Making our streets safe for pedestrians

Patch is reporting that, this morning, another pedestrian was struck by a car in East County, this time in downtown Silver Spring.

That makes at least five pedestrian accidents in East County in the past seven weeks, including four deaths.

On January 22, 54-year-old Georgina Afful-Asare was killed when a car drove onto the sidewalk where she was walking on Broadbirch Drive at about 6:15pm.

On February 7, 44-year-old Charles Oppong Aboagye was standing in the median of Route 29, waiting to cross, when he tripped and was killed by an oncoming car at about 10:30PM.

On February 11, 59-year-old Frank Sedwick was killed crossing Georgia Avenue at about 10:00PM.

On February 26, 53-year-old Marlyn Eres Ali was killed crossing Connecticut Ave between 7:00 and 8:00PM.

Here is a map of the incidents:

View 2013 Pedestrian Accidents in Montgomery County in a larger map

This is simply unacceptable. Ben Ross of Action Committee for Transit has called for police to aggressively ticket drivers who don’t stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and expressed dismay at MCPD’s reponse that the solution is for pedestrians to wear reflective clothing. Blogger Another Day in Wheaton called for increased ticketing for speeding violations.

We all have a role to play in keeping each other safe. The County DOT has some safety tips for drivers and pedestrians, here are some of the most important:


Be aware of your surroundings at all times. It may not be feasible for everyone to dress head to toe in reflective orange, but if you are wearing dark clothing at night, be aware that cars are less likely to see you and take extra precautions crossing busy streets. Cross at crosswalks, and on sections of the road that are well lit.


First and foremost, follow the traffic laws. Don’t speed, especially in residential areas. Stop for pedestrians, even if they aren’t crossing in a crosswalk. Be extra vigilant at night.


County and state agencies need to step up to make every corner of our County as safe as possible for pedestrians and vehicular traffic. The county’s Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration should install crosswalks with reflectors and other pedestrian safety enhancements, and every major road must have adequate street lighting. Montgomery County’s Police Department should aggressively ticket drivers who speed or fail to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks, and should focus these efforts in the areas of the county where there have been an unusual number of pedestrian accidents.

Of course, agencies have limited budgets, and all of these efforts cost money. As the council considers the county’s FY14 budget over the next couple of months, pedestrian safety is one of Council President Navarro’s highest priorities. Several weeks ago, our office began preparing a supplemental to the Capital budget to fund installation of streetlights on the darkest portions of New Hampshire Avenue. A year and a half ago, Council President Navarro announced, along with County Executive Leggett, a number of pedestrian safety improvements at Castle Boulevard, including relocating bus stops to safer locations and new traffic signs, pavement markings, and pedestrian “refuge islands.” Though they seem small, these kinds of improvements significantly lower the chances of a pedestrian accident.

If you think an intersection in the County is particularly dangerous for pedestrians, please contact our office so we can bring it to the attention of the proper agency.

Ken Silverman analyzes transportation, land use, economic development, and other issues for Council President Navarro.

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