Saturday, December 31, 2011

Truck You, Too

At around lunchtime on Fridaay morning, my wife and I were making our way from the Silver Spring Metro Station to home. On Bonifant St., near Georgia Ave, we walked-up on this truck parked on the sidewalk. No sign, no nothing that you should expect to find at a n obstruction like this.. Just deal with it, I guess. We crossed to the other side, mid-block.

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Nice job, Traffic Systems Inc. Blatantly ignoring Federal and State AND County Law in broad daylight, and no one bats an eye. Nice work endangering the public with impunity. Very professional.

Later down the road, we came upon this vehicle parked completely blocking the sidewalk in front of the AAMOCO station.

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Monday, December 5, 2011


These photos were taken last Thursday evening at Georgia X Sligo. This intersection, which is directly adjacent to the CSX bridge underpass, has a crosswalk only on the north side during normal service. Now that this crosswalk is closed, are pedestrians supposed to cross on the south side? I don't understand what "use other side" means in this instance. There doesn't appear to be one.

Of course, the default meaning is, "find another way." Still, you know what is going to happen here - people will walk in the street to get around this location. They will take risks directly because of this reconstruction.

Does this mean that these curbs should not be redone? Of course not. It means that contractors need to take extra care to prevent an accident.

What do you think? Does this look like extra care to you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

I wasn't paying attention

I took this photo last night while walking the dog. On the way back to the house I came across this "Steel Plates Ahead" sign in the middle of the sidewalk on Chicago Ave - a few hundred feet from my home. I first came across this sign a couple of nights before, so I know it has been here for a few days. Contractors are doing utility work and repaving streets in the neighborhood. There was another sign in the sidewalk coming from the opposite direction, and rubble and equipment on sidewalks in other locations nearby.

I understand that this is necessary work, and that it is going to create inconveniences that everyone will have to deal with. I also know that there is more than one way to skin a cat, so to speak. This sign is an obstruction that pedestrians must negotiate around by walking in the street. How is this acceptable? It is clear proof that MCDOT is not managing the right-of-way to keep it safe and accessible to pedestrians.

The contractor is doing something wrong, but MCDOT is responsible for holding the contractor to certain standards. MCDOT cannot claim that they are not aware of these violation, because I have been screaming about them for years now. Why can't MCDOT fix this universal problem? Why are they contracting with companies that don't follow ADA guidelines - even a little?

There is an hierarchy when it comes to construction projects and who must suffer the consequences. It goes something like this:

Contractors - Do everything you can to accommodate their needs.

Drivers - Must be impacted as little as possible.

Bikers - Keep the road open and they can get by.

Pedestrians - Huh? What did you say? I wasn't paying attention.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Walking to Jackie's

A whie ago I bought some raffle tickets at the South Silver Spring Neighborhood Association Block Party and won a gift certificate to Jackie's restaurant. Last night my wife and I walked up to Jackie's for dinner - it's just up the street from our house on Sligo Ave.

Of course, this means actually walking down Sligo Avenue, which is always a crap-shoot - especially between Fenton and Georgia. Cars and trucks are often parked over the sidewlk - forcing pedestrians to step into the roadway into oncoming traffic - while trying not to soak their feet in the oily green puddles left from the auto repair shops that line the south side from Fenton to Georgia.

And then there is this nasty little trip hazard...

Sticking-up from the sidewalk is a two-foot-long piece of steel embedded into the concrete.It is broken and bent down to the surface of the sidewalk, but was obviously intended to help shore-up the nearby utility pole. It has been here for years, and is often accompanied by one or more trucks that make the passage even more adventurous.

One must either learn to accept this part of the journey, or drive to Jackie's. If you trip over it because you had a couple of drinks with dinner, it's your own damn fault.

I have reported this location directly to MCDOT many times over the years, but it's still here.

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Is this piece of long-time-broken infrasturcture the responsibility of Pepco, of MCDOT?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

More of the same

The shadow on the ground in the forefront of this photo is cast by the Silver Spring Civic Center. Across the street from the heart of the new Silver Spring is yet another example of poor construction site planning that puts pedestrians at risk. Site plans almost never take into account the amount of pedestrian traffic - preferring to deny continuous access by pedestrians in favor of complete inaccessibly - as if to say, "Keep them safe by keeping them out." The contractors would rather use the area for free parking, rather than insure the safety of pedestrian by constructing temporary facilities - as the law requires.

Three sides of this lot are blocked, and there is no continuous walkway from Cedar to Strossnider's without crossing the street. This set-up is a design for tragedy that encourages pedestrians to walk in the street with traffic.,-77.020855&spn=0.022945,0.048409

Has County government learned nothing? How are these plans gaining approval?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pedestrians Redefined

On Tuesday evening I am facilitating an initial meeting of a group called Walk Silver Spring. I hope to begin the process of building a community of self-professed pedestrians to advocate for better pedestrian policies and practices and to promote walking in Silver Spring. No group exists that focuses on transportation issues here from a purely-pedestrian view. No group exists that can give voice to the lives of pedestrians in Montgomery County without rely almost solely on accident statistics.. No group exists that tells the story of pedestrians from a pedestrian viewpoint. No group exists that is not sponsored or staffed by government, and that has no other purposes than the well-being of pedestrians.

