Wall in White Flint endangers pedestrians
Outside the White Flint Metro station, a stone wall has been erected to force pedestrians to cross Marinelli Road at the intersection of Rockville Pike. While this barrier prevents pedestrians from crossing outside of the crosswalk, it also creates new dangers.
Improving pedestrian conditions here is especially important because White Flint lacks a bus loop. Among Montgomery County Metro stations, only Forest Glen and White Flint do not have off-street bus stops (Silver Spring's bus bays have been temporarily closed due to the construction of the new transit center).
As a result, many patrons transferring between buses and the Metro are forced to cross Marinelli Road or Rockville Pike. An underpass does allow pedestrians to cross under the Pike, but the same facilities don't exist for people crossing Marinelli. The current configuration is just plain hostile to pedestrians and makes little sense in front of a Metro station &mdash especially in front of the station at the center of what Montgomery County hopes will be its next downtown.
Because of the placement of the bus stop located on the south side of Marinelli across from the Metro entrance, there is a desire line across the street. The wall makes pedestrians go the long way around, and is typical of the conventional mid-20th century transportation orthodoxy which asserted that cars and pedestrians should be kept separate.
Additionally, the wall creates hazards for motorists. While I was taking photos, I saw two motorists turn left from southbound Rockville Pike (MD 355) into the oncoming lanes on Marinelli Road. A friend of mine who lives in one of the apartment buildings adjacent to the Metro said to me that she did the same thing the first time she turned left onto Marinelli. This wall violates the concept of driver expectancy. Drivers often drive based on what they expect, not necessarily according to actual conditions. To many drivers, a wall implies the side of the road rather than a median.
The wall also partially obstructs drivers' view of pedestrians in and around the crosswalk. It is especially hard for drivers to see road hazards, shorter pedestrians, children, and wheelchair users.
A more progressive approach would be to relocate the bus stop directly across the street from the Metro entrance. The stop line for cars approaching the Rockville Pike intersection on westbound Marinelli Road would also be moved back to allow a crosswalk to occupy the new desire line to the bus stop and NRC headquarters across the street.
As White Flint develops into a more urban area, Montgomery County will need to begin to treat the needs of pedestrians as more important than those of drivers. If Rockville Pike remains as hostile to pedestrians as it is now, no amount of density will turn White Flint into an urban center.
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