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.