Is it time to make no left turns permanent on Rehoboth Avenue?

City committee decides order for painting bike safety sharrows on streets
January 11, 2022

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach City Hall
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Traditionally, the winter season is when Rehoboth Beach commissioners and committees evaluate the city’s rules and regulations to see if changes need to be made in advance of the next summer season.

It appears one committee may look at changes that should be made for vehicular traffic at the conclusion of the next summer season – specifically, whether the city should continue to use no left- or right-turn signage at signaled intersections on Rehoboth Avenue.

Committee member David Diefenderfer brought up the subject at the end of a Rehoboth Beach Streets and Transportation Committee meeting Jan. 7. He said there are more and more people in town well into the fall and winter seasons after the signs are taken down.

Diefenderfer said he was in town for Thanksgiving and noticed how often cars making left-hand turns from Rehoboth Avenue onto First and Second streets were backing up traffic. Why does the city still allow this, he said he found himself thinking.

Public Works Director Kevin Williams reminded committee members it would take a change in code to implement a year-round ban on left turns on Rehoboth Avenue.

According to code, from May 1 to Sept. 30, no motor vehicle is allowed to make a left turn onto North First and North Second streets from the eastbound lane of Rehoboth Avenue; onto South First and South Second streets from the westbound lane of Rehoboth Avenue; or onto Rehoboth Avenue from First and Second streets.

Ultimately, the committee decided to bring the subject back for further discussion and possible recommendation to commissioners.

Sharrow painting order decided

The committee also decided the order in which to paint more than a hundred sharrows onto a handful of city streets. The biking safety measure was approved by city commissioners last year.

After beginning with Rehoboth Avenue, the committee decided, the city should move on to Bayard Avenue/Second Street second, State Road third and Henlopen Avenue last. 

Committee member John Gauger said he doesn’t want to see any sharrows painted on Rehoboth Avenue, because he doesn’t want to encourage bicyclists to use it. He shudders every time he sees people riding their bikes on Rehoboth Avenue, he said.

Williams said coming into the city from the west on Rehoboth Avenue Extended, bicyclists will still be encouraged to take the designated trail behind the Rehoboth Beach Museum. However, for the bicyclists who don’t, the sharrows will begin on the eastern side of the circle.

It’s more about letting the motorists know they’re sharing the road, said Williams.

There was a brief discussion about doing Henlopen Avenue first because that’s the path to/from the Junction & Breakwater Trail, but ultimately, it was decided that street would go last for a couple of reasons – first, there are enough bikes on that street to slow vehicular traffic naturally; second – homeowners on Henlopen would probably complain.

Before that first stencil was even dry, Williams would be getting complaints, said committee member David Mann.

Height of trail signage changed

At the request of the committee, Williams said the height of a number of signs marking the Junction & Breakwater Trail have been lowered to make it easier for bicyclists to see the signs when on their bikes. 

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