Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Bus Response

In response to an incident that occurred a couple of weeks ago, I received this email last Friday:

Dear Mr. Smith: 

 Thank you for your recent email following up on Service Request number 195992532 you placed regarding the reckless operation of a Ride On Bus. I apologize for the situation you experienced. As stated in the email response Supervisor Cherry sent to you on April 24, our Silver Spring/Bethesda Ride On supervisory staff investigated this serious incident. Supervisor Cherry identified and interviewed the bus operator. He admitted to operating the bus in an unsafe manner and he extends his apologies to you and your wife. The bus operator was counseled and appropriate remedial action was taken. Additionally, he will be scheduled for driving refresher training class as soon as possible. His overall performance will also be monitored by our Safety and Training Department and our Road Supervisors for an indefinite period of time. Ride On takes passenger safety, safe operation of our buses and quality customer service seriously. I sincerely apologize for the incident and for the lack of safety and professionalism on the part of the bus operator. I appreciate your taking the time to bring this matter to my attention. Should you have any additional concerns regarding Ride On, please do not hesitate to continue to contact us through the Montgomery County 311 Customer Service Center.
 Carolyn Biggins, Division Chief Montgomery County Ride On

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Reporting a Near-Miss

This past Saturday afternoon we almost deid. No, really - we were only three feet away from being plowed under by a Ride-On bus. My wife was staring eye-to-eye through the front window of the bus at the driver, who yelled at us. As usual we had waited for the crossing signal, but the bus driver did not wait for us. He floored it, and had to slam on the brakes when he finally noticed us. We were in the crosswalk, had the light, and were being careful and paying attention.

My wife continued to cross once the bus stopped, and I followed her. I had to weave to the left because the bus was in the crosswalk. The driver yelled something through the window that I could not understand. I said, "What did you say?"

"You have a lot of trust in my brakes!" he yelled through the door as I continued past.
"We have a lot of faith in your driving, too," I replied.
As I pushed my cart-full of groceries back into alignment with the ramp, the driver accelerated around the curve, and the rear-end of the bus nearly hit me again. He sped=off down Fenton Street. It was a 16 bus on its way to Silver Spring Station.

I cursed as I looked down and noticed that the thumb camera around my neck was turned-off. DAMN

I stood on that corner for another minute or two, trying to collect my wits and let some of the adrenalin coursing through my body dissipate. My wife checked her phone - it was 3:28 PM. As we walked the rest of the way home I began to get angry.That driver had acted recklessly, and Kathleen and I almost had to pay for it with our lives. Then, he yelled at US, as if we were doing something wrong.

When we finished unloading the groceries I started looking for a way to report this incident. I tried 311, but I got a message to call-back on Monday, or go to the website and file there. This I did, although I have to say that the process was confusing, lengthy, and frustrating. It probably took 25 minutes or more.

Here is the auto-response:

Thank you for contacting Montgomery County Government. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you. A service request has been created and sent to the appropriate County department for fulfillment.

Service Request Number: 195992532
Status: In Progress
Estimated Response Time: 7-10 Days
Area: Transit
Description: To file a Ride On service complaint, you may either call MC311 Monday - Friday from 7:00 am - 5:00 pm or create a service request below. The complaint will be investigated by a Transit staff member. To create a service request, please fill in required information that is indicated with red asterisk (*). In addition, the following additional information is required: Complaint date time, Incident Date time, Origin, Destination, Route or Bus Number, Media Used, Complaint Category, Complaint Subcategory and provide a brief description of incident. Without the above information, the complaint cannot be properly investigated. To obtain information regarding an Ride On accident or injury, please contact Risk Management at 240-777-8920.
For more information you may visit the following websites:
Please keep the service request number so that you can check the status of your request. In addition, you can click the following link to view your service request status online.


Thank you,
Montgomery County, MD
Please do not reply to this email.

That was Saturday, this is Wednesday. and I have gotten no response. I sent a copy of the automatic email response from my complaint to my Councilmember and asked for help.. It has the number and date on it. I told her that I thought someone should speak to this driver, and I offered to do it for them.

Hear is what I would say;

"Sir, you are a professional driver with the lives of many people in your hands. You should obey all traffic laws, travel at a safe speed and be especially mindful of pedestrians, who are - after all, what everyone of your riders are when they get off of your bus. You must never be in a hurry, but always in control of your vehicle. While others may drive around you with tension and anxiety, you must remain calm and aware. You're not making pancakes, you're playing a much more important role in the lives of hundreds of people, both seated behind you and crossing in front of you. Take care, driver. Be a professional."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sligo Avenue between Fenton and Woodbury.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Standard Procedure...

I took these photos tonight as I walked home down Sligo Avenue from Piney Branch Rd. They show construction equipment left overnight in the sidewalk, along with the Road Work Ahead signs. Surely there are other options that don't include blocking the sidewalk or narrowing the passage so that people with carts, strollers, or wheelchairs can continue to get through.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Put it anywhere

Here is another example of third-party actors in Montgomery County public right-of-way being allowed to park their vehicles across the sidewalk. The truck above was actually located AT the 3rd District Police station on Sligo Avenue.