Pedestrians are the least of all the transportation users. They have little representation and get a very thin slice of the budget, but they make-up more than 20% of the population. We are a quiet, but large group on the margins of the transportation system. The older, the younger, the browner, the pooer, the weaker, the disabled, the voiceless.Voices comnplaining about tiny fractures in the system that hardly seem worth noticing.

These tiny cracks riddle the pedestrian transportation sytem. They are like tiny brushfires that the County and State rush-around to put out - without enough water. The people who walk through this landscape become the helpless. Maryland and Montgomery County say, "We're sorry, but this is the best we can do for you now. Buy a car or a bicycle and maybe we can work with you."

Still, pedestrians carry-on because they must. Life is out there, and you can't let not being able to drive stop you. Of course, there are also those who choose to be pedestrians. Some are because they want to keep fit. Some have an environmental-conscience and want to use as little petroleum as possible. For many there is a social-connection that comes from walking their neighborhoods. It is a potential way to meet your neighbors.

Whatever brings you to this issue, it is time for you to stop reading and start taking steps to make things better. It is not that difficult, and many people make a difference on other issues by doing the same. Come to this meeting. Talk with your neighbors - with other pedestrians like you. Let's find a way to make a positive difference. Let's discover the story behind the stats, and make sure decision-makers hear that story. Don't accept being marginalized any longer!

Let your neighbors know about this meeting! Ask them to pass it along!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Worst

Here is another candidate for The Worst Sidewalk in Silver Spring...

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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Truck Stop

Last evening my wife and I decided to take a trip downtown to but tickets at The Filmore and have dinner at Sushi Jin. On the way home we were confronted with this ruck - again. I took these photos, and this video. This is one of the most dangerous situations I have ever come across. The intersection is dangerous anyway - without this driver making this HUGE bonehead move. The crosswalk is blocked from the crosswalk because DHCA built a beautiful barrier there some years ago. This encourages people going from the Greyhound Station to 7-11 to jaywalk. The only pedestrian entrances to this property are the driveways. Fenton Street dips dramatically at this location, and the truck is parked perfectly to hide pedestrians trying to get across Fenton at a point where speeds are higher and vision is obscured... and the Police form the 3rd DistrictStation just around the corner drive right by and seem not to notice at all.

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Earlier in the week I walked down to Lotus Cafe, and took this video on the way there. This is Sligo Avenue, on the south side near Fenton St.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lake Bonifant Revisited

On my way home from downtown Silver Spring this morning I came across Lake bonifant again - a scenic spot that appears when it rains or snows. I love watching the waves rolling in each time a car splashes through - but don't stand too close unless you enjoy a nice spritz to start the day. Hey, if your feet get wet it's your own damn fault for not wearing galoshes.

But seriously - this is dangerous. A pedestrian who is distracted by being splashed of having to tippy-toe through the puddles is not watching the traffic. It also encourages jaywalking . Who wants to stand there and wait to get splashed??? forcing pedestrians to cross outside of the crosswalk here, MCDOT is basically saying that it is OK to jaywalk in Montgomery County - Go ahead - do what you have to do...

In the video you will see a woman get sprayed by a passing car, and then cross against the signal. You will see several other people come into frame from the right side - who have just crossed several yards to the right of the crosswalk. You will also see people who get their feet soaked crossing in the crosswalk. Notice the waves as the course across the puddle...

Montgomery County is participating in the problem it is hoping to solve with enforcement. The Police and MCDOT are working at cross-purposes here.

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I know that MCDOT has been aware of this problem for some time - because I have told them about it many times. This location is across from the new Library site and a major pedestrian thoroughfare to Downtown Silver Spring.Fenton Street was recently paved here. The new asphalt is only a couple of feet away. It's very annoying and shows a complete lack of regard for pedestrians, but more than that - it is very dangerous.

This video is from April, 2009;

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Other Side

Wednesday evening I headed from my home on Sligo Avenue to Docs in Progress on First Avenue. It was 6:30, overcast and a light rain had just begun to fall. I crossed over Georgia at Bonifant and headed north when I cam to the intersection of Georgia and Wayne - where the crosswalk was blocked.

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I took these photos....

I was in a hurry and the photos didn't come out too well, but you can still see that this is completely inappropriate for the amount of pedestrian traffic that comes through here. It is poorly marked, and a disabled person would have a real problem here. It is an extremely dangerous situation for anyone, especially considering the nature of the traffic here. How long has it been like this? I don't know. Let's see how long it takes from here...

I stepped between the tre and the fencing to get through and cross Wayne. A person in a wheelchair would have to go down to Dixon Avenue to cross - assuming that isn't block as well. No signs say this, so one might expect a disabled person to use their best judgment, I guess. Seems like a flimsy fall-back plan to me.

