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Government spends lot of time and money trying to prevent crashes (sure it could be more). We lost two people in the same spot, in 6 months? The most cost effective way to save lives in Montgomery County this morning is to fix that intersection. SHA needs to fix it today. This morning.

personally, I think a multi-use bridge, like the Rock Creek Trail Bridge 1.1 miles NW of there, is what is needed.

We can't always build bridges for stuff like this--the cost will mean that too few get built.

We can't. But this is a case where we should.

It remains a tradeoff between lives and traffic efficiency.

I guess the State Highway Administration believes the aggregated 30 seconds or so of time saved by several thousand motorists each day by not installing a traffic signal outweighs the 1 or 2 lives a year that will be lost by people trying to cross.

Sad story. I do believe the overhead flashing lights have been installed at least in the westbound direction when I drove by. I think the real problems are: A. Road design and B. Overuse of these flashing yellow lights. I do think they improve overall safety, but obviously drivers don't perceive them as intended to change their behavior/alertness. Flashing red lights, perhaps? Rerouting the trail is an option... But I really don't think that's going to deter pedestrians.


Rather than bridges, why not have tougher laws regarding people in crosswalks? Bridges etc are not only costly, they give drivers the idea that they own the road and all peds/bikes etc need to cross at "their" designated paths. We can't build enough bridges and bike paths to keep all cyclists safe all the time.

Enforcement of crosswalk laws is also expensive - and imperfect. Bridges, on the other hand, have the advantage of making trail use faster.

We can't build enough bridges and bike paths to keep all cyclists safe all the time

True, but this is a 6 lane road with high speed traffic and a major bike trail - it seems like the kind of place where grade-separation makes sense. And I'll point to the two deaths (so far) and the concern of the County Police as proof.

Put in a traffic light

stopping the traffic would be more practical than building a bridge, but then traffic would have to stop! can't have that!

These bikers must not be checking to see if cars are coming before crossing the street. There are huge hills either way that give plenty of time to see if the coast is clear before proceeding into the street. Maybe more signs are needed warning bikers and pedestrians to stop and look before crossing and to stop and look again when reaching the median. Also it would some reasonable to lower the speed limit for cars, 45mph doesn't seem needed.

The access road on the west/south side is also an unsafe crossing as there is no painted crosswalk and coming from the Rock Creek side is a blind corner with tall trees and shrubs blocking the view. Drivers usually come down at the same speed as they do on Veirs Mill but with absolutely no pedestrian signage.

Jake, in last December's crash a driver stopped for the cyclist who began to cross, but then another driver broke the law and passed the stopped driver. It's difficult for a cyclist to see beyond a stopped car, especially in the dark as it was in December. I don't think we know enough about this crash to draw any conclusions about fault.

Oh okay. Thanks for that information. There is definitely a huge problem with how drivers handle crosswalks.

@KevA's observation is correct. The next collision/fatality will be on the access road directly west of this crossing. The Henson Trail crosses directly into path of oncoming vehicles at blind corner with no signage or warnings for cars or trail users. The entire design of this intersection is gross negligence by SHA. To end the slaughter, the present crossing should be closed and trail re-routed to the light 1/4 mile north at Parkland Drive, until a sane solution can be worked out.

SHA doesn't care. A hundred people could die each year and they wouldn't change a thing. These types of deadly roadscapes are a feature, not a bug.

SHA has exactly one mission, and that is to facilitate sprawl and car dependence. They are successfully accomplishing that mission, at the cost of many lives lost and ruined, and many communities paved over, divided, and isolated.

I'd rather they install HAWK signals at this crossing. There could be 2 sets, one for each way. HAWK signals would provide a red light to stop traffic, and since the crossing isn't very wide, they could use shortened times to stop traffic.

The crossing is at the bottom of a hill on both sides. No driver is going to stop in time unless there's a red light in front of them.

