A e-mail from College Park Council-member Stephanie Stullich highlights the safety concerns of the Paint Branch Parkway crossing for the Rhode Island hiker-biker trail. As frequent driver and biker of this area and as someone who spent the night in a hospital after a bicycle/car collision I can attest to the dangers of this crossing. Ms. Stullich points out a few ways we can help in her e-mail posted after the break.
Lets be careful out there.
Here is another interesting post on the subject from TheWashCycle
I want to alert you to a safety issue at the Paint Branch Parkway crossing for Rhode Island hiker-biker trail. There have been several accidents at this crossing in the past few months, that I know of, one involving a pedestrian who was struck by a car, another where a bicyclist was struck by a car, and a third (yesterday) where a car was struck from behind while stopped for a pedestrian.
[flickr size="small" float="right"]http://www.flickr.com/photos/heypaul/2027460/[/flickr]We have been asking for a pedestrian-called red light signal at this intersection for years. The County’s Department of Public Works and Transportation (DPWT) has refused this request because they say there are not sufficient numbers of pedestrians and bikers using the crossing to “warrant” a red light. In 2008, the county installed various safety measures at this crossing, including signage, a pedestrian “refuge” in the middle of the road, and a yellow signal that flashes when called by a pedestrian who wants to cross. These safety measures were installed thanks to strong pressure from Eric Olson, who fought hard for a red light but could not get the traffic engineers to agree, and at the time it seemed that these safety measures were better than nothing. However, in all three recent accidents, pedestrians used this system exactly as they were supposed to – pressing the call button, waiting for the yellow flashing list and waiting for cars to stop, and then crossing – but another car sped up to the intersection and struck either the pedestrian or biker or another stopped car. Some drivers simply do not perceive a yellow flashing light as a requirement to stop. I am very worried that we will have additional accidents there and that one eventually may be fatal, unless we are able to change this situation.
I need your help in three ways:
- When you use the crossing, please be extremely careful and do not assume drivers will stop. Please tell your family and friends to be careful as well.
- When driving on Paint Branch Parkway, please do not exceed the speed limit, and watch carefully when you approach this crossing and stop if there is a pedestrian trying to cross. I almost feel like this goes without saying in this community, but when we are driving we often are in a hurry, and it may be easy to miss noticing the yellow flashing light – at least, that is what the drivers in all three incidents have said was the case.
- If you have experienced or witnessed any accidents or near misses at this crossing, please send me an email with the details (date, day of the week, approximate time, and what happened, as best you can remember). As we continue to fight for a red light, it will help to be armed with as much information as possible about accidents and near-misses that have occurred at this crossing.
Placing a speed camera at this crossing would also help improve safety. Recent state legislation authorizes such cameras within a half-mile radius of schools, and this crossing qualifies because of proximity to the university. The law just became effective as of October 1, and Eric has made this crossing his top priority for a speed camera, so hopefully we will get that soon. However, I don’t think a speed camera alone will be sufficient. One reason is that the state authorizing legislation restricts operation of speed cameras to Monday through Friday from 6 am to 8 pm, and two of the three recent accidents occurred on a weekend when speed cameras would not be operating. A second reason is that even if a driver is going the speed limit, they still may not have enough time to stop if they assume a yellow light doesn’t mean anything until they get close enough to see a pedestrian who may be blocked visually by another stopped car. I believe we need both a speed camera and a red light at this intersection.
Thanks for your help with this.
College Park City Council – District 3