Last Saturday morning was a gorgeous one for exploring White Flint by foot. Thanks to the forty, or so, Friends who joined our Community Walking Tour to better understand pedestrian and bicyclist safety, and how smart infrastructure plays a big role in getting people out of their cars.
Particular thanks goes to former Governor Parris Glendening, now a leader with Smart Growth America, White Flint champion Councilmember Roger Berliner and Ramona Bell-Pearson from County Executive Leggett’s office. We all pitched in for a robust conversation as we walked around the block – a single block which creates about a mile-long walk.
One pedestrian safety hazard that exists in two spots on Old Georgetown Road are “slip lanes.” They’re the uncontrolled, at-speed right hand turns that give drivers little notice of pedestrians in their way. At both the intersection with Rockville Pike and with Executive Boulevard (pictured) pedestrians cross at their own risk because no signal light controls that lane of traffic. Although there’s a crosswalk, there is little other notice for drivers (who need not slow to make the turn) that pedestrians might be in their way.
At the new intersection of Grand Park Avenue and Old Georgetown Road, we crowded around the pole in the middle of the sidewalk and to talk about how the shapes and radii of corners can impact pedestrians. The wider and more curved a corner is, the less caution a driver will take when turning. This means they could be less aware of pedestrians.
There are several hardy souls in this photograph! First, the pedestrians walking along Rockville Pike have nothing separating them from traffic speeding by at 40 miles an hour. The same road, when it reaches downtown Bethesda, will have a speed limit of 25mph. Even though they’re probably safe up on the sidewalk, it’s the perception of safety and the unpleasantness of the walk that keeps people from doing it. Cars came past me fast enough that my sweater blew around. Also – hooray for the bicyclist on Rockville Pike!
Even in this photograph, one can sense how a little space between the pedestrians and the traffic can create a more pleasant pedestrian experience. Here, we’re walking south on the Pike and approaching the metro tunnel entrance at Marinelli.
Our last stop allowed for the most pleasant of the pedestrian experiences – a walk down Marinelli Drive buffered by both grass and a new bike lane. I think all of the participants could really feel the difference that those small additions made in walking down the street.
A last, but important, thanks to Pike Central Farmers Market for allowing us to gather on their site! Mitch Berliner and Debra Moser have really built a community staple in their first few years in White Flint and we’re looking forward to many more to come. In the meantime, the Market will be open every Saturday until the week before Thanksgiving so get there soon!