Wednesday, November 22, 2006


For the love of God, SOMETHING needs to be done about the jaywalking epidemic in downtown Silver Spring. Now, I’m not talking about crossing Fenton when no cars are around – my complaint is those who behave like crossing major streets like Georgia and Colesville is an opportunity to play a real-life game of Frogger.

Some people apparently think that pedestrians “always have the right-of-way” and that they can walk across Colesville Rd. during the middle of rush hour and have the oncoming traffic screech to a halt to accommodate their leisurely jaunt to the opposite side of the street. To make things worse, they often do this at night and/or in the rain (while wearing black!). Sometimes they get in the middle of the road, see you coming, and second guess their decision to cross, but can't decide whether to go back or continue to the other side. In their indecision, they remain in the middle of the street scampering around like a squirrel.

My personal favorites are the people that for some reason wait to cross at a crosswalk until the cars get a green light, walking directly in front of them when they expect to start moving. I've missed lights because of these idiots.

Granted, I jaywalk all the time in that area, but I make damn sure no traffic is coming in either direction. These people will look, see you approaching them at 40MPH and then walk out right in front of you, expecting you to stop or merge into the next lane. Sometimes they don’t, and the results aren’t pretty. Not only do you risk your own life, you risk the life of drivers and their passengers. Provided they survive, they will likely be traumatized for life by the image of your body flying over the hood of their car.

I’ve never seen the county cops do a damn thing about jaywalkers, not that the county hasn’t recognized that something does need to be done. In 2002, in response to increased pedestrian deaths, they formed a “blue ribbon panel” on pedestrian safety. They found that for all pedestrian fatalities during the period of the study, 69% were not crossing in crosswalk. (Interestingly, part of this could be a cultural thing - more than half of the pedestrian fatalities were people born outside the U.S.)

Some of their recommendations:

• Special emphasis should be placed on "cluster areas" such as Central Business Districts (CBDs) and high collision "hot spot " locations by targeting them for increased pedestrian-traffic safety enforcement.

• Enforcement efforts should also focus on pedestrian compliance.

With a quarter of all pedestrian deaths in the county occurring in downtown Silver Spring, I think that preventing dangerous jaywalking should be a "point of emphasis" for the county cops around here. I've never heard of a pedestrian ever getting a ticket for jaywalking in Silver Spring. Heck, at least put up signs:

UPDATE: Just days after I posted this, there was another pedestrian struck in Silver Spring due to flagrant violation of pedestrain laws:

A 19-year-old Silver Spring man was hit early Sunday morning by a car, according to Montgomery County Police, who said the victim apparently ran into traffic.


Terry in Silver Spring said...

The jaywalking makes me crazy, too.

I live in Summit Hills and for some darn reason my fellow residents (and the postal workers who park in our complex and walk over to the post office on Second) seem to think they are safer and will save time by crossing 16th Street in the middle of the block between Spring and E-W Hwy. My God. The cars come roaring down that hill and have a restricted line of sight. I can't understand why folks think it's safer or why walking to the crosswalks at either light is such a burden.

I was hit a few years ago, in the crosswalk and with the light, when I was crossing 16th at E-W Hwy while walking home. Some of my friends try to use that as justification that the crosswalk is more dangerous than mid-block. You know who got me? An elderly man making a right turn on red without looking. I am lucky and eternally gratefully that he was sneaking around the corner, not driving at speed. I was bruised up and upset, but that's all.

In a contest of pedestrian versus vehicle, the vehicle ALWAYS wins. People walking need to stay when the drivers expect them to be. You can still get hit, but you greatly improve your odds.

Silver Springer said...

On the other hand -- I'm tired of people roaring down the smaller two lane roads and other side streets, going 60+ mph in some cases.

I can actually hear their engines pick up speed as they see me an others cross as to intentionally hit me.

There are no crosswalks in the midsections to try to get to your car if you parked it on the side road.

I would like to see some speed bumps put on some of these side streets like 13th and Blair Mill.

WashingtonGardener said...

The all-black at night is just pure stupidity.

The current situation is everyone for themselves and you do what you have to do to get across.

Rfustero said...

Jaywalking is not just a downtown SS problem- check out Langley Park, Wheaton, Aspen Hill and other places.

