Pedestrian safety should be paramount at construction sites
While an enclosed walkway on Marinelli Road between the White Flint Metro and its parking garage was meant to shield pedestrians from an adjacent construction site, it has actually made conditions less safe.
The walkway does its job during rush hour, but it creates an unneeded dark alley for people coming home after dinner.
Last weekend, I had dinner with a friend of mine who lives in one of the apartment buildings adjacent to the White Flint Metro. She asked me, "What's up with that creepy walkway by my apartment?"
One of the main reasons she moved from Columbia to White Flint was for the proximity to the Metro. After a night out at dinner, she got off the Metro to walk home. But she walked in the street rather than using the walkway. "I'm not going in that thing after dark because I can't see around the corner. Even worse, it's fenced in so I'd be trapped if something bad were to happen," she continued.
It is clear that the enclosed walkway was erected with the rush hour commuter in mind. The walkway makes perfect sense for commuters walking from the parking garage to the Metro. It's light out and there are plenty of people around. My friend noted that at night she couldn't much see around the curve in the sidewalk. It was completely impossible to see around the corner into the parking garage.
It is disappointing that the walkway couldn't have been designed with safety and comfort in mind. I don't think that the enclosed walkway was built to feel unsafe at night on purpose. I think that the concept that a young woman would walk there after dark was just never taken into consideration.
Lighting, mirrors, and perhaps periodic openings for egress are all necessary attributes for a workable temporary walkway. These considerations will be even more important if this walkway is still there in the late fall, when the sun sets before the commute has ended.
Montgomery County can do better than this. The county should plan for pedestrian safety after residents leave those destinations and walk home from the Metro. They should require that if a sidewalk is obstructed due to construction, that a safe alternate route be provided. And that detour should include lighting and other safety features if necessary.
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