After three collisions in the same month, Rockville pedestrians are weary of impatient motorists in a city that has more people walking and biking than ever before.
The most recent collision happened on August 9 when a 44-year-old bicyclist, Kurt Zwally of Silver Spring, was struck by a gray-colored SUV on Route 108 in a hit-and-run near Laytonsville according to the Montgomery County Police Department.
According to the press release, the bicyclist was traveling east along Route 108 when a vehicle also traveling east tried to pass the bicycle by driving into the westbound lane. When a westbound vehicle approached, the SUV driver then swerved back into the eastbound lane and hit the biker. The driver of the SUV continued to travel east without stopping. The bicyclist was wearing a helmet at the time and he was transported to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Montgomery County Police are still investigating the hit-and-run case and anyone with information regarding the collision is encouraged to contact them.
On August 6, the driver of Toyota Venza traveling on the southbound lanes of Rockville Pike struck a pedestrian, identified as 24-year-old Mathew Aaron Papirmeister of Bethesda, as he was trying to cross the pike at 11:15 p.m. Papirmeister was transported to Suburban Hospital with life-threatening injuries where he died later that weekend.
Another accident happened on August 3 when a 21-year-old died after a pickup truck struck him at the intersection of First and Maple Street in Rockville at around 11:38 p.m.
According to MCPD, there were 483 total pedestrian collisions last year, which has increased from 434 collisions in 2005. 68 percent of these collisions happen on county roads according to MCPD.
Alex Bigler, a 21-year-old longboarder said, “if you don’t press the button at the sign and take a step at the crosswalk, the drivers won’t stop. There’s a mix of drivers who are nice enough to let you cross and people who don’t care.”
Bigler said the cross walks near the Rockville metro station and Dawson’s Market in downtown Rockville is especially dangerous because some drivers cross the street even when the lights are flashing on the pedestrian sign.
In 2013, the percentage of collisions where the driver was at fault had risen to 62 percent according to The Montgomery County Council’s CountyStat’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative update.
According to CountyStat, “Pedestrians at fault between the ages of 10 and 29 are over-represented in collisions compared to their share in the population as a whole.”
David Johnson, a 43-year-old barber said, “A lot of people don’t pay attention because there is always a big distraction. People who are driving have too much on their mind.”
According to the CountyStat update, between 2010 and 2013, 300 pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County happened as a result of the driver failing to give their full time and attention. Drivers who failed to yield the right of way caused 333 collisions.
Johnson believes there should be more signs in Rockville for drivers to yield to pedestrians. He also thinks the walk signal at crosswalks should last a longer time so that pedestrians have more time to cross the street.
According to the City of Rockville’s Pedestrian Policies, “The community’s accommodation of pedestrians is a reflection of its quality of life. Even with the best of attractions to offer its citizens, a community is incomplete unless one can walk to those attractions.”