Saturday, July 30, 2011

Georgia x Sligo

The bridge in these photos is one of SHA's first projects. It was built in the 1930's to resolve a chronic problem with cars being struck by trains at this busy crossing. It is a charming, Depression-era landmark that helps to defines Silver Spring.

It is also a key trail head for theMetropolitan Branch Trail - which would allow pedestrians and cyclists access to the Transit Center without using surface streets through Downtown and avoiding numerous conflict points. Along with improvements in pedestrian access on Sligo Avenue, the first phase of the MBT would give thousands of residents better pedestrian access to Silver Spring Metro Station.

This intersection - along with others like Ga. X Silver Spring Ave, Ga. X Thayer Ave - will see dramatic changes in pedestrian behavior over the next decade, as new buildings continue to rise, and new businesses populate the Georgia Avenue Corridor. Improvements are great, but are we looking at all the angles? Is there a comprehensive approach, or are we just winging it?

View Montgomery Sideways in a larger map

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sidewalk Improvs

Yesterday afternoon I braved the heat and headed into downtown Silver Spring for lunch. I walked over to Georgia Avenue, where I stopped and took this photo. It shows the sidewalk out of commission as it goes beneath the CSX bridge. I stood there for a awhile and saw pedestrians crossing Sligo Avenue a few yards to the east of the crosswalk. Sure, there is a sign there telling you to cross the street, but if you need to go the other way - say, to Jackie's, or Lotus Cafe - what do you do? Crossillegally, that's what you do.

Meanwhile, where are the workers??? Are you telling me that they shut-off this important intersection, and then left it?

This location will be the scene of many risky behaviors over the coming days. Another instance of SHA training pedestrians and driver s alike to ignore the rules and trust their own common sense. Fortunately for us here in Montgomery County we have some fairly smart pedestrians.

I don't understand SHA's approach to the Georgia Avenue sidewalk project. I'm not sure they have one, really. It looks like a shot in the dark to me.Be careful out there!

Friday, July 22, 2011


"No one forced Raquel Nelson to jaywalk the night of her son's death. The suggestion here isn't that the city owes Nelson anything for the consequences of her actions. But there is something to be said for designing cities with an eye toward how people actually behave, not how urban planners wish they would"

Read the entire story at Huffington Post

Saturday, July 16, 2011


From last week's Montgomery County Gazette newspaper.

The whales must look after themselves...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Roadside Memorial

For my son and me, vacation began with a few days in Raleigh, my home town. I drove when I lived there, but now I am on foot, and Raleigh - especially North Raleigh - is not very pedestrian friendly. Still, when we found ourselves on our own for a day or two, we managed to walk a couple of places, including Chubby's Tacos, in a shopping center on Durant Rd -- A 3/4 mile walk

It was a hot and humid day - even by NC standards. The walk took us through winding streets with little traffic and no sidewalks past cul-de-sacs and mostly-new construction. AS we drew closer to our destination, we turned on to busy Durant Rd. I think it was a dirt road when I was in high school. Now it is a bustling five-lane thoroughfare between a mall with restaurants, and a middle-school. And we walked and walked, looking for a crossing point. We evn considered jaywalking, until we saw this...

I knew what it was as soon as I saw it. Kids had tried to cross here, not wanting to walk all the way up to the light, and then wait forever for it to let them cross. The death was the result of poor transportation planning - it was easy to see, even though I didn't know the details.

When I returned home I looked for the story behind this roadside memorial...

See more about this story at

Tragic story, but not unusual. I find it really amazing that no significant remedial steps were taken in response to this death. What, do they think it was just a tragic accident? Was it the victims fault? Until public officials realize that the blame rests on the design of the road, this kind of thing is destined to be repeated over and over again.

Even more than a year later, and the memorial marks the spot on Durant Rd. Too bad the same dangerous conditions remain there as well.