Greater Greater Washington

Montgomery police ticket pedestrians obeying the law

Montgomery County police are finally paying attention to the needs of pedestrians. But officers on the beat don't seem to have gotten the message yet. Pedestrians have even been ticketed for crossing the street in a legal manner.


Photo by Kate Mereand-Sinha on Flickr.

In May, the county's police department held their first "sting" targeting drivers who don't stop at crosswalks. Just last week, when a student was hit by a fast-moving driver while crossing Veirs Mill Road, the police told TV stations that mid-block crossings are allowed at that location. This is a sharp reversal from the past, when the police would sometimes say a collision occurred outside a crosswalk without explaining that it's legal to cross there.

But last week, a GGW reader in Bethesda spoke with an officer who was ticketing drivers making a forbidden turn into a residential neighborhood, but ignoring speeding violations on a street where many walk. Roads are made for cars, not pedestrians, she was told. The officer said that those on foot have a claim to safety in crosswalks only when drivers are kept away by red lights.

And earlier this month in Silver Spring, another GGW reader saw officers ticket pedestrians who were obeying the law. They were crossing Georgia Avenue mid-block between two intersections that don't have traffic lights. This is perfectly legal, as long as the pedestrian yields the right of way to oncoming cars. The same officers ignored genuine violations by drivers, who failed repeatedly to stop for people walking in the adjacent unmarked crosswalks.

The Georgia Avenue sting took place on August 13 between Fenwick Lane and Planning Place. Neither of these intersections has a stoplight. Under Maryland law, unmarked crosswalks exist at both intersections, but motorists seem unaware of that fact. When drivers don't know these crosswalks exist, and police don't try to educate the drivers, there's little reason for pedestrians to use them.


Green lines indicate marked crosswalks. Blue lines are unmarked crosswalks. The orange line is where ticketed pedestrians were crossing.

The distance between the nearest signalized intersections, located at Cameron Street and Spring Street, is 849 feet. The walk from halfway between the traffic lights to the signal and back takes 4 minutes. That is a lot of time to add to a short trip; traffic engineers consider an intersection "failing" when drivers are delayed by 80 seconds. Georgia Avenue is lined with offices, apartments, restaurants, and shops, so many pedestrians take the most direct route, as is their legal right.

What's the law?

Maryland law is very clear about where pedestrians can and cannot cross. And the Silver Spring sting occurred where it is legal to cross.

First, let's look at how crosswalks are defined in Maryland. The Maryland Transportation Code section 21-101 includes definitions for the terms relevant to transport. A crosswalk is defined as

that part of a roadway that is:
  1. Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of sidewalks at any place where 2 or more roadways of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway;
  2. Within the prolongation or connection of the lateral lines of a bicycle way where a bicycle way and a roadway of any type meet or join, measured from the curbs or, in the absence of curbs, from the edges of the roadway; or
  3. Distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by lines or other markings.
While the third point may seem obvious, the first point is important to note. Any place where a street with sidewalks intersects another street, those sidewalks "extend" across the intersection, whether or not the department of transportation has put paint down.

And while it's not directly relevant to this discussion, Maryland law also defines "sidewalk." It doesn't have to be a paved area. Even when a traditional concrete sidewalk is not present, crosswalks still exist at every intersection.

But pedestrians aren't required to cross only at crosswalks, either. Section 21-503 explains what their rights are:

  1. In general.If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at any point other than in a marked crosswalk or in an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  2. Where special pedestrian crossing provided.If a pedestrian crosses a roadway at a point where a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing is provided, the pedestrian shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle approaching on the roadway.
  3. Between adjacent intersections.Between adjacent intersections at which a traffic control signal is in operation, a pedestrian may cross a roadway only in a marked crosswalk.
  4. Crossing intersection diagonally.A pedestrian may not cross a roadway intersection diagonally unless authorized by a traffic control device for crossing movements. If authorized to cross diagonally, a pedestrian may cross only in accordance with the traffic control device.
Let's break this down. Pedestrians are allowed to cross at places other than crosswalks in certain circumstances. When crossing outside of a marked or unmarked crosswalk, pedestrians must yield the right-of-way to motorists.

