Monday, May 21, 2018

Public meeting finally scheduled for CCT crossing on Little Falls Parkway

Can you see the cyclists crossing with all
of the poles, signs and headlights blocking your view?
Extremely dangerous
After excluding the public from the decision-making process for more than a year-and-a-half, Montgomery Parks will finally hold a public meeting regarding the future of the Capital Crescent Trail crossing at Little Falls Parkway on Wednesday, June 13, 2018 at 7:00 PM, at Somerset Elementary School, which is located at 5811 Warwick Place in Chevy Chase. The parks department arbitrarily installed a road diet on the parkway, which extends far beyond the crossing in both directions, in January 2017.

The road project was found to be an illegal use of funds, as a fund dedicated to maintaining trails countywide was utilized instead for a road diet project. Yet, the County Council has not condemned nor investigated the illegal expenditure. Once installed, confusion and traffic jams have resulted over the last 17 months. The bollards that now litter the closed lanes in each direction made the crossing less safe, by blocking drivers' views of pedestrians and cyclists crossing the road.

A kneejerk decision after a fatal accident at the crossing - in which the driver was found to be NOT at fault - was a purely political move in the County Council's War on Cars. The fact remains that vehicles, not trail users, have the right-of-way at this crossing; County officials should start enforcing those laws, instead of adding to the traffic congestion they've already caused countywide.

55 comments:

Baloney Concrete said...

The parks department is operated by the executive. One would think that position would be named at least once in a post such as this. But it’s just more of the same arglebargle about the Council.

Anonymous said...

The driver was found not at fault. However the problem was that he could not see the cyclist on the recumbent bike because the cars in the adjacent lane blocked his view. That's why traffic was reduced to one lane in each direction.

Anonymous said...

"which extends far beyond the crossing in both directions"

Because having one lane starting at the intersection of Arlington Road southbound, and at the intersection of Hillandale Road northbound, is a lot more efficient and safer than having merges right at the crossing.

Anonymous said...

"The road project was found to be an illegal use of funds"

By Bethesda basement blogger Robert Dyer, and absolutely no one else.

Anonymous said...

I often drive on Little Falls at the CCT crossing AND I use the trail at least twice a week. I haven’t found any problems described in the blog post. The narrowing of the road doesn’t cause any traffic issues. But I do wish that those recumbent bikes were illegal to use on public road and trails. They are dangerous. At the very least, require a bring flag to alert drivers and cyclists that they are there. I’m not surprised that we don’t hear about more fatalities with these types of bicycles.

Anonymous said...

@6:08 I thought the cyclist failed to stop at the stop sign?

Traffic is pretty bad there at rush hour. On Arlington Road, it backs up to the Safeway in evening rush since only the left lane can now make a left onto LF parkway.

Anonymous said...

I drive that road regularly at rush hour and I've never seen the southbound lanes of Arlington Road "backed up to the Safeway".

Anonymous said...

I drive this stretch both ways every day at rush hour(s), and this isn't really a big deal. What is a big deal is the lack of overhead lighting in the winter time. If its dark its very hard to see trail users. If they really want to do something, perhaps installing a street light or three would be the way to start.

Anonymous said...

Build a bridge.

Anonymous said...

Looks like you need to wash your windshield, Robbie.

Baloney Concrete said...

"The road project was found to be an illegal use of funds"

By who? The funds were taken from an account earmarked for trail improvements. This project was completed in an effort to improve safety for users of the trail. I don't see a problem.

Anonymous said...

Wonder if "Bob the Builder" Dyer will bring "Loftie" over from 7600 Wisconsin to the CCT to help him build this intersection? "Can we fix it... YES WE CAN!"

Anonymous said...

@6:08am: The driver could not see the cyclist because the bike was low to the ground, and the cyclist ran the stop sign. Traffic was reduced to one lane in each direction because we can't reasonably expect cyclists to obey traffic control devices and yield the right of way. The road diet slowed down traffic to less than 15 MPH so that drivers can stop when cyclists ignore the stop signs and dart from the sides of the road in pursuit of their PRs.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if a fairly simple solution would be to hold trail traffic until the traffic lights are red, then allow folks to cross when there are no cars there? No reason that peds/bikers should have automatic right of way; they can wait a minute or two for light cycle and/or push a button to speed things up.

Robert Dyer said...

7:51: You are absolutely correct about the lighting. And that is one more thing that adds to the problem with the poles - you can't detect the movement of shadowy people crossing in the dark as well with all of these poles and signs scattered across the road.

I haven't seen it backed up to Safeway yet, but it absolutely does back up on Arlington and the parkway during rush hour. There are always people "blocking the box" in the intersection because the "experts" who set this up - much like the new situation at Arlington & Bethesda Ave. - didn't bother to time the lights to accommodate the new pattern.

