Greater Greater Washington

Breakfast links: Mean streets of Maryland


Photo by BikePortland.org.
Cyclist dies at spot slated to become more auto-centric: An SUV driver killed a 16-year-old cyclist while she was riding (legally) on the sidewalk on Great Seneca Highway and trying to cross an entrance ramp to Sam Eig Highway. This spot is in the Gaithersburg West area, where planners claim to be trying to create a walkable and bikeable area but plan even more grade-separated, high-speed interchanges including at this intersection. (ABC7, Jaime)

That's not all: There have been a lot of fatal crashes in the news lately. A driver struck and killed a pedestrian in Germantown, at a poorly lit, poorly marked area (Post). And a pickup truck driver killed a Metro transit police officer riding a motorcycle in Carroll County on Monday. (WTOP)

Behave yourselves!: The Boston Globe reports on that city's efforts to become more hospitable to cyclists, but throws in some editorial commentary about cyclists following the laws. Newton Streets and Sidewalks wonders what it would be like if every time a newspaper covered a bridge repair or road repaving, they exhorted drivers to stop speeding so much.

Watering trees by bike: Casey Trees has a new "Water By-Cycle" to water street trees without driving a huge truck around the city. It's a bike with a custom 6-foot cargo trailer carrying tree maintenance and watering equipment.

Amtrak on Google Transit too: Amtrak is the latest rail provider to participate in Google Transit. Now, presumably, people looking up long-distance driving directions will see options to travel by train as well as by car. (Webwire via Planetizen)

Road connectivity dialogue proceeding over DMPED's objections: At July's Council hearing, Ward 7 residents and activists urged the Council to reserve public land for a street connection at Minnesota and Benning as proposed in the Great Streets Plan. DMPED's Ayris Scales called it a "road to nowhere," but the developers, who hadn't engaged much with the community previously, reached out and promised to look into restoring the road connection, despite Scales' "vocal disagreement." (Ward 7 Connections, East of the River)

Cheh, Graham, Wells safe; Mendelson, Fenty maybe not: Mary Cheh (ward 3) is in a strong position for reelection next year, with 53% of voters in a recent poll "definitely" voting for her. Jim Graham (ward 1) and Tommy Wells (ward 6) are likewise strong, while Phil Mendelson (at-large) seems vulnerable, with only 32% definite voters. However, last time he won the Democratic primary handily despite early poll weakness, and 53% of voters still view him favorable. Fenty, too, only has 30% of Democratic primary voters in wards 1, 3, and 6 definitely supporting his reelection, though his favorability rating is 68%. (Examiner)

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David Alpert is the founder and editor-in-chief of Greater Greater Washington. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and daughter in Dupont Circle. 

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Hmm, at the moment only the Empire Service, Ethan Allen Express, Hiawatha Service, Pacific Surfliner, and San Joaquin seem to be listed. Good start, though, and they say the list will grow!

Actually, for certain trips in the Bay Area, you can get results that include Amtrak's Capital Corridors train, which makes sense because it's really commuter-rail like. But for other trips that seem like they'd quite reasonably include Capital Corridor service, Google shunts you onto buses instead. Compare a trip from Jack London Square to San Jose to a trip from Oakland Airprot to San Jose. Something odd is going on....

by jfruh on Aug 12, 2009 9:46 am • linkreport

Actually, the Amtrak integration seems a little screwy generally. If you enter as your origin and destination Penn Station in NY and the downtown Amtrak station in Buffalo, you get Empire Service results; but if you enter addresses in NY and Buffalo that would easily connect by transit to those two stations, it tells you that you're looking outside its service area.

by jfruh on Aug 12, 2009 9:50 am • linkreport

And just for the record, Japan has fully integrated their national rail system, domestic airlines and ferries into Google Maps, while South Korea has similarly added transit data for their subways, local bus routes, and inter-city express buses. Dream on... dream on.

by Adam L on Aug 12, 2009 10:38 am • linkreport

Interesting word choice in the first item. "An SUV driver killed..." and the SUV is not, as one automatically supposes, a large, gas-sucking Suburban or Expedition, but is a little Honda CRV. I don't know if it's worse to be killed by a SUV driver, but why didn't the next item then say "A sports car driver struck and killed..." if it is important to identify the type of vehicle involved in the accident, as it must be as the final citation in the second item specifies that "...a pickup truck driver killed...".

by ksu499 on Aug 12, 2009 10:40 am • linkreport

The Post article didn't make it clear where the pedestrian was trying to cross the street -- was it at a poorly marked/poorly lit intersection or was he crossing where he shouldn't have been crossing?
Anyone know the area?

by mike capitol hill on Aug 12, 2009 10:52 am • linkreport

The heavily used Ride-On route 61 runs on Clopper Road. The first bus stops at the corner of Clopper & Mateny, near the site of the pedestrian death, at 4:38 am and the last bus in the evening stops at 12:11 am.

Someone trying to reach a southbound bus stop from Allspice would need to cross Clopper. Unless there is a bus stop at the intersection, it would also be necessary to walk along Clopper where there is no sidewalk. According to Google maps, there is no signal at Allspice Drive and the crosswalk is unmarked, so it is legal to cross at any point. I doubt that it would be any safer in practice to cross at the intersection than elsewhere.

This sort of situation is unfortunately all too common in Montgomery County and elsewhere.

by Ben Ross on Aug 12, 2009 11:24 am • linkreport

How is Jim Graham safe? Does he actually do anything?

by Ward 2 on Aug 12, 2009 11:39 am • linkreport

@Ward 2 - Yes, he Grahamstands.

by Moose on Aug 12, 2009 11:44 am • linkreport

I think Mendo is in trouble. The whole gun thing was a cluster-F. He drafted laws that were basically an FU to the Supreme Court (which he of course knew at the time). He admitted as much a the first threat of a lawsuit.

The problem is that his petulance on the gun issue is what triggered the amendment in Congress that sunk our best chance for voting rights in decades.

Being a one-party town, you don't hear a lot about this in the public discourse, but i have talked to many who hold him at least partially responsible for that screw up.

by beatbox on Aug 12, 2009 11:52 am • linkreport

In the 2006 Democratic primary, conventional wisdom, including several notable pundits, predicted that (white) Phil Mendelson was an easy target for his (black) challenger in this majority black city. But Mendelson won every ward in the city, taking all but about ten precincts. He got more votes than any candidate in any race except for Eleanor Holmes Norton. There's always the possibility of another well-funded challenger, and if so, Phil will have work to do, but provided he puts together another good campaign, he ought to be fine.

by thm on Aug 12, 2009 12:35 pm • linkreport

re: cyclist death.

The story annoys me by focusing on the type of car being driven and the fact that the cyclist was not wearing a helmet. It omits the most important fact: whether the driver failed to yield at the cross walk, as required by law. From the map of the area and the footpath, it would make most sense that the cyclist was trying to cross the road at the crosswalk.

From my experience, I would guess that failure to yield at crosswalks is, after speeding, the most violated traffic law.

by SJE on Aug 12, 2009 2:42 pm • linkreport

I was sad to read about the young cyclist. I commute through this intersection every day, and I must admit is is a very awkward crossing (see below). The crosswalk is about halfway down the ramp and cars are normally going 50+ MPH. The sidewalk continues the full length of the ramp, so from a motorist perspective, it's difficult to tell if the cyclist will continue straight or make the sudden turn to use the crosswalk. And since this is downhill, the cyclist is often moving at a pretty good clip.


View Larger Map

The only way I could see to make this intersection safer would be to replace the high speed ramp with a more traditional right turn intersection.

by James on Aug 12, 2009 11:53 pm • linkreport

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