Paragraph C is also important. It's illegal for pedestrians to cross a street when both adjacent intersections are signalized. Otherwise, it's okay to cross, so long as you yield to drivers.

The stretch of Georgia Avenue where Montgomery County police ticketed pedestrians does have two stoplights, at Cameron Street and Spring Street. But between them are two intersections without signals, at Fenwick Lane and Planning Place. That means this stretch is broken into 3 blocks, and it is perfectly legal to cross any any point in this stretch.

As a counter-example, take the block of Georgia between Ellsworth Drive and Colesville Road, in front of the Discovery Channel headquarters. Both of those intersections are signalized, and there are no intermediate intersections. Therefore, it is illegal to cross mid-block there.

Law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks

There are a few other laws that are noteworthy. Under section 21-502(c), it is illegal for any motorist to pass a driver stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross.

Section 21-502(a)(2) deals with when drivers must yield. In Maryland, waiting on the sidewalk is not enough. A pedestrian does not assert his or her right to cross until they step off the curb into the crosswalk. However, once the pedestrian steps into the crosswalk, they have the right-of-way on that half of the street, and they gain it on the other half when they step into the adjacent lane.

That means that if I'm crossing Georgia Avenue from west to east in a crosswalk, once I step into the southbound parking lane, the two southbound lanes must yield. Once I step into the leftmost southbound lane, northbound traffic must yield. I've found that a handy way to remind drivers to stop without endangering myself, when I'm walking to the grocery store, is to reach forward and wave my shopping bag in the next lane, but wait until the car begins to slow before I walk in front of it.

However, section 21-502(b) does make it illegal for a pedestrian to step out in front of a vehicle whose driver would not have time to stop. So although you ordinarily have the right-of-way at marked and unmarked crosswalks, you must let drivers pass first if they are too close to stop.

These laws set the basic framework for walkers, cyclists, and motorists to share Maryland roadways. With diligent and even-handed enforcement, we can have safer streets and more livable neighborhoods.

Ben Ross was president of the Action Committee for Transit for 15 years. His new book about the politics of urbanism and transit, Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of American Urbanism, is published by Oxford University Press. 

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I know I'll likely get slammed for saying this, but crossing in the middle of the block isn't very smart - even if it's legal.

It's called self-preservation. Just because the law says it's OK, doesn't necessarily mean it's the safe and sensible thing to do. I would never want my dying words to be "But it was legal for me for cross the street here!".

by ceefer66 on Aug 30, 2013 10:53 am • linkreport

Not defending the police, who do appear to be confused about the law. But yeah, there's a big difference between legal and safe. And all that said, that law needs to be better written. I'm not clear on whether any curb cut (driveway) counts as an intersection. It appears maybe not, but I wouldn't want to bank on that as either a driver or a pedestrian.

by Landru on Aug 30, 2013 11:04 am • linkreport

@ceefer

Agreed it's not safe. Hopefully, through better enforcement of the law and other tactics we can make legal crossings safe.

by Falls Church on Aug 30, 2013 11:07 am • linkreport

@ceefer

No, not agreed it's not safe. I live near that crossing, and crossing mid-block can be as safe or safer than crossing at either of the adjacent unmarked crosswalks. The unmarked crosswalks give no protection since hardly any motorists recognize or respect them as crosswalks. At mid-block, you do not have to deal with turning traffic as well as the through traffic.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Aug 30, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

I understand what the officer meant. That to prevent potential accidents, pedestrians should surrender their legal rights in favor of larger, more dangerous motor vehicles.

