Local pedestrian show…

Interesting story in the Gazette last week about a Bethesda man, John Z. Westmore, who puts on a pedestrian themed TV show called “Perils to Pedestrians” that is now moving beyond local access cable to DISH Network.

John also has a website that points out all kinds of interesting facts about pedestrian hazards, to include things such as ideal placement for pedestrian overpasses, etc… Being a suburbanite, I can attest to the validity of the concerns he mentions for pedestrians. Our society, in large part, has been designed around the automobile and the use of the automobile as the primary means of transportation from one point to another. That said, it’s no surprise that we don’t have pedestrian friendly suburbs, and in some cases, pedestrian friendly cities.

Overall, I think that downtown Washington DC is pretty pedestrian friendly, though. Our outer suburbs, not so much so. Take Prince Georges County, for example; I would NEVER think of crossing Branch Avenue, especially down where we live in Brandywine, it’s just asking for a quick demise. Even in Fairfax County, I thought it was crazy for people to cross Franconia Road in Springfield or even Little River Turnpike or Route 123. In Prince Georges, even cycling has started to become a big concern. The Oxon Hill Bicycle and Trail Club has many great cycling routes identified on their website, but as developers start taking over more and more farmland here in southern Prince Georges County, the traffic has become a real concern and based on my observations (personal observations from driving the roads in our area), bicyclists should definitely fear for their lives. The drivers moving into the area like to drive VERY FAST on the small, two lane country roads and in the year or so since we’ve moved here, we’ve witnessed quite a few accidents on surrounding local roads and I would bet that almost all of them were attributable to excessive speed.

How about me, you might ask? Maybe I’m just an old man now, but I usually cruise along at about 5-10 mph over the 35mph speed limit, anything faster would be suicide with these winding roads and blind driveways. That said, I routinely get passed, even when driving in areas with a solid yellow line. Tsk, tsk…

2 Comments so far

  1. Bin_round (unregistered) on February 15th, 2006 @ 10:29 am

    With the increase in pedestrian accidents, there must be something done to help save lives. First, people need to slow down, esp. in the city – poor Mr. Atherton in Cleveland Park. That part of Connecticut Av should be strictly enforced for speeding b/c people do walk across the street – it is like little village.

    Second, in the ‘burbs, where more incidences of deaths have occurred, AND not to come across sounding ignorant or racist, my observation shows that the people running across busy streets are of Latin descent AND the names of the dead when reported about a pedestrian accident support this theory. Is part of the reason b/c these folks are pedestrian for the lack of a car? I think that is part of it.

    Also, the ‘burbs were never made pedestrian. Are footbridges the answer? Maybe but aestethically, they do not add to a very blah ‘burb landscape.

    Is this a cultural habit – I wondered after I noted people crossing major busy roads in Mexico City in the middle of the road, not a footbridge or crosswalk/intersection. I know it sounds stupid of me to suggest that only people of Latin descent jaywalk, b/c everyone does it from time to time. I am just saying that I have observed that the folks in my ‘hood who jaywalk and put their lives on the line are Latin and do not wear bright clothing often enough.

    Many times I have feared rounding that curve on the road and running into someone running across the road. What would be the best solution?

    BTW, no, you’re not an old man. You’ve learned that nothing can be so important that you have to drive so fast as to put people in harm’s way. Being 5 min. late for a meeting = a life of a (careless) pedestrian. No brainer.

  2. Don (unregistered) on February 15th, 2006 @ 1:55 pm

    Bin, there’s no doubt that pedestrian-unfriendly regions take the greatest toll on lower income folk, since those are the people who are either exclusively on foot or walking to public transportation who are most vulnerable. As a percentage those people are more likely to be latin or black, which likely accounts for your observations. The fact that they’re who you see jaywalking most may be a simple matter of their outnumbering non-latin pedestrians in your neighborhood, jaywalking or not.

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