12:03: Cyclists should have license plates, and then be ticketed by stop sign cameras on the trail. Amazing how Big Government doesn't do that.

Anonymous said...

The other poster here, who says he travels that stretch all the time, is wrong or needs better glasses. The closed Lane has increased the backup significantly. It was a knee jerk like many government decisions and thus is totally screwed up. Typical of govt, cause it's not their money, more taxpayer dollars will be spent fixing the knee jerk solution that wasted who knows how much. Bad money after bad? Yep. Govt stock in trade.

Anonymous said...

Great point

Anonymous said...

How would a "stop sign camera" work?

Anonymous said...

How would a "stop sign camera" distinguish between bicycles and pedestrians?

Baloney Concrete said...

1:38: “No reason that peds/bikers should have automatic right of way”

Other than, you know, the law.

Dyer @ 1:43: Drivers who block the box are responsible for their own behavior. You’re not allowed to flout the law simply because you don’t like the decisions made by traffic engineers.

Also you haven’t addressed the question of who it was that “found” the expenditure to be illegal.

Robert Dyer said...

3:25: I'm the journalist who revealed the expenditure was illegal. No one asked where the money had magically come from, except me. This project was 100% a road project. You cannot use a countywide trail maintenance fund for a road project. Illegal.

I never said people "could" legally block the box - I said they are, contrary to assertions above that the road diet had not caused traffic backups. I don't believe traffic engineers were even in charge of this project. The MCDOT engineers I've spoken to off the record say they are frustrated with how politics overrides sound engineering on projects in the county.

3:14: Pedestrians aren't made of metal, and don't have license plates on the back of their pants.

2:51: If a cyclist didn't stop, the camera would take a picture and mail them a ticket.

Baloney Concrete said...

You did not “reveal the expenditure was illegal,” you only said so. I say it’s not illegal so I guess we cancel each other out!

Anonymous said...

3:25: Yes, of course the law, silly person, but that could be changed for this cross walk so that the traffic lights and a light at the trail could interact. You know, like a ped crossing at an intersection, duh. P.S. Isn't it annoying when people feel the need to post smart-aleck responses instead of having a civil discussion?

Anonymous said...

"a purely political move in the County Council's War on Cars"

You're the one politicizing this, Dyer. Do the world a favor and go play in traffic.

Anonymous said...

"Pedestrians aren't made of metal"

Actually speed and red-light cameras don't require that vehicles be made of metal, to operate. Otherwise we would not be able to use similar radar devices to measure the speeds of baseballs in flight.

That said, it would be a challenge to implement a camera that could capture stop sign violations by bicycles, given their extremely narrow profile facing towards such a camera, and also given the much lower variation in speed relative to a car stopping at a stop sign.

Anonymous said...

OMG. Lol at Robert thinking that traffic cameras are activated by metal objects.

Anonymous said...

@BaloneyConcrete: The law generally is that a pedestrian or cyclist may not leave a place of safety unless it is safe to do so. In the case of this particular intersection, cyclists have stop signs at the intersection. Stopping means the wheels of the vehicle (in this case, a bike) cease moving.

Robert Dyer said...

6:37: No one suggested using a traffic camera to ticket cyclists, dumbass.

6:08: "Do the world a favor" and punch yourself until you black out.

5:53: Is murder legal if you think is isn't? (Hint: NO) Using a trail fund for a road diet project is illegal.

Anonymous said...

Robert Dyer @ 12:43 PM: "Cyclists should have license plates, and then be ticketed by stop sign cameras on the trail. Amazing how Big Government doesn't do that."

Robert Dyer @ 7:00 PM: "No one suggested using a traffic camera to ticket cyclists, dumbass."

LOL

Robert Dyer said...

7:19: A stop sign camera isn't a traffic camera, idiot.

Anonymous said...

I would be all for more bike infrastructure if cyclists were more considerate of pedestrians. If cars disregarded red lights and crosswalks at the same rate that bikes do, I would be dead by now. I feel less safe crossing bike paths (with the traffic light and in a crosswalk) that I do crossing regular car lanes.

Anonymous said...

@3:55 AM:
And exactly how many people do cyclists kill/injure each year?

Baloney Concrete said...

“There are always people "blocking the box" in the intersection because the "experts" who set this up - much like the new situation at Arlington & Bethesda Ave. - didn't bother to time the lights to accommodate the new pattern.”

This causal relationship is false. People block the box because they’re bad drivers with no regard for the law or other people.

Baloney Concrete said...

5:56: If you’re going to blithely gloss over the main reason for something, don’t get upset about getting called out. Pedestrians and cyclists have the right of way for one simple reason: cars are large and can do lots of damage. Drivers should shoulder the burden of most of the responsibility. And before anyone jumps in with their straw man: Of course people shouldn’t “dart out” into traffic. But I, for one, think traffic calming at this intersection is completely warranted.