The WUSA story has some video showing that there have been yellow flashing lights installed above the road near the crossing (not shown in the Google Maps screen cap.)

The reporter mentions that several minutes after pushing the button the yellow flashers come on. That seems to be an odd design choice if that's true. I would have reasonably believe pushing the button would immediately activate the flashers. There's no sign saying otherwise.

It also reports that the driver in the previous case got off on a legal "quirk". The guy was riding, not walking, a bike in the crossing, so he was not protected by the law.

http://www.wusa9.com/news/local/neighbors-demand-fix-after-second-crosswalk-death/276190164

Part of the reason SHA hasn't taken the appropriate action may have to do with the planned Montrose Parkway alignment that is supposed to terminate at the top of the adjacent hill. Maybe they were thinking they could get away with ignoring this problem until improvements resulting from that project provided a solution.

A HAWK signal is not enough. This intersection demands a full traffic light. People are flying down that hill to try to make the next light.

Incidentally, i had the following exchange with MCPD in Facebook comments:

Me: Montgomery County Police Department, i'm not blaming you but you could step up speed enforcement here. There are a lot of violators.

MCPD: Please email the 4th District Commander at 4DCommander@montgomerycountymd.gov to express your concerns about additional speed enforcement for that area. Thank you.

Others may want to follow up as advised.

Roo_beav,
Thanks for the link. After reading the info, and hunting down the section of Maryland code that presumably applies, (21-1103b3, exception for riding in a crosswalk), it sounds as though the answer is just that Maryland perfectly allows striking any cyclist riding in a crosswalk. It is hard for me to imagine the language in 21-1103b3 could be any more clear, but I'm not a lawyer or a judge.

We should ask SHA to update their Bicycle Safety page to include this information and maybe ask why their interpretation is so clearly wrong: cycling through a crosswalk has no legal safety.

I suppose the judge and court docket is open information to get the legal opinion. Maybe that's a good next step.

Nobody is going to walk their bike on the crosswalk. So it's open season on cyclists?

Hold on a second. You can legally ride a bicycle across a crosswalk in a Maryland municipality that allows bike riding on sidewalks (such as Montgomery County). Maryland code is very clear on that, 21-1103b3:
"In a place where a person may ride a bicycle on a sidewalk or sidewalk area, a person may also ride a bicycle from the curb or edge of the roadway in or through a crosswalk to the opposite curb or edge of the roadway."
How do we find out if that was really a factor in the case?

How do we find out if that was really a factor in the case?

One could theorize that riding rather than walking across an intersection a cyclist has a diminished opportunity to observe approaching traffic.

It is common at many trail-road intersections for there to be a sign instructing cyclists to dismount.

But that sign is not posted at this crosswalk.

Reporter on WUSA9 piece states that judge said the case was dismissed because he was riding his bike in crosswalk, therefore not protected by the same laws as pedestrians.

If this is true, it appears to be a complete misunderstanding of the law.

The speed limit on this section of road is 45 MPH, which may be part of the problem. The hill is a lot steeper in person than it appears on a google image which does not aide in safety any. The new signals are up but I've never seen them actually activated and assumed it was because they were not turned on yet. This is the first I've heard it may be because of a delay. When I have encountered people trying to cross here before it's a classic where someone in one lane will try to stop, everyone behind them will honk then swerve into the other lane nearly hitting the pedestrian and often another car. A bridge won't work without taking out at least a couple of houses and this intersection would never 'warrant' a signal under current SHA guidelines. I think the easiest short term solution is to have the pedestrian be actually able to activate the flashing signal without a long delay. The old flashing lights there were smaller and on the side of the road but they did tend to grab the drivers attention when the pedestrians actually used them.

It seems that you CAN legally ride in a crosswalk, but that if you are hit its on you. Which is stupid

SJE: I think you have the correct read on what happened in the hearing. It's illogical, since other cars, in fact, stopped.

@ Chris Eatough

Ok - I interpreted "factor" as whether riding across versus walking might, in any way, contributed to the crash occurring.