My daughter and I were headed to downtown Silver Spring for lunch, through what I beleive was a Verizon project. I took these photos on the way. We had actually crossed, mid-block to get to this side, because the work was being done on the other side.

Friday, February 24, 2012

What do you get?

I got an email from Montgomery County's ADA Compliance officer today. She seemed surprised and a little upset that I did not know she existed. I did , of course, but what can I say. When you go to the County website about ADA, you will find nothing about right-of-way issues. PARKING, yes, but nothing about sidewalks.

Take a look;

Montgomery County Department of General Services

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The good work

Yesterday I got a call late that a higher-up from PEPCO would be meeting with an inspector from DPS, and Jeff from MCDOT on Sligo Avenue to look at what was going on with the final steps of the utility pole project started back in 2009.

We walked from Woodbury to Ritchie, looking at all the places I posted photos of the day before. I got assurances that someone would be out to fix things this week. OK. I'll believe it when I see it.

What was more important was a chance to talk one-to-one with Dane from PEPCO, Chris from DPS, and Dave, the contractor who did the finishing work. They got an earful about why this stuff is important. I hope just a little of it sank in.

there are still a lot of questions, and I am afraid that no one is going to like the answers. But, the moral of this story is that it is better to embrace this positive change than it is to try and avoid it. Do it because it is the right thing to do, and do it well because it is important.

Sligo Nine

I can't believe it, but I am once again involved in initiating another infrastructure rehabilitation project. Yes, once again, I talk with the public utility, and they have no idea what to do about ADA. Once again, I actually put WSSC in contact with MCDOT through email. Thanks to Councilmember Ervin's office, who put me in touch with WSSC.

View Sligo Nine in a larger map
The point is, there is nothing in place to ensure that new infrastructure is replaced in compliance with ADA. This in effect prolongs the discrimination another thirty years. I have lived here for 15 years, and the sidewalks have always been bad. If I am the most tenacious advocate in the County, then things must be VERY bad.

Here are the nine fire hydrants on Sligo Avenue, just to be clear where they are and what they look like. I am naming them for members of the US Supreme Court.


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map


View Sligo Nine in a larger map

This reinforces my position that Montgomery County is not managing the public right-of-way properly, and is therefor discriminating against people with disabilities, like me. That WSSC and MCDOT have not had even a single discussion - that I am the initiator of that first discussion - means that nothing has changed since I filed a complaint two years ago this coming March 1st. The problem still exists. It has not been handled, or even addressed. It has been avoided.

I honestly think I may need to move.

Trying to make light of a situation that has me frustratyed and down - feeling like I am just wasting my time fighting city hall. Sorry for the weak humor...


I missed one. I named it Curly...

View Sligo Nine in a larger map

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sligo Avenue in 2005

These are among the first few sidewalk photos I ever took - circa 2005.

This particular location has been "fixed," but the conditions are still very similar along this stretch of Sligo Avenue --7 years later.

Walking the dog

This afternoon I took Opie for a walk down to Sligo Neighborhood Park - down at the eastern end of my street. These uncropped photos were taken along the way. The total length of Sligo Avenue is less than a mile. The distance between my home and the park can't be more that 1.300 feet. All of these photos were taken in that distance, on only the south side. All of the photos except for one face east.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Monday, February 6, 2012

Blind Man's Nightmare

On Friday, my daughter got out of school early, so we decided to go to Downtown Silver Spring for lunch. We left home about 1:30 PM. We stopped at Safeway on the way there, so we approached the intersection of Wayne and Fenton from the west side of Fenton. The crosswalk was blocked, as you can see in these photos, and sort-of see in the video. So, we did as the signs said and crossed to the east side of Fenton. - which was also blocked. Both sides of the street - effectively the entire intersection, was closed to pedestrians - I THINK. People were still crossing, so we did too.

There were no real thoughtful directions for pedestrians. Just the usual Crosswalk closed used other side signs. Only this time the joke is on you because BOTH SIDE are closed!

No police officer of flagman to direct traffic, just a blind guy who would be lost in an intersection he knows so well , if not for his daughter being by his side. . If I had approached this intersection alone, I would not know exactly how to negotiate it. Walking in the street with traffic is dangerous, no matter who you are - but people were doing it here - right in front of where the new library is going. Right through where the Purple Line is supposed to travel.

I have no idea how long both sides were blocked and people were waliing in the street with the vehicles. The obstruction on the west side of Fenton had been removed by the time we headed back, 30 - minutes later. Could have been dozens of pedestrians who passed through this dangerous work zone with no protection - could have been many more.

What does this say about how important pedestrians are in the master plan? We mean nothing. Hardly worth mentioning.

I am so discouraged. What am I up against? Is it even worth the fight? To have worked so long on this and have a situation like this take place... I just can't explain it. I could just throw-up my hands...