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I applaud the county for taking the time to examine the history of this intersection and take measures that are designed address all the trail / auto collisions here instead of merely the most recent one. This solution has the added virtue of being easily revised / revisited if, in fact, it turns out to be ineffective.

The Ourisman story is kind of bizarre. It's pretty clear they were given permission when they shouldn't have, which is legally no defense for them. The high visibility of that location pretty much ensures that they'll have to take down the wall and do some shockingly expensive modifications to the structure.

re: cyclist found at fault

I'd like to see the full accident report with all the witness statements before I'd accept that verdict. Until then it could be the police just trying to defend their shoot from the hip rash assessment and bizarre press conference.

My understand of what has been reported is:
1) The cyclist was an elderly gentleman riding uphill on a three wheel recumbent cycle. I very much doubt he was going very fast - maybe as slow as walking/jogging speed.

2) The cyclist arrived at the intersection and a car in lane one slowed and yielded to the cyclist. Its common when two vehicles negotiate the right of way by sight for the vehicle being yielded to continue without fully stopping so as to minimize the delay to the yielding vehicle.

3) The vehicle that struck the cyclist was in lane 2. This vehicle, contrary to law, did not stop when approaching a vehicle in another lane which has stopped at a crosswalk.

I applaud the planned changes to parkway. They will lessen the changes of another fatality at this interaction.

Did the police check if the driver was on the phone? Why did he not stop as required by law?

For now I am inclined to take the police at their word. They did an investigation, not me. I don't know where the reports of a stopped car coupled with a passing car come from so I can't speak for the veracity. But I will say that Captain Didone comes off as something of a jerk and his comments. The emphatic nature of "without remotely stopping" is pretty aggressive.I have not heard that kind of tone used with drunk hit-and-run drivers involved in bicycle fatalities, so I'm not sure why it's used in this case.

In addition, It's not a good idea for the police to make any statement about fault before the investigation is complete, as it can cause them to try and confirm their statement. People don't like to find out they were wrong. Same reason they don't let sports casters predict the outcome of games they are calling.

From Bethesda magazine:
Didone explained there were no other vehicles in the vicinity at the time of the collision—and adamantly disputed earlier speculation that one driver had stopped to let Gaylin proceed while Rudelius continued through the crossing. He also said that while Gaylin had a flag on his recumbent cycle, the driver’s view of it was obstructed by a guard rail.

A car stopping in lane one was the most probable explanation for why the driver of the vehicle striking the cyclist in lane two did not see him as well as the most reliable source of the information that the cyclist did not stop.

The cyclist was about 90% across the intersection before being struck. That's a long time to be perfectly visible in the roadway and not be seen by the driver.

But sportscasters have no ability to impact the outcome, while police have the ability to impact the outcome of investigations.

From Bethesda Magazine 12/14/2016

Didone explained there were no other vehicles in the vicinity at the time of the collision—and adamantly disputed earlier speculation that one driver had stopped to let Gaylin proceed while Rudelius continued through the crossing. He also said that while Gaylin had a flag on his recumbent cycle, the driver’s view of it was obstructed by a guard rail.

The most probable cause for a driver in lane two not seeing a cyclist is because another vehicle had stopped in lane one. Its also the most reliable source for a witness to state the cyclist did not stop.

Since that wasn't the case why didn't the driver see the cyclist crossing? The cyclist was 90% across I think before being struck. That's plenty of time for an observant driver to at least see the cyclist before striking him.

Have I been blocked?

Sometimes comments don't post immediately, I think.

I'm inclined to take the official police conclusion at face value as well. Sometimes an accident is just that, although the real culprit is poor design.

Interesting that they're putting up signs that say "State Law stop for pedestrians and cyclists in crosswalks" when state law says no such thing, it only says stop for pedestrians. I consider myself something of a stickler, so I guess they're going to have to change the law now.

Jeffb, not blocked but for some reason your comments didn't get through. It was probably some word that was being used by spammers or something. Typepad has its own logic, and I'm not sure how it works.

I want to believe the police reports too. My reticence at taking police reports at face value is because there are too many cases in the last decade where a perfunctory police report absolved a motorist, but were contradicted by other evidence. There are several recent stories of MCPD not being very vigilant on pedestrian safety, and the presser at Little Falls Pkwy screamed "blame the victim." In that context, I'd like to see some more explanation of the basis for the conclusion.

The article I read in the CCCT newsletter was Montgomery County Parks put the Z-crossing in specifically to slow cyclists down. It does a 100% lane width shift not a 50% lane width shift shown in the AASHTO bike guide. A 100% lane width shift is exactly what a traffic calming chicane does. They made it into a traffic calming chicane.

Traffic calming for bicycling has a very small zone and quickly goes to trip destruction rather than calming. The chicane causes cyclist to suffer multiple conflict points, puts the cyclist down to non stable speeds and cognitively overloads some cyclists so they drop important traffic navigation attention.

I pointed out back in 1993 to Rachel Davis Newhouse of Montgomery County Parks that the original RR alignment through this area created just about the best and safest mid-block path crossing you could hope to have. They wanted to have people go up to Arlington Rd and use the crosswalk.

At that same meeting I plotted out the wide curb cut used at Bethesda Avenue to allow the whole width of the CCT to be connected to Bethesda Avenue. I see they have left out the curb cut at Bethesda Avenue in 2016. The exclusive railroad easement in this area is know as Parcel B and is part of the car dealer real estate. It extends about 10' west of the dividing fence and has to allow access use to the car dealer in that area. There is about 30' east of the fence that is truly exclusive and doesn't have to be shared with anybody else. The property is rail-banked and there should be large restriction on non railroad interests being able to trade for property rights.

At the 1993 public hearing on Little Falls Parkway crossing of the CCT, CCCT pleaded to keep the CCT in the R.O.W. which I didn't think was firm enough, but it worked, we got the RR alignment. I wanted to have wording to keep the CCT on the RR alignment, because there was enough RR real estate, about 90' width, that a lot of ugly trail detours were a possible. Well, it took 20 years, but Montgomery County Parks finally got to destroy the rail-trail presentation the CCCT had where Little Falls Parkway crossed over it and it has reduced CCT bicycle traffic.

I was always hoping, as a non-critical, but valuable improvement, to have the CCT path at a double track 22' width as Little Falls Parkway passed over it and have a big B&O Railroad & CCT combined logo facing Little Falls Traffic from the medium refuge area. This is still a good idea.

I don't think you could improve much on the original Little Falls Parkway crossing as far as safety goes.

Douglas Engle, CCCT board member 1989-2001 real estate and design

Great background, thanks. I recalled that the trail alignment was made that way to force cyclists to slow down, and I agree that the effect was not at all what the designed intended.

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