Montgomery County says a recent analysis of car collisions with pedestrians proves its pedestrian safety efforts are working, despite that data showing a bump in pedestrian collisions in 2012 and seven pedestrian fatalities already this year.
An analysis at the May 8 CountyStat review of County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative showed the most severe collisions involving either debilitating injury or death decreased by 20 percent in 2012 compared to 2011. But total pedestrian collisions increased from 399 in 2011 to 423 in 2012, a result of what the county says was an increase in collisions in private parking lots and garages.
Still, the seven pedestrian fatalities in the first quarter of this year have already surpassed the six pedestrian fatalities in all of of 2012. There were 11 pedestrian fatalities in 2011 and a high of 19 in 2008.
In December, the county said pedestrian collisions had decreased by 12 percent since 2009, when County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Initiative was first funded.
“In 2007, my Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlined a blueprint for reducing pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County, and I am gratified that the plan appears to be working,” Leggett said in a release. “Through engineering, education and enforcement, as well as a broad partnership between residents, County departments and agencies, and the State Highway Administration, the severity of collisions are trending downward, particularly in the areas that need the most help. Targeted interventions really can make a difference in reducing the number of pedestrians who are injured or killed.”
In Bethesda, a group of pedestrian activists and Bethesda Elementary School parents joined together to ask the county to lower speed limits, increase fines and install crossing signals that allow pedestrians an exclusive window to cross in school zones.
B-CC’s Presidential Scholar Talks About Alcoholism — Bayard Miller, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student who was recently named a Presidential Scholar, said he’s a recovering alcoholic. He wrote about his experience in one of the essays that earned him the honor. Teacher Tim Gilmore will accompany Miller to the event. [The Gazette]
Bethesda Elementary Parents Talk Pedestrian Safety — Pedestrian safety around Bethesda Elementary School (7600 Arlington Rd.) has been in the news recently, with a group of parents and pedestrian advocates urging the county to make major changes in school zones. Some of those parents, including the father of a baby who was hit in February while in a stroller, spoke about what they want to see. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Patch]
County Offering Free Deck Inspections — As part of Building Safety Month, Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services is offering free deck maintenance inspections through the end of May for single-family detached homes, three-story-or-less townhouses and duplex dwellings. To make a request, contact the county’s customer service center at 311 or 240-777-0311. [Montgomery County]
Concert To Benefit Bethesda Cares — On Saturday, the Westmoreland chancel choir will perform an all-Bach program with a reception and an art show to help raise money for homeless prevention nonprofit Bethesda Cares. The concert is set for 7 p.m. at the Westmoreland United Church of Christ (1 Westmoreland Circle). [h/t B-CC Regional Services Center]
Bethesda 2nd District Police Commander Capt. David Falcinelli said police arrested a suspect they believe is responsible for most of the rash of commercial office burglaries in downtown Bethesda and White Flint this year.
Falcinelli said police arrested the suspect on Thursday and he is believed to be responsible for similar burglaries in D.C.
The 2nd District has seen a huge spike in commercial burglaries through April of this year compared to the year-to-date numbers last year. In stats Falcinelli released on Thursday, police have reported 46 commercial office burglaries, compared to 18 during the same stretch of time in 2012.
Crime in all other listed categories — robbery, aggravated assault, residential burglary, theft from vehicles and stolen vehicles — are down compared to last year, though Falcinelli cautioned that the 2nd District has seen a spike in residential burglaries in May.
“Many of these burglaries are occurring during daytime hours and they are taking high-end jewelry. In at least one case, power has been cut to the house prior to making entry,” Falcinelli said.
Falcinelli also said a recent pedestrian safety campaign along Wisconsin Avenue and near Bethesda Elementary School on Arlington Road resulted in 175 citations for various violations. Police also ran a pedestrian crosswalk sting operation on Thursday on Democracy Boulevard in which they issued 56 citations to drivers who failed to stop for a plainclothes officers crossing a crosswalk.
There were eight pedestrian-vehicle collisions in April in the 2nd District, Falcinelli said. Police have determined the driver was at-fault in four of those incidents and the pedestrian was at-fault in three. The other one remains under investigation.
“Traffic is bad enough without further clogging up the roads with unnecessary collisions,” Falcinelli said. “Focus on your driving and walking. Be aware of your surroundings at all times.”
Chart via Montgomery County Police
The pedestrian enforcement sting, during which officers dressed in bright clothes and attempted to cross Democracy Boulevard in crosswalks, netted 77 total traffic citations. One person was arrested and charged with a drug offense.
