Posts Tagged ‘Aspen Hill’

Yesterday I posed a pedestrian safety question to Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett during a Virtual Town Hall Meeting. Here’s our exchange:

Adriana from Mid County 
6 years have passed since MCDOT [Montgomery County Department of Transportation] and SHA [State Highway Administration] issued the 2011 Pedestrian Road Safety Audit for the Connecticut Avenue corridor near Aspen Hill, yet the majority of the audit’s 53 recommendations haven’t been implemented. What will the county do to compel SHA to implement the much needed pedestrian safety improvements, including installation of audible signals, ADA compliant pedestrian islands, increase the crossing time (currently 20 seconds to cross 9 lanes!), and traffic calming measures along the Connecticut Avenue corridor?

Mr. Leggett

Thank you for your question. The County will continue to advocate for implementation of the recommendations to Connecticut Avenue, but we cannot compel the State to implement anything on their infrastructure. Our Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee is also keenly interested in these improvements and is also encouraging the State Highway Administration (SHA) to implement improvements to Connecticut Avenue. Although we feel that implementation of these recommendations has been too slow, we recognize that SHA has a statewide network to manage and that they have limited funding for these types of improvements.

 It is important that you convey your sentiments to members of our State Delegation who can also assist in providing additional support and resources for SHA to implement more of these types of initiatives throughout the State.

In our ongoing conversations with SHA, we will continue to encourage them to move forward with improvements recommended by the Road Safety Audit Program. Meanwhile, MCDOT has updated the pedestrian clearance interval timings for traffic signals along Connecticut Avenue between Veirs Mill Road and Bel Pre Road to the new 3.5 feet/second walking speed standard.

(The full transcript of the Virtual Town Hall Meeting can be found at: http://www2.montgomerycountymd.gov/mcgportalapps/LiveDisc_Trans.aspx?schdID=98 )

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crossing

Nine lanes of traffic. On one side, the neighborhood. On the other, the local supermarket and other shops that serve the neighborhood. 20 seconds for pedestrians to cross. There is no ADA accessible pedestrian island if you only make it half way. And cars are turning left while you are trying to get to the other side. If you are blind, there is no audible signal to tell you when it’s time to start crossing.

Will you make it safely across? I almost got run over as I was doing a walk audit of this intersection, where Connecticut Avenue meets Aspen Hill Road.

The county and the state transportation departments have known about these (and other) dangers to pedestrian safety on this corridor since at least 2011, when they co-authored a pedestrian road safety audit. Since then, virtually none of the recommendations of the report have been implemented.

As part of my Walking Action Plan for Aspen Hill, I plan to invite my county, state, and federal elected officials to join me on the Connecticut Avenue Crossing Challenge, so they can see for themselves how streets are failing to meet the needs of pedestrians. I will need their help to bring about the long-needed safety improvements to this corridor.

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During a recent walk near the Aspen Hill Library, I came across this painted manhole cover.

 

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The other day, I spent twenty minutes observing the crosswalk that connects the Giant and Kohl’s on Aspen Hill Road. About a month ago, while driving this route towards Georgia Avenue, I almost ran over a pedestrian who was using this crosswalk. I was on the right lane, and the pedestrian was coming from the left. The car to my left had stopped but I didn’t realize the reason why. I finally saw the pedestrian when she was almost directly in front of my car. Was I just not paying attention, or was there a design problem with this crosswalk (or both)?

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In the twenty minutes I observed this crosswalk, a total of of sixteen pedestrians crossed the road. I saw one car (traveling on the right lane towards Georgia Avenue) come to a fast halt to avoid hitting a pedestrian, just as I had done a month ago. The issue seems to be a lack of visibility for the driver on the right lane, when the pedestrian is coming from the left and there is also a car on the left lane that hides the pedestrian. Some solutions to address this include signage telling the driver to come to a stop several feet before the sidewalk, and reducing the speed limit from 30 to 25 miles per hour.

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One thing that surprised me was watching fully half of the pedestrians crossing the road illegally, sometimes only a few feet away from the crosswalk.

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Northgate Plaza is a strip mall in Aspen Hill, bordering Rockville and Silver Spring. The stretch of sidewalk along two rows of parking is a welcome surprise. I wonder why it’s so rare to find these pedestrian safety enhancements in parking lots.