Bethesda Community Sought Traffic Light Where Pedestrian Was Struck

Residents wanted signal to help slow traffic


Published:

This image shows where the pedestrian was struck Tuesday.

Google Street View

Not far from where a pedestrian was struck Tuesday while crossing River Road in Bethesda, community members had wanted the state to install a traffic signal to slow traffic. The Maryland State Highway Administration turned down the request.

The pedestrian was hit while  crossing the road at the Capital Crescent Trail. The Fox 5 News website has dramatic dash cam video of the incident. In the video, a pickup in the left lane stopped for the pedestrian, a woman. A van passes the pickup, striking the woman.

“The pedestrian was able to get up and hobbled to the side of the road and was later taken to the hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries. The driver in this crash did stay on the scene and was charged in this accident,” according to the television station’s website.

Montgomery County police have not provided the name of the driver, the charges or the extent of the pedestrian’s injuries.

The Fox story pointed out the faded lane markings at the site of the incident. SHA spokeswoman Lora Rakowski wrote in an email Wednesday that agency engineers have placed a work order for new markings, which will be installed by the beginning of next week, weather permitting. River Road is a state-maintained thoroughfare.

The site is near a proposed senior housing project on land owned by the Washington Episcopal School. As the proposal worked its way through the Montgomery County Planning Department, residents had asked the developer to install a traffic signal at River Road and Landy Lane, just yards from the incident.

SHA denied the request because it was based on traffic forecasts, not the prevailing amount of traffic, according to a May 17 letter from the SHA’s district engineer, Brian W. Young, to Matthew Folden of the planning department.

The SHA sent a similar letter to Somerset Council Vice President Marnie Shaul on Aug. 26, citing a March signal warrant study.

“The conclusion of the study was that no signal warrants were met under existing conditions,” wrote Cedric Ward, SHA’s director of Office of Traffic and Safety. “Our examination of current volumes from Landy Lane also indicates that intersection traffic volumes are currently less than what we normally require for a safe and efficient signal operation.”

Rakowski said the agency views pedestrian safety as a top priority, putting engineering and education efforts into place, as well as working with law enforcement. Tuesday’s incident highlights the need for motorists to remain vigilant for pedestrians and bicyclists while driving. 

“Too often we see these incidents in which one driver stops as it should, and another does not,” she wrote. “When a driver sees a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk, it is usually because there is a pedestrian crossing. If you’re approaching in an adjacent lane, state law mandates that you stop.”

Although Rakowski allowed that the lane markings at the site of the incident had become faded, she wrote that crosswalk pavement markings are visible, and pedestrian crossing signs are clearly in place.

Traffic on River Road hasn’t been a big problem for the nearby Washington Episcopal School, because most students are dropped off, said Danny Fogelman, the head of the school. Only one student needs to cross River Road to get to school or go home, and that student is directed to use the Capital Crescent Trail bridge that crosses River Road, he said.

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