And I hate to break it to you, but you’re in the wrong place for “civil discussion.” Dyer sets the tone around here, calling his readers “idiots” and “dumbasses,” making the rest of us look positively genteel by comparison.

Robert Dyer said...

5:42: Cyclists do NOT have the right of way at this crossing. They have always been required to stop before crossing.

A guy calling me the R-word trying to make "idiot" sound like a terrible word - you just made a fool of yourself.

5:35: So why weren't they blocking the box here before the change, then? When design leads directly to moving violations, engineering is to blame.

5:21: Quite a few, even on the CCT, when they slam into pedestrians. They also blow red lights just as much as drivers do.

Anonymous said...

Robert, please explain why a stop sign camera is not a type of traffic camera.

Anonymous said...

This will eventually be a purple line crossing when its extended to Sangamore - build the bridge over LFP now for peds and add the tracks later.

Anonymous said...

It will be such a beautiful experience riding the extended Purple Line past the cherry blossoms in Kenwood in the spring, on the way to the Moses Memorial Mausoleum (MMM) station in Westbard.

Anonymous said...

@5:21AM: You probably know that the statistics are hard to come by, but is your argument that it's OK for cyclists to hit someone because the odds of a serious injury or fatality are lower? That's silly.

I was hit by a cyclist last year. I was in a crosswalk at the cycle track on 15th St NW. Southbound traffic had a red light. One southbound cyclist stopped. The other swerved around the stopped cyclist, ran the stale red light, and hit me. The cyclist tried to pick himself up and keep going. Secret Service held him until DC police got there. I got a couple of cracked ribs, a concussion, and a nice settlement from the insurance company that didn't really make up for my extended loss of mobility. And there was also the woman killed by a cyclist in NW last summer.

But since you asked for data, here's some: In 2012, the Census Bureau estimated that 0.8 percent of people in New York commuted by bike. Yet cyclists were responsible for nearly five percent of the injuries caused to pedestrians by vehicles (motor vehicles or bicycles) in 2012. In crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists, pedestrians were nearly 8 times more likely to sustain injuries than cyclists. So the numbers of pedestrian injuries are low, and pedestrian fatalities are rare, but injuries to pedestrians resulting from bike crashes occur at a higher rate than the size of the cycling population would suggest.

Stop perpetuating the myth that cyclist-pedestrian interactions are harmless. They usually are for the cyclist. They're usually not for the pedestrian. Pedestrian safety is more important that your kinetic energy. If your conditioning isn't good enough to stop and restart repeatedly, pick a different way to exercise.

Baloney Concrete said...

Dyer @ 5:42: "Cyclists do NOT have the right of way at this crossing."

WRONG, Mr. Dyer.

As of 10/1/17, Maryland law gives anyone on a nonmotorized vehicle -- be it a bicycle or a Big Wheel -- the right of way in a crosswalk.

Anonymous said...

@6:40pm: The change in law closed a loophole in the law that left cyclists who had established right of way in the crosswalk unprotected. The old law made no sense. The new law did not relieve pedestrians, cyclists, or other crosswalk users of their obligation to wait until it is safe to do so. A pedestrian or cyclist may not leave a place of safety unless it is safe to do so. Cyclists must also obey traffic control devices, such as stop signs, before entering a crosswalk. A cyclist who ignores stop signs is not just wrong, but may be dead wrong.

Baloney Concrete said...

6:48: I do not dispute that pedestrians and cyclists may not enter a crosswalk if it is not safe to do so. I said as much earlier. But the fact of the matter is that automobile drivers have the responsibility AND the legal obligation to yield the right of way.

Anonymous said...

You can bet that if 5:51 PM had a bike, he'd be roaring down the sidewalks at 40 MPH screaming "get outta my way, you miserable peasants!"

Anonymous said...

@7:31pm: You actually never said as much earlier. You suggested at 3:25pm that the right of pedestrians, cyclists, and other crosswalk users was absolute. That's simply not the case. A crosswalk user who steps or rides in front of a vehicle when that vehicle does not have a reasonable opportunity to stop will be held at fault. A crosswalk user who steps or rides into a roadway without looking will be held at fault. A crosswalk user who enters a crosswalk after failing to obey another traffic control device will be held at fault. Those are some of the situations in which pedestrians and bikers do not have the "automatic" right of way in a crosswalk.

@8:38pm: Nice try, but I do have a bike and don't ride on the sidewalk. I couldn't ride it all for a while though because of selfish cyclist who didn't think red lights were for him. You're probably one of those cyclists who dresses up in spandex and pretends to be Lance Armstrong while going to work everyday.

Baloney Concrete said...

1:03: I did say as much earlier. Please review my comment at 5:42 AM and stop looking for excuses to run over pedestrians and cyclists. Maryland law is clear about pedestrians and users of non motorized vehicles having the right of way at crosswalks. That’s the only part automobile operators should be concerned with. No need to place so much emphasis on caveats, exceptions, and edge cases.

