Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Montgomery County to Pedestrians: "You're on your own..."

After making a number of calls and sending a few emails it became clear to me that Montgomery County wasn’t going to do anything to help me clear the sidewalks near my house – sidewalks I need to get to Metro, Safeway, Downtown Silver Spring, and elsewhere. In order to get where I am going I have to walk in the street, or cut through the ice and snow myself. So, I did it myself.

It took three hours of continuous hard work to get the way clear to the Ride-on bus stop at 850 Sligo Avenue. I still didn’t make it to Fenton – maybe tomorrow. Dozens of people walked by in the street while I was working. A Ride-on Bus let someone out with no way to the sidewalk and drove off, leaving them to fend-off the cars behind. This is an atrocious situation that is so very dangerous – people walking home from work in the street at dusk. A recipe for disaster.

I called my Councilmember, the Director of the Regional Services Center, another person at RSC, and Jeff Dunckel. I was told that MCDOT is not “resourced” to clear snow plowed on to sidewalks. BULL. This is a training situation, not a resource issue. Plow operators can be trained not to cover intersections with three-foot-high Ice Dams while they are plowing. ”There is nothing we can do,” is just not an acceptable answer.

Montgomery County has am obligation to make the ROW accessible for all users after a winter storm. Sure, it takes a couple of extra days to get sidewalks cleared, but it is now FOUR DAYs LATER and sidewalks in MC are still blocked. Thousands of Pedestrians are walking in MC streets RIGHT NOW. This is an atrocious situation and a recipe for disaster.

Too bad for you pedestrians. You will just have to deal with it the best way you can. If that means spending several hours digging-out your neighbors’ walks and local Ride-on stops, so be it. As second-class citizens, you pedestrians are on you own. I am a blind guy who had to dig himself out because the County wouldn’t respond to my pleas for help.

I have done my part today – trying to make-up for the lack of responsibility and consideration of others. Still, you can’t seriously expect pedestrians – including the elderly, children, or people with disabilities - to be the front-line for digging-out their transportation system themselves, can you? I guess you can – at least in Montgomery County, Maryland.

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