The Chapel Hill Police Department urges motorists and pedestrians to be extra cautious at new pedestrian refuge islands and crosswalks along Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Franklin Street.
The new pedestrian islands and crosswalks are located mainly at mid-block crossing locations with bus stops on both sides. The pedestrian refuge islands and crosswalks add to the convenience and comfort for pedestrians crossing major roads.
Police caution that pedestrians should not feel overly secure when using a marked crosswalk – to the degree that they may aggressively place themselves in a hazardous position. Unfortunately, some drivers fail to obey the North Carolina law that says they must yield to pedestrians in a crosswalk. For this reason, pedestrians should remain alert while crossing.
Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard as well as Franklin Street are multi-lane roadways. Therefore, drivers should yield to pedestrians entering the cross-walk on their side of the roadway only. If pedestrians are in the cross-walk but crossing in front of the opposite lanes of travel, drivers do not have to yield. Drivers are cautioned, though, to be vigilant and watchful for pedestrians that place themselves in a hazardous position by crossing the street at unmarked crosswalks or failing to make sure that it is safe before crossing. For this reason, drivers should remain alert as they approach all pedestrian cross-walks.
Drivers should also be cognizant of other drivers when approaching cross walks, anticipating that the vehicle directly in front of you may have to stop suddenly to either avoid hitting a pedestrian or another vehicle.
Safety tips for pedestrians:
• Even though Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and E. Franklin Street now have several cross walks enabling citizens to safely cross the street and reach their destinations, pedestrians should ensure before entering a cross walk that driver’s have stopped their vehicles and that it is safe to cross.
• Before entering the cross walk, pedestrians should make sure that traffic in the closest lanes of travel has stopped. Upon reaching the pedestrian islands, pedestrians should check again to make sure that it’s safe before continuing through the cross walk to the other side of the roadway.
• At these marked crosswalks (where traffic control signals are not in place) drivers of vehicles should yield the right of way, slowing down or stopping if need be to so yield, to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within the crosswalks.
Safety tips for drivers:
• When approaching a crosswalk, be prepared to stop for pedestrians.
• Failure to yield to a pedestrian in a marked crosswalk is a violation of North Carolina law.
• Similarly, North Carolina law also prohibits drivers from passing other vehicles that are stopped for pedestrians.
• Do not wave people across or flash your headlights; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching.
• Instead, try to make eye contact with pedestrians to reassure them that they have been seen.
• Chapel Hill Police may ticket motorists who do not yield to pedestrians or attempt to pass vehicles that are stopped for pedestrians, and the monetary penalty can be $235 or more
The crosswalks are located as follows:
• Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard (NC 86) between Piney Mountain Road and Timber Hollow Court
• Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (NC 86) near Estes Drive
• Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (NC 86) near UNC Highway Safety Research Center/Hillsborough Street
• Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. (NC 86) near Town Hall
• East Franklin Street near Elizabeth Street
• East Franklin Street near Couch Road