They are just ignorant people who think cars can stop on a dime- they add to their stupidity by wearing black.

The police have to enforce jaywalking laws or, the County should build some kind of retaining wall(bushes or brick) along the roads.

What I wonder about are those pedestrian accidents, in which the report states that the pedestrian was hit as he stepped of the curb-if you step off a curb and are hit by a car you must be blind or suicidal.

A couple of years ago, a women got run over by a street sweeper- these vehicles are very slow moving, yet the pedestrian manage to cut run over by one- explain that to me.

Silver Springer said...

Well...if we have to choose, I would rather see the county and state police allocate their resources towards craking down on violent crime and gang activity.

Sligo said...

Maybe if they put a Chipotle on Colesville or Georgia they'd notice the jaywalking...

Anonymous said...

Langley Park/University Blvd/Adelphi has got to be The Primo site for Latino kamakazee Death Wish pilots. They don't even LOOK B4 they hurl their bodies or baby strollers into oncoming traffic. They don't look both ways, they are always looking staight ahead. Silver Spring is mild compared to THAT area. I wonder how many have gotten their Wishes fullfiled?

Capt. Jack Sparrow said...

I am a cyclist, a pedestrian, and a driver, so I traverse the Silver Spring streets in three ways. Having seen different sides of the situation, I think the police need to start cracking down on jaywalkers/pedestrians.

Jaywalkers have forced me to slide my car to a stop on several occasions on E-W Hwy. between Colesville and Blair Mill (behind Giant/across from the NOAA buildings). There's a crosswalk there with a light that turns with the specific purpose of letting pedestrians safely cross when they have the walk sign. Problem is, they walk right out into the street when they have the "Don't walk" sign and cars are coming along at 35 m.p.h. They'll do it when cars (going west) are backed up at the light. So these jaywalkers will pick their way through the cars stuck in traffic going one direction... and then these idiots will just pop out into the street (because they can't see around the cars because they're jaywalking) when their walk sign is "Don't walk" and force the oncoming cars with a green light to either come squealing to a stop or change lanes to avoid them. And of course, the oncoming traffic has no idea pedestrians are hidden amongst the cars in traffic... about to jump out into the roadway, looking all offended that cars are about to run them over "in a crosswalk." It's unbelievable.

Because I drive on this section of road every day, I worry that one day when visibility is low, I'm going to maim or kill one of these jaywalkers.

One dark, rainy night I almost hit some jaywalkers by accident on Georgia (across from Snider's.) Two dark-skinned men wearing all black sauntered out into the middle of the road. I was going probably 25 or 30 m.p.h. and detected some sort of movement in the dark ahead of me. (Streetlights do not illuminate black clothing and dark skin.) I slammed on my brakes and the pedestrians didn't move. Didn't even turn their heads. I came to a screeching halt about eight feet from them. No cars were ahead of me, nor behind me (luckily.) These jaywalkers could have waited to cross, and could have crossed at a light. But no. These two men damn near gave me a heart attack.

I think that some people don't value life enough to cross the streets properly. I think they want to get hit... and if they live through it, they want to be able to point fingers and collect insurance money.

I love Silver Spring. Jaywalkers are my number one aggravation here.

Whirli said...

Well, when I worked at the building at Fenton and Cameron, I can't tell you how many times automobilists would ignore red lights and not pay a whit of concern about pedestrians who were legit and legallly crossing the street. Aggressive ss morning/evening commuter drivers are 10x worse and help to create the situation of risk-taking pedestrians.

Jeremy said...

You're driving and mad at the people jaywalking? OK, basically, you can eat a big fat one because it's the DRIVERS that are the problem. It's not our fault that there is zero open space and only one way from one way to get from one side of town to the other. Not to mention crosswalks that make you wait for 5 minutes at a time. I'm not sure if you noticed, but pedestrians have been around a lot longer than cars, so have a little respect. You do not own this town or this planet.

Sorry but you're the one behind the wheel of a two ton chunk of metal and I'm on my own two feet. It's your responsibility to make sure you don't hit me, period.

Next time you are thinking about complaining about something a pedestrian does when you are in your vehicle, remember that this planet is about to burn up and it's your fault.

Pat Erdenberger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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