The sting went on from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
It was the second day of the Department’s sting operations. On Wednesday, officers ran the sting in Aspen Hill and handed out 72 citations from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
The letter, issued by the Action Committee for Transit, Washington Area Bicycle Association, and a group of parents seeking traffic changes around Bethesda Elementary School, lists 10 steps for improving unsafe walking conditions the group says costs Montgomery residents millions of dollars a year.
Those steps include expanding school zones, establishing a maximum speed limit of 20 miles per hour during school hours in school zones, doubling fines for speeding in school zones, giving pedestrians an exclusive window to cross and prohibiting right turns on red during school hours.
The group cited the Dec. 11 pedestrian incident on River Road and the Feb. 27 collision near Bethesda Elementary (in which a baby in a stroller was struck by a car but not injured) as two countywide examples of why the changes should be made.
The letter was sent to Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Art Holmes.
Since the rash of reported pedestrian collisions in the first half of 2013, police have ratcheted up enforcement. Today, Montgomery County Police started a series of pedestrian enforcement “stings” that will continue throughout May. Between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. today, plain clothes police in bright clothing will cross a busy intersection in Aspen Hill in marked crosswalks, issuing citations to drivers that do not yield.
The mother of a pedestrian who was badly injured while crossing Rockville Pike on Friday night is urging anybody who might have witnessed the incident to come forward with information that could lead police to the driver.
Montgomery County Police say Michelle Eyre De Sam, 35, of the 9200 block of Cedar Lane was crossing Rockville Pike in the crosswalk at Cedar Lane when she was struck by a car at about 9:30 p.m. last Friday. The driver fled the scene, police said. A resident driving on Rockville Pike saw an unconscious De Sam in the roadway and called police.
De Sam is still in the intensive care unit at a local hospital with brain injuries, fractured bones in her face and shoulder injuries, her mother Carmen Todd said today.
“You don’t see someone and leave them in the road to die like a dog, you don’t even do that to a dog,” said Todd, who like Montgomery County Police is hoping anybody who witnessed the incident will step forward with information about the driver. “This is just unbelievable. But as soon as people can get away with it, they’ll continue to. They aren’t thinking about another person or a human being that may be dying.”
Todd said her daughter has been living in Bethesda for four years. Doctors told the family De Sam was improving yesterday. She can recognize family and friends but doesn’t have a clear idea of what happened or why she’s in the hospital, Todd said.
Officer Rebecca Innocenti, a police spokesperson, said police are looking for anybody who was around the area of Cedar Lane and Rockville Pike to call if they saw something suspicious. Police are also hoping for any tips, perhaps even a car at a local body shop that had damage to its front or sides.
Anybody with information can call 301-279-8000. Those who wish to remain anonymous may call Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477) or leave a Crime Solvers tip here. Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest and/or indictment in this felony crime.
Today is the first day of a 15-day enforcement program police hope will make a difference in pedestrian safety near Bethesda Elementary School.
An officer watched the pedestrian-heavy intersection of Edgemoor Lane and Arlington Road this morning from the parking lot of the Bethesda Library as kids walked to school and others walked to the Metro station.
Police are looking for drivers who fail to stop and yield before turning right on red. The intersection has attracted scrutiny since a February incident in which a baby in a stroller was dragged a few feet from the crosswalk by a car turning from Edgemoor Lane. The baby was uninjured and the driver was issued a citation.
Police will also focus on the area of Democracy Boulevard between Old Georgetown Road and Bells Mill Road, where pedestrians often cross to get to Walter Johnson High School and the county’s Davis Library.
Meanwhile, it appears one of the pedestrian crossing signs at Wisconsin Avenue and Stanford Street was mowed down by a car over the weekend.
Drivers rarely yield at the crosswalk that leads to the U.S. Post Office, even though signs indicate they must if a pedestrian is crossing. A Bethesda Urban Partnership crew picked up most of the flattened sign this morning, leaving a stump of metal in the sidewalk.
The incident happened shortly before 3 p.m. near the intersection of River Road and Dorsey Lane, where police are on the scene with the driver of a truck about the size of a U-Haul.
The pedestrian suffered bruising to her foot and a dislocated toenail, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue scanner reports.
The victim never lost consciousness, according to witnesses. She was being transported to Suburban Hospital.
