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge.

The Forgotten Mile is somewhat unique in the beach area as it combines relatively high-speed traffic (40 MPH which drivers interpret as 50 MPH) with high density pedestrian and bicycle traffic.  This creates a dangerous mix, especially after dark.

The traffic challenge here isn’t just about speeding drivers.  Pedestrians, joggers and bike riders also share responsibility.  In the fatal Forgotten Mile accident a pedestrian was jaywalking at dusk.  Over Memorial Day weekend a pedestrian walking in the bike lane stepped into an oncoming state police car.

The Gazette published the crosswalk rules recently, but at certain times pedestrians take their life in their hands if they wish to assert their right to use them.  The simple reason is that traffic moves too fast for drivers to stop.  If the crosswalk laws provide little real protection pedestrians have no incentive to use them.

The point is that this stretch of road entices drivers to speed and pedestrians and bicyclists to take chances.  As we all know, the car always wins. With this in mind I would like ask that the traffic study group consider the following suggestions.

First, designate the area east of the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal bridge as a Beach Zone.  This recognizes that these areas have more pedestrians, joggers and bikes due to the residential nature of the beach areas.  In the Beach Zone speed limits would be lower, fines would be higher and traffic laws would be more heavily enforced.

Second, install traffic calming devices.  For instance, a raised crosswalk would give drivers a reason to slow down, and make the crosswalks more useful to pedestrians.  In other words, design the road to make it less inviting to high speed driving.

Third, if the traffic calming devices are not effective enough install an additional traffic light, either at Ann Avenue or Old Bay Road.  These two intersections bracket the Valero station, an area that has had most of the accidents.  A light at either intersection would provide a break about halfway down the straight away.  (On this point the light actually needs to turn and stay red for a meaningful period.  The Bayard Street light rarely turns red and thus provides no meaningful traffic break.)

There is no question that this is a difficult issue and that DelDOT funds are limited.  However, the Beach Zone issues can be solved, and maybe at a relatively low cost.

Lee McCreary
Rehoboth Beach




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