Anonymous said...

@3:40am: Those aren't edge cases. They're the law. Pedestrians and cyclists are at fault for accidents more often than you'd think, and it's usually because they think their rights at crosswalks are absolute. Drivers do not bear most of the responsibility as you state. Here's what the police say, along with the parts of the law they say are most relevant: https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2016/10/police-return-deadly-intersection-education-campaign/slide/1/.

I drive less than 300 miles a month and am a pedestrian or a cyclist the rest of the time. I've never run anyone over and do not intend to.

Baloney Concrete said...

“Drivers do not bear most of the responsibility as you state.”

Yes, they absolutely do, and it’s unfathomable that any responsible driver would assert otherwise. Logic dictates that this does not absolve pedestrians and cyclists from responsibility as well (why do people get so hysterical about all these pedestrians supposedly darting into traffic all the time?); but cars are the most dangerous and therefore drivers have the most responsibility for keeping everyone safe.

If you’re operating a 2,000 pound machine, you need to accept that you have a responsibility to operate it safely. And if you approach a crosswalk and see another person, you shouldn’t sit there contemplating whether you can get away with killing them. Just SLOW DOWN.

Anonymous said...

I don't wear Spandex and unlike Lance Armstrong, both my nutz are intact.

Anonymous said...

@Baloney Concrete: That's not what the law says. Each party at an intersection or a crosswalk has separate legal obligations. Liability is not determined by the status of the party (pedestrian, cyclist, or motor vehicle operator). Liability is determined by the actions that each party took at the intersection. As the police said in the article linked above, "Everyone has a personal responsibility for their safety in using crosswalks." I think pedestrians are by and large careful. Cyclists -- and especially at this intersection -- seem to think they have a forcefield around them. The cyclist whose death caused this intersection to change was formally found to be at fault. His estate had to pay for the minor repairs to the vehicle that hit him. I can't even count the number of people who were surprised to get tickets at the hospital, because they assumed that vehicle drivers were responsible for their safety, regardless of what actions they took.

Also think carefully about the definition of darting. It's broader than someone stepping directly in front of a vehicle. A car traveling 25 MPH travels 85 feet during the time it takes for the driver to recognize a pedestrian ahead and bring the car to a complete stop. If a pedestrian crosses 30 feet in front of a car traveling 25 MPH, even in a crosswalk, it is very likely that the pedestrian will be found at fault.

Baloney Concrete said...

To borrow a phrase, let's be clear: The State Highway Administration says, "Motorists are required to yield right of way to a bicyclist operating lawfully in a crosswalk at a signalized intersection." No need to place all kinds of qualifiers and "but but but's" on what pedestrians and cyclists should or should not do. Obviously we all have obligations to act within the law, but the question here is whether motorists must yield the right of way at a crosswalk. The law requires that they do just that.

And let's be clear on one more thing: You are correct that the cyclist in question here was found at fault, but also keep in mind that the law has changed since then to strengthen protections for cyclists in crosswalks.

Anonymous said...

@ Baloney Concrete: You need to read the law more closely, as if your life depends on it, because it does. The passage you cite applies to signalized intersections. This is not a signalized intersection. You also conflate at with within. The words mean different things, particularly in this context. At a non-signalized intersection, a person who suddenly leaves a curb or other place of safety and walks, runs, or bikes in the path of a moving vehicle that is close that the driver cannot reasonably yield is not lawfully within the crosswalk.

There is no obligation for motorists to stop for a cyclist or pedestrian is waiting to enter the roadway. It's not that drivers are out to get pedestrians and cyclists, but if both the driver and trail user assume that they have the right of way as both are approaching an intersection, the car will win. A lot of trail users assume that cars have to stop for them before they have established a lawful presence in the crosswalk. Drivers assume that trail users will obey traffic control devices and wait until it is safe to enter the roadway. The driver is right on the law (this is clear from the plain text of the statute), and the driver will walk away from the collision, while the trail user most likely will not.

The change in the law would not have changed the finding of fault in the fatal accident at this intersection, because the cyclist ran the stop sign and entered the roadway in front of a vehicle that did not have sufficient time to stop.

Baloney Concrete said...

Indeed, and this is why I will step into the crosswalk to claim the right of way. Assuming I’ve given oncoming traffic reasonable opportunity to stop (and I always do), this is legal.

Slow down.

Anonymous said...

Yes, agree people can slow down. Gaithersburg's not going to go anywhere between 7:45 and 7:50.

Robert Dyer said...

9:32: A cyclist who blows through the stop sign into the crosswalk is not "operating lawfully in a crosswalk."

Anonymous said...

Robert, please explain why a stop sign camera is not a type of traffic camera.