Friday, March 25, 2011

You're Never Alone

Yesterday I received an award from Inpact Silver Spring during their annual Impact Now! breakfast at the Silver Spring Regional Services Center (how about finding a better name for this great institution?). I received the Pioneer Award for - well, you know.

As I listened to Jeff describe me to the large crowd, I realized that I actually have been trying to bring people together for a long time, despite my recent lone-wolf routine. I have stopped looking to create a non-MC-affiliated group to advocate for pedestrians here, mostly because I kept failing at it - to my great personal disappointment.

To stand with the other recipients - who had both tried and succeeded in spectacular ways - made me feel a little lonely. Whatever success I have achieved on this issue is mostly due to my efforts to bring people together, so why do I feel so alone? Perhaps it is because I stopped trying to bring people together for a while, and focused on my own personal experience.

I have always encouraged others to record and share their experiences. If not with me, then with public officials. I just took my own advice.

As for the video below, I had not planned to speak. I had just not prepared at all. I knew I would be asked questions afterward, so I only had talking points prepared. Probably better that way!
Looking back, I wish I had thanked Councilmember Valerie Ervin for nominating me for this award.

Knowing that you understand means a lot.

I have watched Impact Silver Spring from afar for many years now. After meeting some of the staff and community members who are involved with them, I can say that I am really impressed. The work that they are doing in the community - though it is hard to quantify - is important and obviously driven by inspired people. Optimism and risk-taking combined to open-up the community. Receiving recognition from them gives me hope, and I don't feel so alone anymore.

I am so grateful to be able to add my story to the tapestry of personal tales that Impact is weaving so carefully and intricately.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Trash Day

It has been my experience that - in a situation where multiple uses come into conflict with each other on the ROW, pedestrians get the least consideration. In these photos, you can clearly see the entire ROW. The road is clear, but the bus stop and sidewalk are blocked by recycling bins and trash containers. A person in a wheelchair would have to turn back at theis point. A blind person would have trouble negotiating this location with a guide dog or cane. Bus riders are expected to hang-out with the garbage. Even an able-bodied person (whom one might refer to as a "pedestrian-by-choice") would have to step into Sligo Avenue to get by.

If Montgomery County and SHA want more people to choose pedestrianism, then obstructions like this need to be addressed. They won't fix themselves. Problems like this will continue to exist as long as they are tolerated.

But hey, it's only one day each week, right? So, who cares?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Thayer Canyon Revisited

Just outside the Safeway near our home is a sidewalk that is really treacherous for pedestrians. I like to call this stretch, "Thayer Canyon"

The "tree boxes" found on Thayer are similar to ones found all over Silver Spring. The pavers covering these boxes move dramatically over time. During rain and snow the substrate becomes soft, and the pavers move when stepped on. These paved boxes are often found in places where the sidewalk is also narrow - like out side the Safeway. If two people meet along this stretch, one of them MUST walk in the box. The missing and uneven pavers are a sure way to twist your ankle, bruise your shin, or suffer a fall - if you are not very careful.

This is especially true at night.

I can't believe that these boxes are anywhere near ADA compliant. Even if they are, they remain a danger and discouragement to all would-be pedestrians in Silver Spring. And yet they are still being installed - the latest in front of 8630 Fenton in 2010. I have had to walk through them once or twice - It's not fun.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Area Man's Biggest Accomplishment Not Ever Killing Anyone With His Car

"Overall, I've got a lot to be proud of: I worked my way through college, I'm a good friend, I have a solid job," said Widmer, whose most enduring† deed thus far is never having sent a pedestrian rolling over his hood or slamming his car into a bus full of schoolchildren.

Read the whole story at
The Onion

Sunday, March 6, 2011


I have often said that the twisted and tilted utility pole could easily be a symbol for Silver Spring. Pedestrians are certainly well-familiar with them.

A fitting sign for a place where the sidewalk abruptly ends. This sign should also read, "No pedestrians."
Oh, and here is another one on the next block.

There should be another, smaller sign just before this one that reads, "Sidewalk Narrows." I understand the need for signs this large in some circumstances, but speeds in this congested area should allow smaller signs. Smaller signs won't take-up so much of the walkway. In the interim, can't crews deploy these signs in places where they don't block critical passages (such as the curb ramp at this location)?

Is it too much to ask that construction site managers consider pedestrian access?