Road Safety Audits

A Road Safety Audit (RSA) is the formal safety performance examination of an existing or future road or intersection by an independent, multidisciplinary team. It qualitatively estimates and reports on potential road safety issues and identifies opportunities for improvements in safety for all road users.

SCDOT has conducted three RSAs in Greenville County in 2023, and Bike Walk Greenville has served as part of the independent review teams to share feedback on potential safety improvements for pedestrians and cyclists.

Wade Hampton Boulevard

The most recent RSA on April 26-27, 2023, was for Wade Hampton Boulevard (US-29) from E. Lee Road to Watson Road, an 8/10-mile segment along a seven lane 45 mph corridor with no sidewalks, where 311 crashes were recorded from 2018-22. The average daily traffic count in 2021 was 41,000 vehicles day.

This road is classified as “Dangerous by Design” by Smart Growth America because it has been designed to move motor vehicles through an area quickly with no regard to the safety of vulnerable road users (“VRU’s”)- people on foot and on bikes.

In her book Right of Way-Race, Class, and the Silent Epidemic of Pedestrian Deaths in America author Angie Schmitt describes roads such as Wade Hampton Avenue, where statistically the poorest people die because of the car-centric design.

The Pedestrian Crash Summary in the RSA packet, led us to question other members of the RSA team about the “primary contributing factor.”

The Greenville County Sheriff’s office representative responded that, “his experience was that many people want to commit suicide by lying in the roadway, and he has observed others who just wanted to keep warm by lying in the road on a cold night.”

“Improper crossing,” or “illegally in the roadway,” applies to every person who crosses the 7 lanes of traffic to get to where they need to go. Three such crossings resulted in death.

The Wade Hampton Fire Department representative said that there were a lot of very poor people and many homeless people crossing Wade Hampton, and only one pedestrian push-button signal, with no marked cross walk at E. Lee Road.  The other signal is at the Walmart Super Center and Aldi at Tappan Drive, with no crosswalk and no pedestrian push-buttons.

Available data shows that many of the pedestrians in this area live in the mobile home park near Publix.

Greenlink Route 508 serves in this segment that provides service to downtown Greenville.  One of the RSA participants is a Greenville County employee who lives in the RSA area. He commented that he has parked at Walmart and taken the bus to work, but is always very nervous about crossing to get to his car from the return bus stop on the northbound side. 

The challenges towards effective solutions

The RSA team agreed that an upgrade of the two signalized intersections must be done with proper crosswalk markings and pedestrian push-buttons and count-down displays to at least provide the option of a marked crossing to use. We know from studies of other locations in Greenville that mid block crossings where crosswalks/lights are not present will still occur. This is for several reasons: it is human nature to take the most direct path/route, especially when moving on foot; intersections also can pose risk of vehicles not stopping or obeying traffic signals from numerous directions, and many vulnerable road users opt instead to cross where they can look left and right for motor vehicles.

With the high motor vehicle count, adding another traffic signal to stop motor vehicles was not up for discussion.

At the RSA for Poinsett Highway on March 26, 2023 there was an interesting discussion about the Hawk signal that only turns red for motorists when a pedestrian pushes a button. As shown below, this design minimizes the crossing length of Poinsett Highway with a center refuge island.

Unfortunately, SCDOT data shows that the area residents and pedestrian users rarely push the button. Most people cross Poinsett on foot along their direct walking route rather than navigating to the crosswalk and stopping traffic at the signal. The SCDOT data is backed up by our own observations of road user behavior in this area. Anecdotally, we have been told by pedestrians that they don’t want to stop traffic with a push button light, and that they are afraid of drivers ignoring the light and running it. Additional data collection may be useful in determining where and when the investment of a push button light should be made in future safety improvement projects.

The below document was presented during the RSA, and is part of the SCDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Action Plan that was published in May of 2022. It provides potential countermeasures that can be considered, but unfortunately will unlikely prevent more pedestrian injuries and deaths.


Wade Hampton Boulevard, is a road that has never been designed for the people who must cross, and this RSA will only provide a better pedestrian crossing at two locations 8/10 mile apart. This RSA is a sobering reminder of how widening roads and increasing vehicle speeds along busy corridors creates ‘mobility deserts’ for the most vulnerable among us, and significantly increase car dependency in our community by making it unpleasant and dangerous to navigate even short distances unless one is driving a motor vehicle.

Unlike a highway designed to connect locations that are spread apart with limited options for entering and exiting, these ‘stroads‘ combine the activity of a street (people and commerce) with the design of a road (focus on moving high volumes of motor vehicles at high speeds), with deadly consequences.

Since retrofitting this infrastructure is very expensive and complicated, often the next best solution is to look for alternate, low traffic parallel streets for bicyclists and pedestrians to use as ‘bypass’ routes to avoid or minimize exposure to areas of heavy motor vehicle traffic.

We will also continue to advocate for careful long term planning that better accounts for a variety of mobility choices, in order to avoid the building of additional car-centric spaces that fail to provide safe, connected access for all.

River and Richardson Streets

The March 8-9, 2023 RSA for the River/Richardson corridor in downtown Greenville that presented a much more positive opportunity for bicylce and pedestrian safety compared to the Dangerous by Design Wade Hampton Boulevard.

We learned from the SCDOT Safety office that this short 0.84 mile corridor was the second most dangerous road in the state based on the number of pedestrian and cyclist crashes per mile.   Fortunately, the average vehicle speed along River and Richardson Streets are well below the posted speed limit of 30 mph, which is likely why no deaths have been recorded. 

We at Bike Walk Greenville highlighted that there is a lot of bicycle traffic from visitors to our City that patronize Reedy Rides, and we discussed the idea of a two-way protected bike lane on the west side of the street as a possible solution.  A west side two-way bike lane would reduce many of the conflict points from vehicles leaving the numerous parking lots and garages on the east side of the corridor.

There is a long way to go in this process, but we are very encouraged that this RSA should lead to a major safety improvement for our downtown walkers and bike riders.

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