28 Lanes, 8.5 Minutes to Cross — Is This America’s Worst Intersection?

Earlier this month, two pedestrians were severely injured trying to cross Route 355 and Shady Grove Road in Rockville, Maryland. So Ben Ross at Greater Greater Washington went out to investigate.

It took Greater Greater Washington writer Ben Ross more than eight minutes to cross Route 355 and Shady Grove Road in Rockville, Maryland. Image: ##http://greatergreaterwashington.org/post/17341/8half-minutes-to-cross-the-street/## Greater Greater Washington##

It ended up being quite the adventure. Ross documented his attempt to cross this monstrosity on foot, and it took him a remarkable eight-and-a-half minutes:

There is no crosswalk across the south side of the intersection (because there’s a traffic light here, there’s no unmarked crosswalk). Therefore, I had to wait for the walk signal to cross the 9 lanes of Shady Grove Road. The wait was substantial, because this is a slow light; the signal cycle is 2½ minutes.

When I reached the next traffic island at D, I found a “beg button“—a button that you press to get a walk signal. Cars made left turns for a little while, the through lanes began to move, and I got my signal to proceed across the 8 lanes of Route 355. The walk and flashing don’t-walk phases, together, lasted 23 seconds.

I walk briskly, so I was able to finish the 104-foot crossing before the signal became a solid don’t-walk. But a slower, and strictly law-abiding, pedestrian would have had to stop in the median. There is no beg button in the median, so they would have had to wait—who knows how long—until another pedestrian came along who follows traffic rules so punctiliously that they bother to push beg buttons.

Having finally reached point E, I had to wait again for a walk signal. This time I had 10 lanes to cross, but here there is a long green that gives you plenty of time. Finally, I walked along the sidewalk from F to G, and after 8½ minutes I arrived at the southbound bus stop.

What do you think? Got any other contenders for America’s worst intersection? Send them our way.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Copenhagenize relays how the city’s conscientious snow removal efforts make winter bike commuting a low-stress affair. Streets.mn offers three ways to improve pedestrian safety without changing street design. And Urban Cincy reports that Cincinnati’s transit system has seen a 4.2 percent jump in ridership in part because of successful partnerships with local universities.

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