I agree with you completely that I think the judge applied a too literal reading of the statue. The reason we have judges in the first place is because its impossible to write a law that covers all possibilities.

Since, as you pointed out, Maryland law allows a cyclist to use a crosswalk then said cyclist such be afforded the same protections as a pedestrian.

After the last fatality Montgomery police conducted a crosswalk sting operation. I think they found, not surprisingly, motorist compliance very low.

It would be an interesting side experiment to conduct the sting again but have the "pedestrian" be a police officer in full uniform with a marked cruiser parked nearby.

I bet the compliance rate goes way up - showing that, for many motorists, they know the law, know they should stop but don't give a damn.

Hi.

The cyclist killed Sunday has no family here. Donations are being collected to help send his body back to his family in Columbia.

https://www.gofundme.com/2f9kejg

I drive down this segment of Viers Mill every day and I agree that it is a terrible and dangerous crossing design. Even as a conscientious driver it's hard to see when pedestrians or bicyclists are trying to cross, especially going downhill at ~45mph. There should be HAWK at a minimum.

So haven't driven as a driver in this section much, but as a regular bike rider, it's rather confusing, as it's not clear when the yellow lights are blinking. It's a bit like playing frogger. The other part that is really bad about this crossing, is in directions there are telephone poles blocking the view of people standing at the cross walk. Great work MOCO and PEPCO.

Frank Towers was a Family Friend worked in our Family Business lived in my Sons house with several folks who also work here..
The Man who hit and Killed Frank was going at least 13MPH over the Speed limit...and came around another car and Hit and Killed Frank...He went to Court Last week and all charges were dropped!! evidently the Law protects Pedestrians but not Bicyclists....and yes MD DOT did make changes and it did not work!! so yes we need a traffic light with Lashing yellow and RED light the light at Connecticut Ave and Washington St after a Church goer was Killed years ago!!and the law needs to be changed

The difficulty with a stop light is that it would take 2 to 3 minutes for trail users to cross. In reality maybe 25% of trail users would obey the light.

The root of the problem is that that vast majority of drivers do not follow the rules. Rules need to enforced and rewritten so drivers can no longer get away with breaking rules, killing people and get away with it.

Just putting in a stop light will add new problems, passing more blame onto trail users. A bridge is needed.

Jeffb, great idea on the police running a sting both marked and unmarked. If there was more police present at intersections they would be more safe.

A bridge won't work without taking out at least a couple of houses

Looking at the area, that's clearly not accurate. There is room along the south side of Turkey Branch to build a ramp up to a bridge, and room along the north side of Edgebrook to build the other ramp.

If a full stop light goes it, it should be "No Right Turn on Red" on to Turkey Branch.

Backing the lines up farther away from the crossing was a good change. Trail users can see if a driver is actually stopping or not. Unfortunately not good enough in this case.

Also would be nice to actually see drivers ticketed for blocking crosswalks to teach us drivers that we are not above the law.

My name is Alyx Walker. I'm Frank Towers' 'adopted' sister, roommate, best friend. The judge wanted the driver to be put in jail for killing Frank, so it wasn't really an acquittal... the charges were dropped on the technicality. From what I understand from the prosecutor, the DA used the technicality in the traffic code that doesn't protect cyclists.

The prosecutor told me the day before they were hoping and expecting to have the driver receive a $500 fine, 3 points on his license, and 18 months in jail.

Either way, we need the law changed so it protects cyclists (and equestrians where applicable in Maryland). I'm grateful you guys are covering this because changes really need to be made. No one should have to be going through this loss again. It shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Why would it take 2-3 minutes for a red light, unless SHA decided to set it that way? Push the button, it goes yellow, then it goes red.

looks like the gofundme hit the goal and then some. They've stopped accepting donations.

Today they added electronic signs for motorists that flash "Yield to pedestrians and bicyclists" in English and Spanish

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