Watching the video of a man being struck by a Vineyard Transit Authority bus is jarring to see. We were pleased to learn that Skip Bailey was out of the hospital within a couple of days, and is at home recovering from his injuries. It could have been a whole lot worse.
We feel bad for the bus driver, too, who is described as being “shaken up” about what happened. Of course he is. No one wants to hit another human being with a vehicle. It has to be a sickening feeling.
There was another thing in that video that smacks you when you see it. Five Corners, perhaps one of the busiest intersections on the Island because of its proximity to the Vineyard Haven terminal for the Steamship Authority and because it’s one of the main routes to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, is very poorly lit.
This is not the first time that there has been a pedestrian injured trying to cross this intersection in the dark. In January, a woman was seriously injured as she crossed Beach Street near Five Corners. There were mitigating circumstances beyond the lighting in that incident, that involved the driver being distracted by a bag of popcorn he had just purchased from Cumberland Farms.
We have to believe had the intersection and the crosswalk area been better lit, the driver, though distracted, would have seen the person crossing in the crosswalk, and had time to react.
There is no substitute for eye contact when it comes to avoiding an accident.
Five Corners can be difficult for a pedestrian to navigate during the daylight hours. Darkness just exacerbates the problems there.
During the recent late night move of the vessel Raider out of the warehouse of Capt. Bob Douglas at Five Corners, they had to set up temporary lighting so they could see what they were doing.
We’re surprised at just how dark that whole stretch of Beach Road is near The Times offices. Recently one of our employees was driving toward Oak Bluffs when he saw the new flashing lights activated at the crosswalk near the Net Result. Sure enough, there was a person in the crosswalk wearing dark-colored clothing. He was able to stop and let the pedestrian cross safely, but without those warning lights, he fears he would not have seen the individual before it was too late.
Those warning lights are a big improvement there, and would go a long way toward slowing traffic at Five Corners. We wonder why the Massachusetts Department of Transportation hasn’t added more of these. We also wonder why the Tisbury select board isn’t asking MassDOT to do more to improve the safety at Five Corners, in light of these recent incidents.
We asked MassDOT about the lighting, and were told that no new lighting was part of the Beach Road project. “A lot of the work at Five Corners was not part of this construction project. The only lights MassDOT installed are mounted on existing utility poles at the intersection and on one of the poles approaching the intersection,” MassDOT spokesperson Judith Reardon Riley wrote in an email to The Times.
It’s time that the state did look into safety on the busy road, and paid more attention to the needs of the Island.
Safety should be a priority for both the town and the state. Sadly, right now it feels like there is a tragedy waiting right around the corner.