Saturday, April 24, 2010

One Risk Too Many

In January I posted about a construction site on Fenton Street, between City place and 8630 Fenton. The project owner completely took the sidewalk mid-block, and all there is to warn pedestrians is tis little orange sign - which is drowned-out by all of the other signs at the location. So - people are basically ignoring the sign and walking in the street here. I know that the site has restricted access, and that the project owner needs to block the sidewalk. The problem is that nothing is done to separate pedestrians from traffic in the street. Multiply this incident by the hundreds of other similar locations across the County and you can understand how this procedure encourages pedestrians to take risks. IF you don't take risk, you can't get anywhere.This is Education in a bad way.

The vehicles parked here force pedestrians even further into the street. I have ponted this out - and months later the County Department of Permitting Services is still allowing hundreds of pedestrians to put themselves at risk each day. THOUSANDS since January.Comnined with the APS and Ramp improvements at the corner, this area is a nightmare for pedestrians. Notice the kids in the arms of the people who just walked in the street to get paste this location...

Anf another thing - the tree boxes along Fenton St. and other streets in Downtown Silver Spring that have not been fitted with grates are still there - busting ankles and tripping-up disabled people. If we just ignore them, will they go away???

I am proud of a lot of the things County government accomplishes, but the practice of treating pedestrians as second-class citizens must end. Despite the best intentions of MCDOT and MDSHA, they perpetuate the problem when they fail to consider how their actions - or blind-eye-turning - reinforces the very behavior they hope to end. Pedestrians and motorist alike will continue to take risks - if that's what you force them to do. As long as "Right-Of-Way" applies only to cars, the pedestrian death toll in Montgomery County will never go down. Pedestrians are an afterthought in most projects, even today. Left to fend for ourselves - with no air-bags or safety belts.

Pedestrian access is a matter of transportation equity. The truth is, Maryland and Montgomery County spend little money on pedestrian planning. The majority of money spent in ROWs goes toward making things clear for motor vehicles. Comparatively=speaking, almost nothing is spent on pedestrian infrastructure. In Montgomery County your access to the ROW is based on your ability to own and/or operate a motor vehicle. Government cares more about people in motor vehicles than they do for pedestrians.

Many pedestrians aren't just out for a walk. They are living their lives. Going to work. Taking their children to the Doctor's office. Shopping for the week's groceries. They walk because they can't drive. Because they don't have the money, or they have a disability. Some are too young - on their way to school. These pedestrians are walking to bus stops or Metro. They are on their way to the movies, or to shop Downtown. Ignored and forgotten by government, some of them return to their cars - preferring to pay with a credit card rather than with their lives. But for others, there is no car to hop into. For them, the only option is to hope that THIS risk won't be one risk too many.


  1. I just found your excellent blog and will become a regular reader. thanks.

  2. Terrific post and mid-block construction is a pet peeve of mine as well. As to those Fenton tree boxes, bad for us peds/bikers/wheelchairs/strollers, etc. but ALSO bad for the trees - stepping in the boxes on those granite rocks and compacting the soil is not helping the health of these poor street trees and I predict they will be short-lived. Metal grates that span the box and distributed the weight across it, not ON the soil, are much better.