Friday, November 03, 2017

Double curbs tripping up Bethesda pedestrians (Photos)

New intersection curbs and ramps installed along Wisconsin Avenue were designed to improve safety and accessibility, but a particular double-curb design is instead sending pedestrians flying - and to the hospital. One senior citizen reports that she tripped on the double-curb outside True Food Kitchen, and suffered significant injuries. 

A waitress told the victim she has witnessed two other people trip on the curb, which creates a drop-off step from the grade of the main sidewalk, to a lower grade around the curb ramp. Once at Suburban Hospital, the pedestrian who fell encountered a younger woman who had fallen on a similar curb earlier that evening.

I inspected the sidewalk and double curb contraption at the intersection of Wisconsin and Woodmont Avenue/Leland Street outside True Food Kitchen. The sidewalk was recently completely reconstructed when the Solaire Bethesda apartment building replaced Eastham's Exxon on the site. It appears the double curb is supposed to provide a shorter transition of grades, but instead has created a new trip-and-fall danger. 

Walking among a crowd, being momentarily distracted, or navigating with poor (or no) eyesight, the design is a major injury hazard. In fact, the double curb on the north end of the block doesn't even have a yellow warning stripe!
The double curb at the north end of
the block doesn't even have a
warning stripe
There is not any textured warning surface that would alert cane users to an imminent drop, simply the drop itself. We've seen how dangerous that can be on subway platforms. In relative terms, the step down is fairly steep.
Extremely dangerous
The curb and ramp area was installed by the Maryland State Highway Administration, and is their responsibility, according to Montgomery County. It's clear some type of modification is warranted and urgent for any sidewalk with this design.
Several parallel curb designs in the
MDSHA Pedestrian Facilities Guidelines
manual; no guidelines are given to
prevent falls at double curbs


34 comments:

Anonymous said...

These are indeed terrible!!!! Hopefully you can actively help pursue some change now that you have helped to highlight the problem. What’s the next move?

Anonymous said...

"One senior citizen reports that she tripped on the double-curb outside True Food Kitchen, and suffered significant injuries.

"A waitress told the victim she has witnessed two other people trip on the curb, which creates a drop-off step from the grade of the main sidewalk, to a lower grade around the curb ramp. Once at Suburban Hospital, the pedestrian who fell encountered a younger woman who had fallen on a similar curb earlier that evening."

How many of these people did you actually talk to? Where was the "similar curb"?

Robert Dyer said...

5:31: I think SHA needs to be alerted to this problem, and certainly needs to come out and at least put some yellow paint on that northern curb. From personal experience, SHA works v e r y s l o w l y, sometimes taking more than a month to respond to my inquiries. So expose first, then work slowly through the SHA red tape. The more people who report it, the better.

5:40: Argle bargle.

Anonymous said...

I am 5:31 - can you repeat to SHA and let us know what they say?

Robert Dyer said...

5:54: Yes, I will.

Anonymous said...

I love it when Robert Dyer calls his own quotes "argle bargle".

Anna said...

Why won't you tell us where the similar curb is located? I don't think we have a corner of Argle and Bargle in Bethesda.

You'd be helping to warn people they need to pay attention there too.

Anonymous said...

I hope these curbs mess up some cyclists day. They are the people who Bethesda needs to focus on getting rid of.

Anonymous said...

I work at True Kitchen actually, when I go in at 3:00, I will find out if Robert actually spoke to someone. Someone from yesterday's shift will be there and they might be able to confirm his story.

Anonymous said...

The other curb is outside Jaleo & Gusto. These are incredibly awful pictures and provide no context at all that it is outside True Food.
The only picture that is at all helpful is buried after the architecture drawings half a dozen pictures later. Why couldn't you go in the morning, what is your obsession with taking pictures at 11 pm?

Anonymous said...

This is the type of journalism that has me coming back for more. My only critique, Robert, is that you didn't address the spooky curbs on Halloween. Somehow I can't help but think the new abortion clinic and Hans Riemer are behind all this. Please follow the money, Robert. You're hot on their trail.

Anna said...

Thanks, 6:16AM. Appreciate the answer.
Aren't those leveled sidewalk corners supposed to help funnel storm runoff and prevent ponding?
Is the solution worse than the problem itself? Nobody watches where they're going anymore.

Anonymous said...

The sidewalks were raised because the deads buried under them are trying to rise up.

Anonymous said...