It's still an incorrect formulation and one that misstates what the law says. The onus for preventing accidents in a crosswalk by law rests on the driver, not the pedestrian. The fact that this seems to be a problem on Arlington Road indicates that the road design is outdated, and should include traffic calming measures so that drivers are not induced to drive at speeds that are unsafe for the high volume of pedestrians that now populate this part of Bethesda.

by Crickey7 on Aug 30, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

Both living and working within half a mile of here, I cross this section of street multiple times on a daily basis. Traffic is generally never that heavy on Georgia Avenue, even during rush hour, because of how the State times the signals in the area. The State purposefully makes the singla at Spring and Georgia short on Georgia Ave time to create breaks in traffic that work their way through the rest of DT SS, giving ample safe time to cross at any of the 3 unmarked crosswalks (and mid block too, though that's not condoned) at all times of day. This is not unusual for MD SHA, they often use traffic signals on the outer edges of more urban/commercial/activity center areas to create backups of traffic outside of the activity center, allowing traffic and pedestrians the ability to circulate within the activity center.

I heard about the sting in my office as a couple of coworkers were hit and a couple more narrowly avoided being hit when they were warned. The biggest issue I have as a pedestrian in this area is drivers illegally turning right on red, and drivers who see their green arrow as taking priority over my white walk signal. Traffic on Spring Street during rush hour is often as heavy as traffic on Georgia, as Spring acts as a mini bypass for cars trying to get between 16th street and Colesville Rd. Spring is riddled with marked and unmarked crosswalks, and a couple of marked mid-block crossings with "drivers must stop for pedestrian" signs, that maybe get 20% recognition by drivers.

by Gull on Aug 30, 2013 11:22 am • linkreport

@ceefer You're right. It's not as safe. But they still shouldn't be getting tickets if they're not doing anything illegal. If MD wants to make mid-block crossings illegal, fine. But right now it's legal, and someone got a ticket for it. That's the issue here.

For what it's worth, I work in the area and am a frequent pedestrian. I see way more drivers running red lights, not yielding to pedestrians, and on their handheld cell phones than I see jaywalkers. I've almost been run over several times when legally in a marked crosswalk at an intersection with a light by drivers running red lights. More enforcement of these laws are needed.

by MetMet on Aug 30, 2013 11:23 am • linkreport

When it is legal is often better and safer to cross mid-block. At intersections you must contend with vehicles making right and left turns. Turning vehicles are not an issue with mid-block crossings.

by Alice on Aug 30, 2013 11:25 am • linkreport

Recently, I've started occasionally commuting to Rockville, where I need to cross both Viers Mill Rd and Rockville Pike near the Metro to reach my destination.

The pedestrian facilities in this area are generally terrible (a few of the pedestrian signals were replaced a few months ago, but never got plugged in). The county is also seemingly indifferent about blocking sidewalks here. The lights on Rockville Pike are also timed at ridiculous (>2 Minute) intervals.

However, the crosswalks on Viers Mill Rd are easily the most dangerous thing in this area. Cars *do* *not* *stop* at the crosswalk where Dodge St meets Viers Mill. The only way I can safely cross here is to wait for a gap, hold my arm up, and signal to oncoming drivers that I'm crossing the road whether they like it or not.

Even though the crosswalk is very well-marked (signs and everything), this generally makes people very angry. Two days ago, one of the drivers that was forced to stop rolled down his window, gave me the finger, and shouted "Get the f*** out of my way, or I'll f***ing hit you next time."

The driver was wearing a safety vest with the Montgomery County logo on it. By the time I got to the other side of the road, he had sped off, and I was unable to get his license plate.

I'll believe that Montgomery county is serious about pedestrian safety when they:

  1. REGULARLY enforce traffic violations against pedestrians.
  2. Maintain crosswalks and pedestrian signals. They're broken more often than not.
  3. Improve sidewalks and other pedestrian facilities (especially those directly adjacent to Metro stations)
  4. Hire employees who don't threaten to kill pedestrians.

by andrew on Aug 30, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

Wow, crime is so low in Montgomery County that the bored cops have to resort to ticketing people that aren't even breaking laws.

by Petworth dude on Aug 30, 2013 11:27 am • linkreport

Wonderful article. Can we have a DC and VA version as well. Or have a side-by-side comparison of the laws?

