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Pedestrians in Peril

by John Z Wetmore
Washington Post, Washington DC. Sunday, January 3, 1999. Outlook section page C08
Copyright 1999 John Z Wetmore

At 9:50 p.m., on Wednesday, Dec. 2, a pedestrian was struck and fatally injured at the corner of Bradley Boulevard and Goldsboro Road in Bethesda. The pedestrian was a 69-year-old woman who lived three houses down from me, and she was killed while returning to her home, less than 100 feet away.

This was an avoidable accident. Montgomery County and the State of Maryland systematically have failed to create a safe environment for pedestrians in this section of Bethesda.

The intersection of Bradley Boulevard and Goldsboro Road has no pedestrian signal. It has no marked crosswalk. It has no provisions for pedestrians whatsoever. The light on Bradley Boulevard will not even change to red unless a car is waiting on Goldsboro Road.

In 1996, Maryland actually made the intersection worse for pedestrians. Before that time, the intersection had an island in the middle on which I and my family and neighbors would take refuge as we crossed half the highway at a time. That island was removed when Goldsboro was repaved. I objected strongly then to the removal but to no avail.

For four decades, engineers have ignored pedestrians in the design of this intersection. These same engineers now are responsible for widening and redesigning intersections all over Montgomery County.

Could this elderly woman have walked down the long hill to the next traffic signal to cross? Although I think the idea of forcing her to take that long detour offensive, the option didn't exist anyway: The south side of Bradley Boulevard has no sidewalk.

Last year, a sidewalk finally was built along the north side of Bradley Boulevard past this intersection, but funds were lacking for a sidewalk on both sides of the road.

The county and the state seem unwilling to commit funds for pedestrian improvements or to design and build roadways that show the same consideration to pedestrians that is given to moving vehicles. Until that changes, I and my neighbors will be afraid for our lives every time we need to cross the street that runs in front of our homes.

-- John Z Wetmore

Copyright 1999 John Z Wetmore

Pedestrian sign from the
Manual of Traffic Signs,
by Richard C. Moeur

Updated October 07, 1999


Copyright 1998, 1999, and/or 2000


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