During Monday’s Town Council meeting, council member George Cianciolo petitioned the town to look into eliminating right turns on red in busy downtown intersections, like the one at Franklin and Columbia streets.
“With all the pedestrians and cyclists and cars, eliminating right turns on red at busy intersections would seem to be something that makes sense,” Cianciolo said. “One accident is one too many.”
James Gallagher, spokesperson for the Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center, agreed vehicles turning right on red could pose a threat to bicyclists and pedestrians.
“Sidewalks are technically a lane of traffic, but we’re not taught that when we’re taught to drive, so motorists typically don’t look at sidewalks for pedestrians when crossing an intersection,” he said.
Gallagher said from 2008 to 2012, vehicles making right turns on red struck 84 North Carolina pedestrians. The number of bicyclists hit was lower — only seven cyclists were struck over the same five-year period.
The disparity between pedestrian and cyclist accidents is not a surprise for some students who ride their bikes throughout campus.
“I can’t think of a single instance where right turn on red has been an issue for me as a cyclist, because I don’t ride in the sidewalks,” senior Tyler Ramer said.
However, Gallagher still thinks right turns on red are a valid concern to have when considering both cyclist and pedestrian safety.