There are crucial differences between the laws. In DC, drivers have to STOP for pedestrians IN an intersection. Stopping is nice, but it's on the pedestrian to find a safe moment to get into an intersection. In VA on the other side, drivers have to YIELD to pedestrians NEAR an intersection. So they can keep rolling at you, which feels threatening, but they do have to pay attention to your intention of crossing.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

I know I'll likely get slammed for saying this, but crossing in the middle of the block isn't very smart - even if it's legal.

The distance between crosswalks on Viers Mill between Parkland Drive and Aspen Hill Road is .9 miles. That's potentially a mile on foot that a pedestrian would have to traverse to cross the road the "smart" way, but what kind of fool would put convenience ahead of their own safety?

I'll probably get slammed for saying this, but you know what else isn't very smart? Walking around in terribly designed suburban environments. Man, what kind of fool would do that when you can drive in air-conditioned comfort?

by oboe on Aug 30, 2013 11:47 am • linkreport

I second Jasper's request for a DMV comparison.

by JDC Esq on Aug 30, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

The biggest issue I have as a pedestrian in this area is drivers illegally turning right on red, and drivers who see their green arrow as taking priority over my white walk signal.

I thought these were designed to never be lit at the same time.

by perpmac on Aug 30, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

@andrew:

However, the crosswalks on Viers Mill Rd are easily the most dangerous thing in this area. Cars *do* *not* *stop* at the crosswalk where Dodge St meets Viers Mill. The only way I can safely cross here is to wait for a gap, hold my arm up, and signal to oncoming drivers that I'm crossing the road whether they like it or not.

I know I'll likely get slammed for saying this, but the smart thing to do here is probably to hail a cab to take you across the street. Or lease a helicopter or something.

by oboe on Aug 30, 2013 12:00 pm • linkreport

@ oboe - or drive! (with heavy sarcasm)

by JDC Esq on Aug 30, 2013 12:08 pm • linkreport

Did anyone get the officers name I say report him

by kk on Aug 30, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

@ andrew:hold my arm up, and signal to oncoming drivers that I'm crossing the road whether they like it or not.

Works surprisingly well. I know drivers do not care about my safety. But they do care about dents in their hood and blood on their grills.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

The biggest issue I have as a pedestrian in this area is drivers illegally turning right on red, and drivers who see their green arrow as taking priority over my white walk signal.

I thought these were designed to never be lit at the same time.

Me too! I thought that was the entire point of an arrow signal!

I've seen a few signals in MoCo that act this way, although they seem to do so inconsistently or intermittently. I almost have to wonder if this is a programming error.

I can't even blame drivers in this situation. If I was driving, I'd assume that a green arrow implies that there won't be anybody in the crosswalks.

by andrew on Aug 30, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

The law requires peds to yield if they are crossing mid block. Everywhere else, drivers must yield. Pretty simple. Blaming the pedestrians is like blaming a woman for being raped because she went outside at night.

by SJE on Aug 30, 2013 12:54 pm • linkreport

A couple of observations:

" those on foot have a claim to safety in crosswalks only when drivers are kept away by red lights.".

That should be the way it works. What that requires, though, is a system where vehicular traffic is stopped in all directions for a time, so pedestrians can have unfettered access to cross. Otherwise, pedestrians have to deal with traffic going straight, or traffic turning from the perpendicular road, depending on which has the light -- with no time keeping drivers away. Other countries do have a pedestrian signal that stops all vehicular traffic. You'd be hard-pressed to find that in the USA.

