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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Bike Crossing and a Disconnected Street

I drive around the College Park Metro Station a lot. That area is home to one of the most notable examples on Prince George's County's long list of misguided transportation infrastructure disasters. The College Park Trolley Trail crossing at Paint Branch Parkway. Rethink College Park has chronicled the embarrassingly over-the-top markings, signs, and traffic implements to bring notice to the heavily traveled bike path crossing.

Allow me to set the scene: The College Park Trolley Trail runs along the bits and fragments of a disjointed Rhode Island  Avenue between Route 1 and the MARC/Metro tracks. It is a heavily used trail that connects north College Park to the University and the Metro Center, and this crossing is a crucial point on the path. Paint Branch Parkway is a four lane road with a double yellow line. The south side of the road has a sidewalk that goes under the train tracks to the Metro station. The north side has nothing between the train tracks and Route 1 despite several bus stops along the route. The only signalized crossing accessible to the north side of the CPTT is at Route 1, about a quarter mile west. And as mentioned above, there are no sidewalks to get there.

College Park has been trying to get a HAWK signal at the intersection, an option the County dismissed quickly. There is another way to get the crossing signalized, however College Park is likely to foolishly dismiss it: connect Rhode Island Avenue to Paint Branch Parkway.


View Larger Map


The CPTT and Rhode Island Avenue would intersect Paint Branch Parkway at the same place, and the vehicular intersection could receive a traffic signal on which the bike and pedestrian path could piggy-back. This would also improve street connectivity in traffic-clogged College Park. But that's exactly why the idea will probably never be explored. It would attract cars into the neighborhood, a notion that the University and the residents will likely balk at. Never mind the fact that it houses College Park's newest parking garage at Knox Road and Yale Avenue. People won't want through traffic by-passing traffic-choked Route 1 on the narrow, speed-bumpy neighborhood streets.

Prince George's County, like most of the rest of the nation, favors funneling traffic onto main streets instead of keeping a permeable network of interconnected and redundant streets. Usually, this just isolates communities and creates traffic problems. In this case, however, it hurts (sometimes literally) pedestrians and bikers who cannot count on Paint Branch Parkway drivers to obey the 35 mph speed limit or the state law that mandates cars stop at all crosswalks for bikes and peds.

In most other wealthy countries on earth, bikes, cars, pedestrians and transit find a way to coexist together on publicly maintained roads. This separation of modes with a grossly negligent safety situation once again emphasizes that in a country that is already bad at that, Prince George's County finds a way to prove they are one of the worst.

1 comment:

IMGoph said...

could not have said it better myself.