As an architect who has designed many sidewalks, working with our civil engineers, I would say that these so called double curbs are usually created when no other grading design will work. Most projects in this area are located near sloping grade conditions. These designs are the result of trying to mitigate an unusual condition. I can assure you that if a simple single curb and handicappped ramps were possible, the solution would be much cheaper and it would be executed. The creation of double curbs can eliminate multiple steps, and awkwardly placed entrances, and the use of required handrails, that would be an even larger problem. It does create an unexpected tripping hazard, but sometimes this is the best solution available with a sloping site, especially at a corner with narrow walks. Sometimes you can’t avoid this situation.

Obviously if a developer was willing to setback the entrance at an intersection, you might have more room to solve grading problems, but with the cost of real estate and construction in this area, that idea seems unlikely. You can’t just avoid development at sloping sites.

Again, no credible architect or civil engineer would propose these if they were not the best solution. Yes, they are not ideal, but sometimes necessary. And of course they should be properly labeled with yellow paint.

Anonymous said...

"In relative terms, the step down is fairly steep."

No, it's not. It's barely half the height of the typical curb.

Anna said...

Thanks for the informative explanation, 7:05AM. Makes sense.

Anonymous said...

perhaps adding a handrail so that it will standout as a step (and provide a railing for those that might need it), is an affordable solution.

Robert Dyer said...

7:07: So that's why people are falling over it?

6:16: There are at least 3 photos clearly showing True Food Kitchen. Stop lying.

6:10: The County Council has already taken care of that by forcing cyclists out into the streets, by not requiring the tunnel to be built by the developer under Wisconsin Avenue.

Anonymous said...

"There is not any textured warning surface that would alert cane users to an imminent drop, simply the drop itself. We've seen how dangerous that can be on subway platforms."

The "detectable warning" surface is to indicate the transition between sidewalk and street (and the presence of those indicators is clearly shown in your photos), or the edge of a subway platform, not every single step one may encounter anywhere.

A visually impaired person using a cane can easily detect a step such as this one. And it's silly to compare a 2" step to falling off the edge of a subway platform.

Anonymous said...

"There are at least 3 photos clearly showing True Food Kitchen. Stop lying."

Which ones?

Anonymous said...

My elderly neighbor fell and broke her hip at a similar curb on the SW corner of Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue in front of TD Bank.

Anonymous said...

@6:16 Doesn't the weird curb at Jaleo have a ramp option also?

Anonymous said...

In response to the cyclist comment, even if that tunnel was built, none of them will use it. They all try and figure out how to be as prickish as possible when they ride around. Oh here is a tunnel that can let me not bother anyone, why would I use that, I am good cyclist and follow all the rules. Let me just move off the sidewalk onto the road whenevers it convenient and yell at anyone who tries to stop me. Look at me saving the environment while getting a workout, this makes me exempt from waiting at red lights...

Anonymous said...

9:04 is a fat old dude who gets out of breath walking from his house to his car, and blocks three lanes of traffic every time he makes a left turn.

Anonymous said...

Breaking Bethesda News: Old People Falling Down

Anonymous said...

9:04 AM, what does this have to do with the sidewalks. I agree that bikers are insufferable, but why did you bring this up?

Anonymous said...

Why are people hating on cyclists? I don't get how anyone could be mad at someone who is forgoing fossil fuels to get to work. I can tell you countless examples of cars and pedestrians doing stupid things to and you don't see me complaining about them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Robert. What did SHA say?

Anonymous said...

"Let me just move off the sidewalk onto the road whenevers it convenient and yell at anyone who tries to stop me."

You realize that cyclists are allowed to use all roadways other than expressways, don't you? If anything, cyclists' use of sidewalks is more controversial than using the roads. A sidewalk is not by definition a bike path and there is no legal requirement to use one instead of the adjacent roadway.

Anonymous said...

The time change is just one day and six hours away. Robert Dyer should use this opportunity to re-set his blog's time-stamps to the correct time zone. At 2:00 AM EDT Sunday morning (11:00 PM Saturday night Dyer Time), he should set the blog to "fall forward" 2 hours, so that will then show the correct time of 1:00 AM EST Sunday morning.

Anonymous said...

Nope, Dyer time > county time

Anonymous said...

Any update from your report into SHA?

Anonymous said...

They have these in downtown Little Rock Arkansas. In just one Saturday 5 people fell and hurt themselves badly and 1 required extensive hospitalization with torn meniscus etc..

Anonymous said...

Those five people in Arkansas must have been really retarded. Inbreeding, ya know.