Pedestrian Crosswalk Stings Are Back

by Aaron Kraut — April 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm 872 21 Comments

Crosswalk at Wisconsin Avenue and Stanford Street (file photo)A sting operation at an often disregarded Wisconsin Avenue crosswalk last week led to 24 citations for drivers who didn’t stop for an undercover cop posing as a pedestrian.

Next week, Montgomery County will launch a spring Street Smart campaign managed by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. Jeff Dunckel, Montgomery County’s pedestrian safety coordinator, said part of that initiative will include a new wave of the undercover police crosswalk stings.

The sting last week was set up for two hours at the notorious intersection of Stanford Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Drivers there must stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

But with no traffic signal on the six-lane road, pedestrians say that rarely happens.

Last June, police nabbed 22 drivers for failing to stop with a pedestrian in the crosswalk. Last April, as county officials and police began an aggressive spring pedestrian safety initiative, a motorist mowed down one of the pedestrian signs at the crosswalk.

Esther Bowring, a county government spokesperson, said police do regular enforcement of pedestrian safety laws. The effort that will begin next week is a more concentrated effort to raise awareness with more and more pedestrians taking advantage of warmer weather.

The decoy pedestrian police stings started last year.  Officials began putting the enforcement focus on drivers who were violating the law, not just pedestrians jaywalking or crossing without the walk signal.

  • HTTR

    Kudos to Dunckel’s team for doing this.

    The USPS/Trader Joe’s crossing on Wisconsin ave is pedestrian polo.

  • Concerned Pedestrian

    They should also do one for the crosswalk on Montgomery Avenue at East West HWY. Cars rarely even stop for pedestrians.

  • cbkcc1

    OMG and they STILL haven’t put of some kind of light as well? this is just goofy

    • Wendy

      They can have sting after sting but until they make structural changes to Wisconsin Avenue and make that crossing more visible with flashing lights or something, nothing will change. The police cannot be there all the time, and as the comments above indicate, there are many problematic crosswalks. And occasionally the police have other things to do. We have to change the culture so that cars drive more slowly and give pedestrians and cyclists the right of way.

  • LAK


  • DavidMaziuk

    the crosswalk is so dangerous. There should be at lease a flashing light to draw attention

    • http://www.xwalk.com Traffic Safety Corp.

      You’re right, crosswalk lighting is proven to reduce accident rates.

  • LAK

    What takes precedence, the crosswalk or the electronic signal if both are present? Does the pedestrian have the right of way even though the electronic walk signal says not to? I have seen people ignore the electronic signal. This needs to be made clear to pedestrians.

  • Xandersun

    This is what you get when you have a car culture based on NIMBY-ites opposed to things such as streetcars and trolley lines running through their neighborhoods. You push more cars into the streets, create traffic jams, and soon drivers are stressed trying to get from one place to another in a reasonable time. Add on that, with everyone in cars and hardly any pedestrians, people get less attuned to the latter and thus begins whole wretched deathspiral into obliviousness to pedestrian needs.

  • VeryConcernedCitizen

    I second that, fist bump, Dunckel`s team!

  • VoiceofReason

    I strongly recommend the book, “Traffic”


    In this brilliant, lively, and eye-opening investigation, Tom Vanderbilt examines the perceptual limits and cognitive underpinnings that make us worse drivers than we think we are. He demonstrates why plans to protect pedestrians from cars often lead to more accidents. He uncovers who is more likely to honk at whom, and why. He explains why traffic jams form, outlines the unintended consequences of our quest for safety, and even identifies the most common mistake drivers make in parking lots. Traffic is about more than driving: it’s about human nature. It will change the way we see ourselves and the world around us, and it may even make us better drivers.

    This guy concludes that more signage, more lights, etc., is simply a massive waste of time and offers other solutions.

    Enforcement, with seriously high fines for violators is one way, or even loss of license for 30 days will also get drivers’ attention.

  • Harv

    Does the pedestrian have to step into the street in the crosswalk to make the drivers stop, or will standing on the sidewalk looking tentatively across the street do?

  • Jim

    Sting is right. As someone who drove to work through DC, I always stop at crosswalks where pedestrians are standing. But seeing a cop just standing in the corsswalk at the curb is very disorienting, and they know it!

    • Frank

      Police are, by their nature, much more visible than pedestrians. Why would seeing a police officer at the start of a crosswalk be “disorienting”?

    • Guest

      In past stings (and I assume this one as well) it’s always been a plain clothes officer dressed in bright color clothes in order to give drivers every opportunity to follow the law.

  • Anna

    Police are among the worst offenders. On many occasions when I have stopped for pedestrians at that very intersection, the police cruisers have sailed on by. The scary thing is that when that happens – you stop but a car in the lane next to you doesn’t – you risk creating a situation that could result in the pedestrian being mowed down by the car that doesn’t stop or worse, passes you. (No good deed goes unpunished.) In fact, my dad had a friend who was killed when that happened. I often honk and wave my hand out the window in the hopes that others will stop. This embarrasses my teenage kids, but as pedestrians living in downtown Bethesda, I think they appreciate it. Pedestrian safety has always been one of my biggest worries for my kids!

  • Samantha Perry

    They definitely need to come to the intersection of Old Georgetown Road & Cordell Avenue!! #playingfroggy

  • Changing Blah-thesda

    Excellent. The more we can do to slow down cars, encourage cars and urbanize Bethesda the better off we will be. Unfortunately, Montgomery County Planning is dragging its feet. This article is worth reading. http://www.salon.com/2014/04/13/how_cars_conquered_the_american_city_and_how_we_can_win_it_back/

  • http://www.xwalk.com Traffic Safety Corp.

    Law enforcement helps boost pedestrian safety, but eventually the sting ends. What then?

    We ask that local decision makers consider installing our pedestrian safety solutions to improve safety on site, both day and night. For more info pleasr visit http://www.xwalk.com

  • http://www.xwalk.com Traffic Safety Corp.

    We advocate for pedestrian safety through innovative crosswalk lighting technology. Flashing in-roadway warning lights are proven to help.

  • http://crunchyprogressivemusicmama.blogspot.com/ Deb

    Will there also be stings and citations for pedestrians who sprint across the road between crosswalks?


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