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Why’d the Pedestrian Cross the Road?

Senior Forum focuses on pedestrian safety.

When June Bray was struck and killed while crossing Westlake Drive in early January, Montgomery County Police decided that they needed to do something to try to raise awareness of pedestrian safety among those who live in the area.

One area of outreach includes a senior forum, a monthly program held at the P&G Montgomery Mall Cinemas.

“We’ve touched on this topic [pedestrian safety] before, but every year we try to review,” said Officer Diane Quinn of the Montgomery County Police.

Last year there were 515 pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County, 13 of which were fatal, according to police.

The program discussed more issues than just looking both ways and crossing at the crosswalks. It was led by Christy Huddle, pedestrian safety coordinator in the county executive’s office.

Huddle showed off products like telescoping poles, reflective tape and something called a “Globe Strobe” all of which help pedestrians be more visible to cars.

The Globe strobe is a small flashing light that is visible at night from up to a mile away. “I will hold it out the width I want the car to stay away from me,” Huddle said.

Attendees were also reminded that they must be careful when driving. “Traffic safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Pam Miller, vice chair of the County’s Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee.

Miller pointed out that drivers who do not stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk are subject to a fine of $500 and one point on their license.

Crosswalks MIGHT not be marked, Huddle said. An area that crosses the street at a corner between sidewalks can still be a crosswalk, even if the lines are not painted on the pavement.

Although it is technically possible for pedestrians to be at fault if they are crossing against a light or if they cross the street on a diagonal, it is still incumbent on drivers to be careful.

“Just because the pedestrian is being stupid doesn’t mean they’re fair game,” Huddle said.

Huddle further explained that in more than 80 percent of pedestrian/vehicle collisions in residential areas, the drivers live in the neighborhood. “Convince your neighbors that they should not speed,” Huddle said.

Police also asked residents to inform them when they see people panhandling along median strips. This practice can be dangerous for the individuals who are doing it, and police will come to move them along. She suggested that residents who witness such a practice call the police non-emergency number, 301-279-8000.

“We want to know about them,” Quinn said.