NORTH BETHESDA, Md. (WDVM) — Walkers, joggers, and bikers in a North Bethesda neighborhood are shaken up after another pedestrian was killed. It now marks the 4th fatal crash in the county just this year.
At around 10 a.m. on Thursday, a 74-year-old man was hit and killed while crossing the street. He was jogging when he was hit by a Subaru and the driver stayed on the scene after the accident. Some neighbors have changed their exercise routes to avoid the exact same crossing.
Baris Turkbey walks frequently around his neighborhood and prefers to stay on the westbound side of the street. He says cars rarely stop or even slow down for people waiting to cross the street.
Norma Erroa was walking her dogs on Friday night and refused to cross the street to change her route.
“If I come out of my apartment, I walk in this [westbound] direction and then I’ll come back and walk back in the same direction because I don’t wanna cross because the cars come like fast,” Erroa said.
Earlier this week, local leaders stressed the importance of pedestrian safety as serious and fatal crashes involving pedestrians are rising across the DMV. John Saunders, the director of Highway Safety at the Virginia DMV, says that 100% of the pedestrian and bicyclist deaths in the area were preventable.
“Too many pedestrians and bicyclists were killed on the streets in this region last year to the people making bad choices,” Saunders said. “100% of those deaths were preventable.”
Sharon Kershbaum, the deputy director of the District Department of Transportation, echoed Saunders’ sentiments. She also highlighted the importance of lowering the speed limits, especially on local roads.
Research has shown that when beat when drivers slow down, it’s easier for them to avoid crashes and the crashes that do occur are less severe, especially when the crash involves someone walking,” Kershbaum explained. “A pedestrian struck by a vehicle at 20 miles an hour has a 90% chance of survival, their chance of survival drops to only 10% at 40 miles an hour.”
Some walkers, joggers, and bikers say the signage on Tuckerman Lane is confusing. While signs do say to stop for pedestrians in the crosswalk, the red light is only activated when you hit the button. Montgomery County Police say they’re working to determine whether or not the push-to-activate signal was on when the crash happened.
Some say that needs to change.
“It would be better served if maybe there were lights around the signs on the side like white lights,” Bill Golden said. “Even if they were like flashing to kind of bring your attention to that so you’re looking for pedestrians.”
Sam Shepson highlighted how the area is very residential with many families with kids as well as older adults. He believes the speed limit could be contributing to the dangers of the crosswalk on Tuckerman Lane.
“It [the speed limit] should be lowered from a 40 mile per hour speed limit to a 35 mile per hour limit,” Shepson explained. “I think would be appropriate because of the number of pedestrians and the fact that the street is 35 miles per hour just a mile or so away.”
The rise in pedestrian deaths in the area has motivated a group of researchers from the Urban Institute, to study just how difficult and dangerous it is to walk around D.C. The study revealed that all neighborhoods in D.C. are failing at providing safety for pedestrians and that no neighborhood has a perfect ‘walkability’ score. Researchers also measured things like ‘how well a street was lit,’ the lack of sidewalks and roadway safety, and police neighborhood presence.
The Urban Institute says the city can curb pedestrian deaths, by adding tree covering in dense areas and make sidewalks more accessible for people with disabilities.