In Maryland, Marginalizing Pedestrians Under the Guise of Safety

Oh, the creative tactics cities, counties and states employ to make themselves dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. Today we have an especially ostentatious example.

There used to be a crosswalk here until Montgomery County decided it was "unsafe for pedestrians." Photo: ##http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/13291/is-this-pedestrian-safety-or-just-pedestrian-removal/## Greater Greater Washington##

Montgomery County, Maryland recently removed a heavily used, unsignalized crosswalk leading to its White Flint Metro station. Not only that, the county installed this lovely stone wall (right) to make sure pedestrians wouldn’t dare take the most direct route between the station and the offices of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, built across the street in 1988.

It was all in the name of pedestrian safety, said county officials. Except Ben Ross at Network blog Greater Greater Washington says that’s not the reason at all:

The only hazard to pedestrians in the crosswalk was that of drivers who violated the law by failing to yield. But this hazard exists at all crosswalks in the county; at crossings without traffic lights, drivers rarely yield to pedestrians.

In fact, the White Flint crosswalk was often full of people, so drivers obeyed the law and stopped more often than elsewhere. From the pedestrian’s point of view, this was likely one of the safest unsignalized crosswalks (given the amount of car traffic) in the county.

The White Flint crosswalk was not removed because it was in the best interests of the pedestrians, but rather, because it was in the best interest of the drivers. Throughout the county, MCDOT encourages drivers to violate the law by leaving crosswalks unmarked, even where there is heavy pedestrian traffic.

Sadly, this is not a unique situation. Another wall was built with a similar goal in mind at New Hampshire Avenue and University Boulevard. In both locations, MCDOT could have made it safer to cross the street by redesigning the road to slow traffic and ticketing drivers who failed to yield. But it appears that this is not the approach the department has embraced. Instead, pedestrians take a backseat to the county’s drivers.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Publicola shares a study finding that road tolls have little impact on the economic well-being of low-income people. Urban Milwaukee gives a simple primer on saving $4,200 in gas costs annually. And Jon Geeting chronicles Allentown, Pennsylvania’s livable streets squabble.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Maryland Cops Show How Pedestrian Safety Enforcement Should Be Done

|
So many times, “pedestrian stings” by law enforcement agencies end up just handing out a lot of tickets for jaywalking. But police in Montgomery County, Maryland, recently did pedestrian safety enforcement the right way: rather than target the victims of traffic violence, they targeted the only party capable of inflicting injury and death — drivers. […]

Awful Pedestrian Shaming Campaign Gets the Smackdown It Deserves

|
This PSA from Montgomery County, Maryland, has got to be one of the all-time worst examples of pedestrian shaming. The young girl with tire treads across her face, it’s implied, was struck and killed by a driver because she was “wearing black.” The message was the county’s response to two recent pedestrian fatalities. According to the county, police will […]

A (Quiet) Bike Renaissance in Rockville, Maryland

|
The DC suburb of Rockville, Maryland, is quietly becoming a bike-friendly city. Greater Greater Washington reports that Rockville advocates and the city have worked together for the last 15 years to expand bike infrastructure. The result: a 68-mile bike network, including 34 miles of separated bikeways, 33 miles of shared lanes, and a multi-use path […]

Suburban Maryland Calls Wider Roads “Pedestrian Improvements”

|
It’s one step forward, two steps back for transit and livability in the Washington region. Today, Greater Greater Washington reports that the highway lobby in Virginia is seeking to wrest control over transportation funding from the northern part of the state in order to shift transit and walkability spending to road projects. Meanwhile, it’s a […]