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SPEAK OUT: Pedestrian Safety in Bethesda

12 pedestrian and cyclist collisions have been reported in Montgomery County in 2013.

Just 10 weeks into 2013, Montgomery County Patch websites have reported 12 vehicle collisions involving pedestrians or bicyclists, and several of the collisions have happened in Bethesda.

Most recently, a pedestrian was critically injured on Old Georgetown Road Wednesday when he was struck by a car. Tuesday, a pedestrian was struck on Wisconsin Avenue and Chelsea lane, and Feb. 27, a stroller was struck in a crosswalk, dragged six feet and knocked over.

The baby's father said it was "pure luck" his three-month-old son was uninjured. In the east county, four pedestrians and one bicyclist have been killed.

Several readers are taking to Patch to discuss what should be done in Bethesda to keep pedestrians safe. Here's what a few of you had to say:

  • "Cars need to respect pedestrians, and pedestrians need to cross at crosswalks with the light. I run through Bethesda and always assume that drivers don't see me, or if they do, won't stop." -- David Heyman
  • "I've noticed since the the arrival of behemoth mini-vans, a mini-van mentality has emerged. I'm bigger, I'm better, I'm safer, so *I* have the right of way. Add texting and talking to that and you have one dangerous brew, not only in a mini-van but any vehicle." -- Steph Collins
  • "I live in Bethesda and am amazed at how often a pedestrian enters the street and/or crosses the street [without] looking at all - they are engrossed in reading their phones and completely unaware. It's very dangerous and with right turn on reds and not everyone being local and aware of the various nuances of our roads, what's one way, lanes with mandatory turns, everyone needs to be aware and careful. There's no comfort in having right of way if you are seriously injured, killed or do harm to others." -- Beth Esdian
  • "I'm upset by the previous two comments about pedestrians being more aware. I agree that pedestrians need to know their surroundings, but the simple fact is, it is the law to stop for the crosswalks if pedestrians are waiting to cross. I have stood for several minutes trying to cross the street, pushing a stroller and waving my arms. I frequently am half way across and drivers still don't stop. Drivers need to be aware of where crosswalks are and slow down as they approach. And there needs to be consequences for those who don't stop." -- Suzanne

What do you think? How can Bethesda's streets be made safer for pedestrians and cyclists? Tell us in the comments.

Howard Underwood March 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Police need to enforce the laws... pedestrians have the right of way in cross walks and speed limits on Montgomery Ave by the daycares
More Buses, No Purple Line. March 14, 2013 at 01:51 PM
You think this is bad? Just wait until all the apartments get built. The amount of traffic and people will be much much worse.
gavrilo March 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
That's not true. Actually higher density generally increases safety for pedestrians. Lower density encourages higher speed driving, and more driving, which is less safe.
gavrilo March 15, 2013 at 03:19 PM
And on Wisconsin.
gavrilo March 15, 2013 at 03:22 PM
Pedestrians and bicyclists have as much of a right to safely use transportation infrastructure as anyone in a car. The law requiring drivers to stop for pedestrians are just as valid and in need of enforcement as laws about speeding or drunk driving.
jag March 15, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Is this a joke? You understand the county's traffic issues stem directly from people living in far-flung areas of the county INSTEAD of in the core (e.g. the apartment buildings you're whining about). You're complaining about the solution instead of the problem.
jag March 15, 2013 at 03:31 PM
And you're against the Purple Line - another solution to the problem. That's impressive.
Sally March 15, 2013 at 03:35 PM
I think by having better speed controls on Arlington Road and the Commercial section on Wisconsin Ave and Old Georgetown Road would help a lot towards ped safety
Lisa March 15, 2013 at 07:03 PM
I live downtown and both are at fault. One of the things that really gets me is turning vehicles. In general if you are making a turn on a green light you have to yield to pedestrians. I have had drivers yell and me when it was clearly my right of way. On the flip side, there are just as many pedestrians that cross against the light, just asking for trouble. Since I am a pedestrian probably as much as I drive I always follow the laws on both sides, because I know how the other person feels. I think its people that only or mostly drive, or only or mostly walk and don't own a car that have a communication issue!
Robert Smythe March 17, 2013 at 09:22 PM
Re Gravilo's comment: I am both a pedestrian and bicyle user in downtown Bethesda. I agree that more enforcement is needed to protect pedestrians; I also think that more enforcement is needed to make bicycle riders yield to pedestrians. The sidewalks are NOT appropriate places for bicyles unless they are being walked. Too often I have seen bicyclists zooming by, switching from sidewalk to street as it suits them, barely missing pedestrians whom they overtake and pass with almost no clearance. Let's get these folks to obey the laws and use common sense, also.
nasibah March 19, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Usually mixed use works but in Bethesda they are building "Luxury" Apartments and Condos. Where do the people who work in our schools, stores and small businesses live? Can they afford Bethesda or are they forced to commute in? So…. I actually agree with this comment. (I could not afford my 1/2 acre lot & home today in 20817 and, I own a bushiness in Bethesda.) Many primary roads inside the Beltway in Bethesda have no sidewalk or curb…Fernwood, Bradley, Wilson and Greentreen (yes I know Greentreen is about to get one the STOPs at Fernwood). Pedestrians are forced into the streets with cars/buses.
DT March 20, 2013 at 01:48 PM
People do not seem to understand the law. The law does not require a car to stop for a pedestrian waiting at a crosswalk. The law requires a car to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk. The law also requires pedestrians to look before they engage the crosswalk. Pedestrians have a responsibility by law to make sure they do not just step in front of a car that does not have enough time to stop for them. Also, in an accident, a pedestrian will be held responsible in they were not crossing in a crosswalk, crossed against the light or when crosswalk sign indicated they were not to go. http://www6.montgomerycountymd.gov/content/DOT/dir/pedsafety/documents/md_ped_law.pdf
Gigi Lapierre March 23, 2013 at 03:21 AM
River Road and Greenway/Willard desperately needs a red light camera - cars speed through the light every day; kids and adults cross to get to school and work. I've written to our reps and they basically told me that they need to show cost vs. benefit - they're waiting for an accident - before they can get a red light camera.
nasibah April 15, 2013 at 02:22 PM
The law is actually a little more than your brochure says... Maryland law recognizes an “implied crosswalk” at the natural corners of streets, where the sidewalk can be imagined to continue across the street to the other side. Drivers of automobiles in Maryland are required by law to stop for pedestrian traffic at all designated and implied crosswalks. Just this morning my child was crossing and implied crosswalk to go to his waiting school bus, with stop sign extended, and the Fernwood/Bradley traffic would not stop while I was IN the roadway....

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