Cookies By Design President Says Company Closed Bethesda Franchise — The president of recently shuttered Cookies By Design (4913 Cordell Ave.) said the Texas-based company revoked its franchise agreement and ordered it closed after a WUSA9 report on its mice infestation. [WUSA9]
Bethesda Elementary Parents Seeking Pedestrian Safety Changes Start Facebook Page — The group seeking No Turn On Red signs and speed cameras to protect pedestrians on Arlington Road started a “Share The Road Bethesda: page on Facebook after starting an online petition earlier this week. [Share the Road Bethesda via Facebook]
Police Say Carjacking Suspect Was High On Crystal Meth — Glenn Vincent Rhodes, 34, of an unconfirmed address attempted to carjack another vehicle after a police pursuit that took him and a passenger from the White Oak section of Silver Spring to the Loehmann’s Plaza Shopping Center in North Bethesda on Wednesday night. [Montgomery County Police]
MTA Wants Private Sector Help (And Funding) For Purple Line — The state’s transit agency recently issued a Request For Information to private companies to help build and pay for the roughly $2.1 billion light rail that would connect Bethesda to Chevy Chase, Silver Spring and College Park, among others, before terminating in New Carrollton. [Washington Post]
Flikcr photo by Nomadic Insight
After a recent series of high profile pedestrian accidents in Bethesda, Montgomery County Police in the 2nd District will conduct a pedestrian safety program targeting drivers who don’t obey traffic laws starting next week.
Bethesda Transportation Solutions shared the announcement from 2nd District Police Commander Capt. Dave Falcinelli via its Facebook page this afternoon:
The Street Smart Pedestrian Safety Initiative will occur between April 15-30.
Officers will be conducting enforcement of pedestrian laws at various intersections/crosswalks in the Bethesda area.
This is a comprehensive program targeting drivers, especially those that fail to stop and yield before turning right on red and those that fail to yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks.
Pedestrians and cyclists violating their rules of the road will also be stopped.
Please stay off the phone and pay attention to your driving, especially in the downtown areas.
The targeted enforcement comes a day after a group of Bethesda Elementary School parents began on online petition for more pedestrian safety efforts around the Arlington Road school. The parents started the petition because of a Feb. 27 incident in which a three-month old child in a stroller was hit and dragged from a crosswalk on Arlington Road. The child was not injured.
In March, two police-reported pedestrian collisions in the span of 26 hours left some transit advocates unsatisfied with the county’s initial response. Bethesda resident and Action Committee for Transit member Ben Ross said Montgomery County Police released pedestrian safety tips that seemed to blame the pedestrians instead of drivers who Ross said hadn’t obeyed traffic laws.
Parents of students at Bethesda Elementary School today started an online petition for pedestrian improvements in the area around the school, after a February incident in which a three-month old child in a stroller was hit and dragged from a crosswalk on Arlington Road.
Wendy Leibowitz said the parents started the petition because of that incident and a number of others along Arlington Road. The child in the stroller collision on Feb. 27 was not hurt after a car turning on to Arlington from Edgemoor Lane failed to yield.
It was one of three reported pedestrian-car collisions in Bethesda since February.
“As you know, there have been a series of accidents and near-accidents in downtown Bethesda along Arlington Road and some of us are concerned that the pedestrian crossings and speed limits are poorly marked,” Leibowitz said. “There are no speed cameras or enforcement of traffic rules and people drive very aggressively near Bethesda Elementary School.”
The petition has 27 supporters so far and asks the Montgomery County Council, Police Department and Department of Transportation for more “No Turn On Red” restrictions, more visible crosswalk markings, speed cameras on Arlington Road and police patrols when children are going to and leaving school.
Read the full petition after the jump.
Montgomery County Police today identified the pedestrian victim and the driver involved in a serious collision on Tuesday morning on a neighborhood street just off River Road.
Police say Alice Ann Winkler, 50, of the 5200 block of Saratoga Avenue was walking along Westport Road just east of Saratoga when she was struck by a 2012 Toyota Sienna turning onto Westport.
Police identified the driver as Pablo Martinez Varela, 51, also of the 5200 block of Saratoga Avenue. Varela remained on the scene and police said he provided information to investigators.
Winkler remains in serious condition in Baltimore’s Cowley Shock Trauma Center, where she was airlifted shortly after the accident took place at around 7:57 a.m. on Tuesday.
Police are looking for more details about the collision and are asking anyone who witnessed it to contact the Collision Reconstruction Unit at 240-773-6620.
It is the third pedestrian collision in two weeks in the Bethesda/Chevy Chase area, though the previous two happened at or near major intersections.
UPDATE 9:10 a.m. A pedestrian was struck just before 8 a.m. today in the 5200 block of Saratoga Avenue and is in serious condition, according to police.
