Thursday, April 21, 2011

Practice What You Preach

Last night I walked by the Silver Spring Library construction site. I witnessed two pedestrians walking in Bonfiant St. to get by. There seems to be plenty of room right now for temporary pedestrian facilities at this location. Why are there none??? This is yet another location in Silver Spring that has been closed to pedestrians for an extended period without any attempt to make things safe.

On the one hand Montgomery County spends money on the Street Smart campaign that tells people to do the right thing and be safe. On the other hand, they don't follow their own policies and create this dangerous situation on public property.

The County can't claim that the property owners isn't cooperating - not this time.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Day at the Beach

Anyone who has followed this blog will recognize my old-familiar nemesis - Thayer Canyon. This is a busy place - with hundreds of people filing through here daily. Yesterday, this location had all of the ingredients for a lovely day; crystal clear water, sand, and warm breezes. But, all you will get is a twisted ankle in a wet shoe.

Could the design flaw of this piece of infrastructure be any more evident? And - there are hundreds of these all over downtown Silver Spring. Like the tilted PEPCO pole, these traps have become a seemingly invisible symbol of inequality in our community. For some, unnoticed. For others, unavoidable. It all depends on whether or not you can drive.

I can't imagine that this is a good situation for the tree, either.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Deja Vu

Yesterday afternoon I walked with my son to Downtown Silver Spring to run some errands and get a bite to eat. This truck was parked in the same place as before, but this time the driver was sitting there too. He looked to be sleeping, so we just scooted by and continued on our way. I wasn't feeling that augmentative, anyway

As we continued along Fenton St. we were joined by a nicely-dressed blind man who was quickly making his way behind a white cane. I looked at my son and said, "This is me when you go off to college." As we approached an intersection where a couple were waiting for the light, the man unknowingly entered their personal space, and the moved a little to the left after noticing his cane. I wondered, if this man had come upon the truck I had just sidled around, would the truck driver have moved his truck? Would he even notice the cane? Would the blind man make do, turn around, or decide to take a risk?

Action like parking a truck over the sidewalk - when there are other , safer options - is unacceptable on its face. You can see the 3rd District Police station from this location. I imagine that dozens of officers drove by this dangerous situation without noticing it and taking appropriate action. This seemingly-insignificant situation is repeated by trucks all over Montgomery County hundreds of times each day. Delivery trucks, landscaping trucks, tree service trucks, construction trucks, contractor trucks. Combined, these situations create a significant impediment and a major safety risk on County and State roads. Acceptance of these practices has the effect of training pedestrians to walk in the street with traffic - over and over, hundreds of times each year. I walk almost everyday - and I come across a situation like this almost every time I walk.

Fact is, if you are a pedestrian in Montgomery County, you MUST walk in the street.

For those of us who depend upon the sidewalks to access our hometown, acceptance of this behavior means peril. Do Police Officers spend so much time in their vehicles that they don't see this situation? In my opinion, this is a glaring example of just how invisible pedestrians can be. Given that some of these pedestrians are blind, I worry...

Friday, April 8, 2011

Truck You!

This afternoon I went for lunch with Jeff and Ramin, who are working on an assessment tool that the County can use to improve pedestrian access and connectivity . It was a really interesting meeting, where I learned some more details of how MCDOT plans to develop this tool over the next few months. I hope to be involved throughout the process. I will report when I know more.

What I really wanted to show you are the photos i took on the way there.

This is adjacent to the intersection of Sligo Avenue and Fenton St. This location is an office building that used to feature an Eagle Bank. The bank closed years ago.

As mentioned in earlier posts (Snar'd One!,Five Days Later) this location contains a number of risk factors - including a narrow passage, landscaping issues, a utility pole, and heavy traffic - both pedestrian and motor vehicle. The bushes here have long been a restriction, if not an obstacle. It is good that they are being removed, but this vehicle is park in a way that forces pedestrians to step into the street, AND, it restricts a drivers view of the pedestrian to boot. VERY DANGEROUS.

No one was with the vehicle. it was lunch time, and I would not be surprised if the owner of the truck was having lunch somewhere - oblivious to the extremely dangerous situation he had set-up with his careless action.

These photos were taken at the site of the future Silver Spring Library. The sidewalk has been blocked along the north side of Bonifant, from the corner of Fenton to the row of older buildings that house Thai Duram and some other shops. There is no obvious danger here, but it is another location closed to pedestrians for extended periods of time.

Given the location of this blockage, you can expect pedestrians who are headed eastward to walk in the street to get by - no matter what you do to pursuade them to do otherwise.The only way to prevent this is to provide a separate place for pedestrians to walk through this location without crossing over. Temporary pedestrian facilities may not be appropriate for every location, but I believe that most very-urban sites (like this one) need them. In the light of day it may be difficult to imagine that anything is wrong with the way this site has been handled, but what about late at night? In the rain?

In any case, a person in a wheelchair will have to cross to get by here. In order to do this safely, they would have to backtrack to Georgia Avenue - several hundred feet away.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


This afternoon I walked to Lotus Cafe on Selim Dr. to chow-down on some spring rolls. On the way trhere I walked down Gist Ave., where the sidewalk was blocked in several places by motor vehicles parked in front of Murray's Auto Clinic. Onm the way back I walked down Sligo Ave., which was also blocked by illegally parked cars in three places. I had to walk in Sligo Ave. to get by. A person in a wheelchair would be in big trouble here.