... and then, there are the intersections at Bonifant, Silver Spring, and Sligo Avenues to do. the other side of Georgia Avenue.SHA is responsible for making thinks OK for pedestrians during all phases of planning and construction. The photos here show that this site does not meet that requirement at all.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tiger Pit II

Last month a PEPCO contractor "finished" the job on Sligo Avenue. They left this hole in the sidewalk, at the site of a water meter. The hole is a couple of inches below the surface of the sidewalk, and is neatly hidden in the shadow produced by the street light and the utility pole. Here's a look at what this means at night...

This location is a manufacture accident waiting to happen. Will it be a large enough accident to show-up on County stat? Probably not, but the victim will still have to deal with an injury caused by a contractor who has no idea what they are doing.

Walk & Ride

Thursday, August 25, 2011

(No) Turn on Red

Walking back from downtown today I decided to stop at the intersection of Thayer Avenue and Georgia Avenue and take some video. My subject was the cars that routinely pull-out across the crosswalks, trying to sneak-out into Georgia Avenue -- which is almost impossible at this busy time of day (1:30 PM). AND - these intersections are NTOR.

I figured I wouldn't have to stand there long to get something indicative of the usual driver behavior at this intersection, and I was right. I was only there for a few moments before I caught this one.

These nice new intersections and curb cuts don't solve this persistent problem. It's going to take some enforcement to solve this. The same problem exists at Georgia x Bonifant and Georgia x Silver Spring.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Sligo side-step

This video is from 2009. Not much has changed in two years...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


These photos were taken this morning on Sligo Avenue. I was on my way from downtown when i came acros this construction sign - doing an ineffective job of warning drivers that work is being done at the corner of Georgia and Sligo. They placed this sign directly across the sidewalk , making passage difficult - especially for anyone with a guide dog, a wheelchair, or a stroller.

When combined with the fact that auto-repair shops on the other side of Sligo have parked vehicles that they are working on over the sidewalk, Sligo suddenly becomes inaccessible to many people with disabilities. Want to get to Georgia Avenue? You will have to take Gist Avenue. Oh, wait, there are probably cars parked across the sidewalks there, too.

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Sligo Avenue is a busy street during the day, and is a particularly BAD place to be walking in the street.

One seemingly-insignificant thoughtless action can combine with others to create a dangerous situation.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011


State law requires that all transportation projects consider pedestrian access in ALL PHASES of design and construction. While it is clear that SHA has given a lot of thought to the design of new curb cuts it is installing along the east side of Georgia Avenue, it is just as clear that they have thought very little about pedestrians during the construction phase.

I don't know when this particular corner first went out of service, but i first noted it photographically on July 30 - almost two weeks ago. Today, they began pouring concrete.

I am certain that it was blocked for some time before then, as have many of the corners on this side of Georgia Avenue between Sligo Ave. and Colesville Rd. This entire stretch has been blocked in some form or another for months. I hope this is the last hurrah for this project - at least on this side of Georgia Ave.

I know that these new curbs cuts are difficult, and that they will take time, no matter how you schedule the work. But,... Is that it? We are just going to accept this because it is too difficult to resolve?

The truth is, SHA and MCDOT could do better. MC Department of Permitting Services could do better, too. In Silver Spring, conditions for pedestrian during construction are horrendous and sometimes terrifying. Pedestrians are well-served in the design phase, but are marginalized or ignored during construction -- and "It can'nt be helped" is often the response to concerns. No one would allow this kind of behavior if we were talking about the roadway. it would be unthinkable to block two lanes of Georgia Avenue for the entire Summer. How can we then accept the equivalent for pedestrians in pedestrian-rich Silver Spring? Are pedestrians as important to Silver Spring as vehicles, or not?

SHA, MCDOT, and MCDPS should shorten the time it takes to finish these projects. It can be done if it is made a priority - and the General Assembly already did that. They should provide temporary pedestrian facilities in locations that will be closed for extended period (and especially in high-traffic areas or places that have unique dangers.). This can and MUST be done to protect the public safety.

A sign is not enough.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Parking Lessons

This afternoon I took my daughter and one of her friends to Fire Statio One for lunch. As is often the case, people have parked vehicles across the sidewalk in front of the Aamoco shop and Pacci's restaurant. Even the most oblivious person should understand that these sre not appropriate places to park a car. I have spoken to a manager at Pacci's about this, but i suppose I am just a local weirdo to them.

Usually, I just walk past - having taken so many photos of this practice at this location that it harldy seems worth it anymore. How do I get these people to park these vehicles properly? Do I call the police? Do I go into the establishment and confront the owner? Do I offer to find them parking lesson?

The vehicles in these photos are parked such that there is not enough clearance for a person in a wheelchair to pass. The lip of what are/were driveways make negotiating these locations tricky. They are definite trip hazards.

SHA just redesigned and poured new concrete at this location, but the old driveway in front of Pacci's should be removed so that people don't park there ad block the sidewalk. The Aamoco station needs to park their vehicles in a way that doesn't block the new sidewalk. I have complained, but this just seems to be a situation we can all ignore...

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