Following our previous article regarding everyone’s right to the road, we take a special look at pedestrians using the road. This includes people who are walking to school, work, and running errands, and the many Kershaw County citizens who run or walk for exercise and recreation.
Let’s start by acknowledging that Kershaw County doesn’t have a lot of sidewalks. We’re a mostly rural county, and sidewalks on every mile of our roads just isn’t feasible. But the lack of sidewalks, or the poor condition of existing sidewalks, does not mean that people shouldn’t be walking or running on our roads. It is possible for all of us to use the roads safely.
What does it look like to run or walk safely on our roads without sidewalks? Pedestrians and runners should always run or walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic. This allows the pedestrian to see any vehicles coming towards them, and reduces the chance of them being struck from behind. Beyond safety reasons, South Carolina law also requires it. As per SECTION 56 5 3160: Where neither a sidewalk nor a shoulder is available, any pedestrian walking along and upon a highway shall walk as near as practicable to an outside edge of the roadway and, if on a two way roadway, shall walk only on the left side of the roadway.
Other laws pertaining to pedestrians include: SECTION 56 5 3230: […] every driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian or any person propelling a human powered vehicle and shall give an audible signal when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or any obviously confused, incapacitated or intoxicated person. And SECTION 56 5 3130: When traffic control signals are not in place or not in operation the driver of a vehicle shall yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to yield to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian is upon the half of the roadway upon which the vehicle is traveling or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the roadway as to be in danger.
As pedestrians, it is our duty to use the roads as safely as possible by walking on the left side of the road, paying attention to traffic, and it doesn’t hurt to make yourself more visible with bright clothing and lights when it’s dark. As drivers, we need to operate our vehicles safely around pedestrians and runners by slowing down and assessing the situation before giving plenty of room when passing a runner or walker.
Does Kershaw County need more sidewalks and safe road crossings, and do they need to repair and improve existing sidewalks? Absolutely, yes. The Kershaw County Runners, Walkers, and Cyclists Facebook group is advocating for a Complete Streets policy to be taken into account in all future infrastructure planning. As our county’s population grows, there are more and more people walking and running on our roads. Infrastructure change doesn’t happen overnight, but we should be asking for streets that improve walkability for our future.
Walkable streets lead to happier and healthier citizens, economic growth, improved environment, and a higher quality of life. This is something that all citizens of Kershaw County want for ourselves and for future generations.
What can you do now? As a driver, when you approach a walker or runner, please slow down, and give room. As a walker or runner, please exercise appropriate safety measures like walking on the left side of the road, and making yourself visible. Encourage your family or friends to walk or run with you. Ask our elected representatives to plan for safer streets that are made for all road users, not just cars. Kershaw County is blessed with natural beauty and favorable weather. Let’s get outside and enjoy it together!