A medevac helicopter landed near the Westbard Shopping Center to transport the adult female victim to the Baltimore Shock Trauma Center.
Police are on the scene and are starting their investigation at the corner of Saratoga Avenue and Westport Road, in a neighborhood just north of River Road. Both roads are closed.
Police say the vehicle involved stayed on scene.
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today said it’s up to drivers to obey the law and pedestrians to keep from getting distracted to prevent the type of pedestrian collisions the county has seen this week.
The issue has again come to the forefront after pedestrian collisions in Bethesda on back-to-back days this week and four collisions countywide.
The collision on Wednesday morning on Old Georgetown Road left a 59-year-old man in critical condition at Suburban Hospital. In the time between the incidents on Tuesday and Wednesday, pedestrian advocate and Action Committee for Transit member Ben Ross responded to a police list of safety tips by saying the county should put more focus on telling drivers to obey the law.
Ross said all three incidents on Tuesday morning, which included one in Montgomery Village and one in Gaithersburg, happened in areas where the pedestrians were legally crossing.
In his press release today, Leggett (D) made it clear the onus was on both pedestrians and drivers to avoid similar accidents:
The recent spate of pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County is a terrible tragedy. The County is committed to keeping pedestrians safe, and we have engaged in an aggressive program to reduce collisions through engineering efforts and enhanced enforcement and education that is having excellent results. But, we also need the public’s help to improve safety. We need drivers to obey the law, yield to pedestrians in crosswalks, slow down, pay attention and look out for pedestrians. We need drivers to eliminate distractions, put down their electronic devices and drive less aggressively. We need pedestrians to be vigilant, on guard and undistracted. They should use crosswalks, cross only with walk signals and never assume that drivers see them and will yield to them when they step into the road. We need everyone to be engaged to make sure that crossing the street is not a death defying act.
In December, Leggett and other Montgomery leaders celebrated the five-year anniversary of his Pedestrian Safety Initiative, which the county says has led to a 12 percent decrease in severe pedestrian collisions and a 21 percent decrease in the number of pedestrians incapacitated or killed since the program first received funding in 2009.
In another list of pedestrian safety tips that was part of today’s release, Leggett’s office were sure to urge drivers to obey the law and watch out for pedestrians:
Be aware of pedestrians and be prepared to stop.
· Don’t drive aggressively.
· Don’t drive distractedly – put away electronic devices while driving.
· Slow down and obey the posted speed limits.
· Be patient, especially when young children, seniors or persons with disabilities are present.
Pedestrians are urged to do their part because even doing everything right – crossing with a walk signal and in the crosswalk – is not enough to guarantee safety. In a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle, the pedestrian always loses. Pedestrians should:
· Remain vigilant when crossing the street, because it’s a “danger zone.”
· Cross the street at signals, marked crosswalks and intersections.
· Don’t step off the curb without looking left, right and then left again.
· Be alert for drivers who aren’t paying attention.
· Don’t count on drivers to see you or react in time.
· Get off the cell phone so you’re not distracted.
· Don’t talk to friends while crossing – stay focused on crossing safely.
· When crossing, pay attention and keep looking around for cars.
· Stay visible after dark and in bad weather.
· Use pedestrian pushbuttons – they give more walk time to pedestrians
Pedestrian safety is again a hot button issue in Bethesda, where two pedestrian collisions in the span of 26 hours have police pushing familiar safety tips and transit advocates urging police to put more of the focus on dangerous drivers.
On Tuesday afternoon, after a pedestrian collision that morning in Bethesda at Wisconsin Avenue and Chelsea Lane, Montgomery County Police put out a list of driver and pedestrian safety tips that advised people to stay alert.
Bethesda resident Ben Ross, who has frequently argued for more pedestrian-friendly intersections, said police should be telling drivers to be more careful in an Action Committee for Transit press release this morning:
…All three collisions occurred where the pedestrians had the right of way.
Yet county police responded with a press release entitled “Police Remind Pedestrians To Be Careful.” Nowhere did the police tell drivers to obey the law, which requires drivers to yield to pedestrians on sidewalks and in marked and unmarked crosswalks.
The Tuesday morning incident on Wisconsin Avenue was one of three in the county in a two-hour span. The pedestrian hit in that incident suffered non-life threatening injuries, police said.
Today at around 9:37 a.m., police say 59-year-old William George Cole was struck by a car in the far right lane of southbound Old Georgetown Road near Alta Vista Road. Cole is in serious condition and is undergoing treatment.