Walk Wilmington looks to improve pedestrian safety in areas of high injury

Walk Wilmington looks to improve pedestrian safety in areas of high injury
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:42 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Community members learned more about a plan to make it safer to walk around Wilmington as Walk Wilmington talked to people about how they hope to build on the city’s current pedestrian plan.

“We’re really passionate about the downtown trail specifically,” said Emily Kohls, who lives in Wilmington. “We do a lot of biking and we’d like to do more walking.”

Halyburton Park’s event center filled with people Tuesday night, all hoping to learn more about the changes that may be coming to Wilmington’s neighborhoods. The Kohls say they avoid walking in many cases because of safety issues. Walk Wilmington says that’s a common concern.

“We specifically asked in our public survey how should we be prioritizing pedestrian improvements,” said WMPO’s deputy director Abby Lorenzo. “Overwhelmingly at the top of that list was safety.”

The latest Wilmington Pedestrian Safety Study found that the city has one of the highest pedestrian crash rates in the state, especially in areas with a high density of minorities.

“Personally, I’d like to have better and safer place to walk our dogs, especially,” said Kyle Kohls. “Crossing streets and cars and stuff with dogs is terrifying in Wilmington.”

In the last two months, at least four people have been hit by vehicles in the city. Two of those victims died. The Kohls say there are a few issues that could be resolved to help fix that problem.

“The sidewalks that lead to nowhere I feel like is a common thing that people say. You have to either switch sides or there’s just nothing for a prolonged period of time,” said Emily Kohls. “The crosswalks are very much so lacking.”

Walk Wilmington organizers are paying close attention to how to address the issue.

“To identify those priority focus areas, we used NCDOT’s high-injury network, essentially identifying where were the most conflicts where we see fatalities, injuries,” said Lorenzo.

As a result, they’re looking at several areas where improvements can be made, including Market St., College Road and 3rd St.

As for the Kohls, they’re excited to see what may lie ahead for the city, and they hope to soon lace up their sneakers in a more walkable neighborhood.

People can view Walk Wilmington’s draft plan on the organization’s website and submit feedback to include what they would like to see implemented.

Walk Wilmington hopes to have the draft finished and ready to present to City Council sometime this spring. After that, assuming Council approves the proposed plan, it’s just a matter of time and funding until these ideas come to fruition.