As for crossing in an unmarked crosswalk -- that seems like an oxymoron, at least as far as drivers are concerned. Requiring pedestrians to yield the right of way to cars sounds cute, but those who don't have more to worry about than a ticket.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on Aug 30, 2013 12:59 pm • linkreport

In response to Jasper:

"There are crucial differences between the laws. In DC, drivers have to STOP for pedestrians IN an intersection. Stopping is nice, but it's on the pedestrian to find a safe moment to get into an intersection. In VA on the other side, drivers have to YIELD to pedestrians NEAR an intersection. So they can keep rolling at you, which feels threatening, but they do have to pay attention to your intention of crossing."

In Singapore, where I grew up, drivers must yield to people who are near zebra crossings, not in them. Our street design is a bit different; our zebra crossings are not across major streets. Nonetheless, the statute says that "the driver of a vehicle who is ...turning his vehicle at a road intersection or junction ... shall stop his vehicle in order to give way to any pedestrian who is either crossing or is starting to cross the intersection or junction." (see part 4 of the statute). In fact, I remember getting dinged for this in my driver's test. And part 5 specifies that drivers approaching a crossing must slow down. Pedestrians are not technically allowed to cross outside of marked crossings (i.e. no unmarked crossings), but all crossings are clearly marked, all intersections have a marked crossing and traffic lights are at pretty frequent intervals.

http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=DocId%3A%22630de66c-597d-463d-8d0a-60167cb61986%22%20Status%3Ainforce%20Depth%3A0;rec=0

In DC, there are a number of marked crossings where there can be constant traffic at rush hour (e.g. E St NW, between 6th and 7th). Pedestrians will usually have to wait until traffic stops for them. It's a little obnoxious. I would favor changing the DC and MD statutes to specify that drivers must yield to pedestrians approaching or in the crosswalk. I would also be fine with being much more aggressive about marking crosswalks and using red light cameras to stop cars from turning across crosswalks as the light turns red (extremely frequent in Baltimore).

by Weiwen on Aug 30, 2013 1:03 pm • linkreport

I would fight every single one of those tickets. Maryland law is very clear. At an intersection the extension of the lateral lines of a sidewalk across the intersection is considered a crosswalk. Maryland law has a specific definition for a sidewalk as defined in TR 21-101:

(w) Sidewalk. -- "Sidewalk" means that part of a highway:
(1) That is intended for use by pedestrians; and
(2) That is between:
(i) The lateral curb lines or, in the absence of curbs, the lateral boundary lines of a roadway; and
(ii) The adjacent property lines.

It is the very specific definition of sidewalk that establishes crosswalks at every intersection in the State.

Maryland law also establishes Jaywalking only between two adjacent signalized intersections. If cross elsewhere and get in a collision, you will be cited for failure to yield, but not jaywalking.

The reality is that Marylanders simply do not know the law. It is a shame. I hope every ticketed person yesterday goes to court and pleads not guilty. I wish them luck.

by Murn on Aug 30, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

Crossing mid-block is sometimes safer because cars are coming at you from only one direction whereas at an intersection they come up behind you when they are turning left.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 30, 2013 1:52 pm • linkreport

I wonder about the intersection of Georgia and Silver Spring Ave. At some point fairly recently officials removed the painted crosswalk on the north side (you can see where it was painted over in google maps: http://goo.gl/maps/xTbyF ), so now there are walk signals and painted crosswalks only on three sides of the intersection. But according to the law quoted above, the unmarked crosswalk is still just as valid as the others.

So why was it removed?

by Gray on Aug 30, 2013 1:58 pm • linkreport

That's a good question.

One of the crosswalks was also removed at Jones Bridge and Wisconsin Ave. just south of NIH/Bethesda Naval/WRAMC.

