Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Pedestrian; S.O.L.

This afternoon we went to the Safeway to do Thanksgiving shopping. On the way back we ran across a tree service truck parked over the sidewalk. Couldn't get my 100lbs. of groceries past the truck, which was still running. We waited for a few minutes, thinking that the driver would return. No one came. I heard a chainsaw in the back yard of the house where it was parked, so I went back looking for the driver. I found him and asked if he would please move his truck. I asked him why he didn't use the parking lane instead of blocking the sidewalk. He said he didn't want to get "boxed in." I told him that a lot of people walked here, and some of them were pushing strollers or had service animals, and this kind of thing was dangerous. He moved his truck, but as we passed he pulled it right back up on the sidewalk – this time even more.

When I got home I called the Police non-emergency number and reported the truck. I waited about 45 minutes, and then went down to see if anything had changed. It hadn’t.

I called again, and even went in to the 3rd District Station – right across the street. No one seemed to know how to handle my complaint, and the receptionist there told me to call the non-emergency number again, which I did.

After about a 20-minute wait, two officers met me in the parking lot of the station. Basically, they told me that there was nothing they could do, and the the roadway was their priority. I asked if they could see the possible dangers brought on by this obstacle, and they didn’t really seem to care. They cut the conversation short, and went in to the station. When I left, the truck was still parked there, blocking the sidewalk.The sidewalk was blocked for more than two hours.

I did exactly what I was advised to do by my Councilmember, and by Sgt. Harmon. I knew it would’nt do any good, but I tried anyway. I was persist ant, but I tried always to remain polite. I was direct, but I never raised my voice or cursed. Everyone was polite, although I felt that the Officer was a little annoyed with my persistence. It took a big chunk out of my afternoon,and I left disappointed. Better luck next time, I guess. See, I told you that pedestrians are not respected in Montgomery County! Hey Pedestrians - TOO BAD! You will just have to keep dealing with things like this as best you can. Is this acceptable in a Smart Growth area? Don't we want people to be able to get around without driving? Don't we need reliable ROW access for pedestrians for that to happen? If this kind of thing can happen, then the ROW is NOT reliable for pedestrians.

Pedestrians in a Smart Growth area must be treated AT LEAST as equals. If you want to do it right, pedestrians should get preferential treatment in places like Bethesda and Silver Spring.

STAY SAFE. Don't try anything chancy. Obey the law, even if that means re-tracing your steps(even if you are towing 100lbs of groceries). The time you could save is not worth your life. Go to a crosswalk! Take your time. When you come across these obstacles, don't put yourself in danger by walking in the road! Find another way around, but stay out of the street!

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