Short-sighted bus stop placement puts pedestrians at risk
Too many bus stops are located far from the nearest crosswalk. Rather than walk long distances, many riders therefore cross dangerously in the middle of busy streets. The jurisdictions controlling the bus stops should either move them to safer intersections, or add new and better crosswalks.
This is a big problem throughout many parts of the region, but especially in suburban Prince George's County, and it is irresponsible to put transit users in such danger unnecessarily. A few examples from Suitland show the dangers of poor siting and design.
If pedestrians need to cross Silver Hill to access the Suitland Metro station, they have to walk back along a narrow sidewalk to Navy Day Drive and then cross. Even then, the crosswalk badly needs new paint. The faded lines can be particularly dangerous at night.
This bus stop should be on the south side of Navy Day Drive. That way, pedestrians would be able to cross immediately over to the Suitland Metro station. Buses could also take advantage of red lights to pick up or drop off passengers, rather than stopping in the middle of the block.
On the other side of Silver Hill Road, the Randall Road stop comes right before a turn lane off of Silver Hill. The crosswalk across the turn lane is not signalized and pedestrians have to cross a second signalized crosswalk to reach the Suitland Metro.
At Silver Hill and Suitland Road, the bus stop on the west side is in the middle of the block far from the crosswalk and adjacent to nothing. The stop would be more useful farther back on the north side of the intersection with Suitland Road.
On the east side of the road, the situation is the opposite. The bus stop is past Suitland Road, which forces pedestrians to walk back to the crosswalk. The stop should be on the south side of the Suitland Road intersection instead.
Some bus stops on Suitland Road are even more dangerous. There is no crosswalk for the bus stop on the south side of Suitland Road and Huron Avenue. Additionally, the sidewalk abruptly ends at the bus stop, so if pedestrians want to reach the stop from the other side of Suitland, they must risk crossing the street without a crosswalk.
Since Suitland Road's blocks are so long, it might not make sense to move this stop to a different intersection. At the very least, a new, high-visibility crosswalk across Suitland Road would make it safer for pedestrians.
The bus stop on the other side of Suitland however, would be better just east of Huron Ave. If a crosswalk is installed there, pedestrians could easily cross Suitland Road if they were coming from either direction.
Unsafe bus stops are common in other suburban communities, too. This bus stop on Old Keene Mill Road in Fairfax County has no sidewalk and no way to cross the 6-lane stretch of Old Keene Mill.
This bus stop on River Road in Montgomery County is along the shoulder. There is a small concrete pad on which to stand, but there is no protection for pedestrians walking to and from the stop, or for crossing River Road.
Much of the problem has to do with suburban street design, where pedestrian access has generally been an afterthought. Suburban blocks are longer than city blocks, and not all intersections have crosswalks or pedestrian walk signals.
But people in the suburbs do use buses and the stops should be convenient and safe, preferably at the intersection of 2 streets instead of the middle of a long block. Intersections should all have well marked crosswalks and sidewalks shouldn't abruptly end, particularly where there is poor access to another sidewalk.
Moving poorly placed bus stops or adding stops where needed, as well as adding crosswalks to some streets, would go a long way to help make suburban buses safer and more convenient to use.
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