Both incidents suggest that the county/SHA are trying to reduce the number of places people can cross.

by Capt. Hilts on Aug 30, 2013 2:01 pm • linkreport

The moral of the story is, big shocker here: Maryland and specifically Montgomery County sucks.

by 20011 on Aug 30, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

@20011-are you @Steve's other personality?

by Tina on Aug 30, 2013 2:08 pm • linkreport

@ Weiwen:In Singapore, where I grew up, drivers must yield to people who are near zebra crossings, not in them.

In Europe, all straight traffic has the right of way over turning traffic. That's how pedestrians and bikers get the right of way over turning drivers.

Also, all traffic from the right has the right of way, unless indicated otherwise. This is not the case in the US, as the US relies on the 'main' road having the right of way, which leads to ambiguous situations.

Subtle differences in laws can have huge impacts. I've noticed here that buses get stuck at stops forever. It took me a while before I realized that in Europe, buses and transit in general have the right of way when merging back into traffic from a stop. Saves a lot of time. Streetcars generally only have to yield to emergency vehicles.

by Jasper on Aug 30, 2013 2:12 pm • linkreport

No, not agreed it's not safe. I live near that crossing, and crossing mid-block can be as safe or safer than crossing at either of the adjacent unmarked crosswalks.

First, even if it's safer to cross mid-block doesn't mean it's safe. I walk in DTSS too and crossing the major roads doesn't seem safe (although Colesville is a bigger issue than Georgia).

Second, when you cross mid-block you're not able to see traffic that might be whipping around a corner coming at you mid block. Maybe crossing mid-block is your preference because you're counting on the cars that whip around corners to see you by the time they get mid-block but I prefer maximizing my field of vision and counting on myself.

Third, even if crossing mid-block is safe enough for you, doesn't mean it's safe enough for everyone and hence additional measures should be taken to increase ped safety. Of course, I'd agree that the police are not taking the appropriate measures.

by Falls Church on Aug 30, 2013 3:05 pm • linkreport

No, it IS safe. I live near that crossing, and crossing there can be as safe or safer than crossing at either of the adjacent unmarked crosswalks.
Also, look at the map. It is NOT "mid-block." There is an intersecting street. It is an intersection. An intersection where traffic in both directions is stopped by the stoplights at each far end. It is an "unmarked crosswalk;" granted, that's a ridiculous thing. Mark the crosswalks.

by Andrea on Aug 30, 2013 3:22 pm • linkreport

@Falls Church -

I'm not asserting crossing mid-block, or for that matter in an unmarked crosswalk or a marked crosswalk, is safe enough. None will be safe enough so long as so many drivers fail to recognize or respect pedestrian crossings of any kind. Driver education and behavior must be changed.

by Wayne Phyillaier on Aug 30, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

@ andrew "Recently, I've started occasionally commuting to Rockville, where I need to cross both Viers Mill Rd and Rockville Pike near the Metro to reach my destination.
The pedestrian facilities in this area are generally terrible (a few of the pedestrian signals were replaced a few months ago, but never got plugged in). The county is also seemingly indifferent about blocking sidewalks here. The lights on Rockville Pike are also timed at ridiculous (>2 Minute) intervals.
However, the crosswalks on Viers Mill Rd are easily the most dangerous thing in this area. Cars *do* *not* *stop* at the crosswalk where Dodge St meets Viers Mill."

I don't want to pry about your destination, but it seems to me there is probably an easier route. If you are trying to cross to the west side of Rockville Pike, you can take the overhead walkway to avoid traffic. Then you could head south from there. Or not?

by Chris S. on Aug 30, 2013 4:00 pm • linkreport

"First, even if it's safer to cross mid-block doesn't mean it's safe."

Well, come on now. Of course it's all relative. In this case "safe" is "don't cross any streets at all on foot". But there are only two choices here, and the mid-block is arguably safer. Saying that it's unsafe to walk in the DC suburbs at all may be true, but this seems to be splitting hairs to me.

by oboe on Aug 30, 2013 4:03 pm • linkreport

@Gray: roads designed by traffic engineers have only three crosswalks so they can have an uncontested left turn cycle. That keeps their vehicle level of service high at the expense of those using the crosswalks. When you see a three sided intersection, you know you're in an area where the people building the infrastructure simply do not value pedestrians.

This is the default for new roads designed by VDOT.

by Mike on Aug 30, 2013 8:33 pm • linkreport

Issuing a "ticket" for legal behavior has an official name:

18 USC § 241 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/241

"Conspiracy against rights".

Every last one of the police involved in this operation, and the policeman who ordered them to do it, committed a *FEDERAL CRIME* punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Now, why aren't they being prosecuted? That's the problem here -- criminals are being allowed to walk the streets with guns, wearing blue uniforms, and harassing honest citizens, rather than being locked in the slammer where they belong.

by Nathanael on Aug 31, 2013 8:56 am • linkreport

All intersections should have marked crosswalks.

by Denis James on Aug 31, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

It's time to get all police out of cars and onto foot or bicycle patrols.

by KillMoto on Aug 31, 2013 8:03 pm • linkreport

@ Nathanael:18 USC § 241 http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/18/241 ... "Conspiracy against rights" ... Every last one of the police involved in this operation, and the policeman who ordered them to do it, committed a *FEDERAL CRIME* punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Interesting. I wonder if someone has pulled that off.

by Jasper on Sep 1, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

An action under 18 USC 241 would get thrown out of court unless you can show a deliberate attempt to target a specific group, as distinct from a misguided attempt to enforce the law.

by SJE on Sep 1, 2013 11:28 pm • linkreport

@ SJE:An action under 18 USC 241 would get thrown out of court

Why?

unless you can show a deliberate attempt to target a specific group,

Pedestrians.

as distinct from a misguided attempt to enforce the law.

So, it's legal here to enforce laws that do not exist, persistently? There are plenty of cases where bikers of pedestrians are ticketed for the same thing that is legal, often in the hospital.

Is the government not at all liable for its own incompetency? I understand you can't throw every cop in jail for honest mistakes in grey areas of the law. But there should be some form of responsibility for persistently making up sh!t and dumping fines on weaker participants in traffic.

by Jasper on Sep 2, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

I don't want to pry about your destination, but it seems to me there is probably an easier route. If you are trying to cross to the west side of Rockville Pike, you can take the overhead walkway to avoid traffic. Then you could head south from there. Or not?

The problem is that the overpass doesn't let you exit on the other side of Rockville pike, and dumps you off in Rockville Center instead, which isn't all that convenient if you're heading south. After that, you'd still need to cross Viers Mill (the Rockville Pike crossing is surprisingly the less-scary of the two).

Typically, I cut through the parking lots next to the Metro, which lets me avoid walking along Rockville Pike entirely (which can be harrowing at night, given how narrow the sidewalks are -- it almost makes the sidewalks on Florida Ave NE seem extravagant by comparison)

by andrew on Sep 3, 2013 4:14 pm • linkreport


ceefer66 wrote: "I know I'll likely get slammed for saying this, but crossing in the middle of the block isn't very smart - even if it's legal."

Sometimes mid block crossing is the safest. I often cross mid-block (glad I know this is legal in my case) at the crest of a hill. Being at the top of the hill gives me a great view of traffic in both directions, but I can't see traffic well from some nearby unmarked crosswalks. In some other spots it's hard to see traffic until they crest nearby hills or come around bend in the road. I also agree that turning traffic is a major problem for crossing at intersections. To me it seems that this one size fits all way of simplifying traffic and safety is a problem. Everyone wants pedestrians to just fit into some neat little box because that makes it easier for drivers, commentators and others to decide who is in the right and who is in the wrong, etc. But not all situations fit into some little box.

by Solution Giver on Sep 5, 2013 1:17 pm • linkreport

I agree, mid crossing is safest and crosswalks should be marked

by Lauren on Aug 27, 2014 7:54 pm • linkreport

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