Monday, July 14, 2008

now, don't do this at home, but . . .


You know how I feel about speed cameras. As much as I don't support vandalism of public property, I can't say I haven't driven past the county's new speed cameras without thinking up various ways I could put them "out of service," if you will. This photo (I don't know where it was taken yet) comes from - who else? - Chip Py, perhaps best known for leading a march on Downtown Silver Spring last summer in support of free speech for photograhpers.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dan, your ideas about improving the roads so people will drive more slowly are good. Meanhwile, we need all the help we can get to stop speeders. After many years as a pedestrian/transit rider who only drove Zipcars, I finally got a car. I do NOT exceed the speed limit, and I am sick of getting tailgated. On Sligo Creek Pkway the other day, a Cadillac crossed the double yellow line to pass me, so he could speed! I'm gonna spray-paint a big red smooch on a speed camera...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I am sick of getting tailgated. On Sligo Creek Pkway the other day, a Cadillac crossed the double yellow line to pass me, so he could speed! I'm gonna spray-paint a big red smooch on a speed camera...

July 14, 2008 2:56 PM

RE: Sir/Ma'am that is one of the MAJOR Consequence of the older generation of stoping the former plans to build a multi-Lane Highway(I-270) through Silver Spring/Takoma Park and now for the past several decades people who live in the area that have to go to/from Silver Spring are being tempted to use the Surface Streets as mini-highways...

If you are familiar with driving on the surface roads in Arlington/Alexandria there aren't any surface roads(such as Duke Street, Seminary Road, King Street/Leesburg Pike, Wilson Blvd, George Mason Drive, Columbia Pike(VA 244), Glebe Road, etc.) where people are tempted to speed on them like mini-highways because they use I-66, I-395, and US 50 to get to/from their destination quickly.......

You may support Speed Cameras but get caught by one of them and I can almost be sure that you will be crying a different tune when/if you ever get a nice Speeding Ticket being mailed to you......

Dave Murphy said...

I disagree. I have received a speed camera ticket from North Capitol Street near the Veterans Hospital. $100. I fully support the effort despite my inconvenience. And I certainly don't blame my ticket on the lack of a ill-advised freeway though the area.

On roads that are grossly over-engineered (such as Wayne Avenue or North Capitol Street) it is the only incentive for motorists to drive at speeds conducive to the safety of the region through which they are driving, rather than the optimal speed safely attained on the over-engineered street.

People speed on Wayne Avenue because it is four wide lines, as opposed to nearby Franklin Avenue, which is also speed limit 30, but it is much more difficult to drive at high speeds on it.

I prefer speed cameras to speed bumps, which can potentially damage vehicles and slow down emergency vehicles, all while not producing municipal revenue that cameras produce. Stop signs, however, would probably serve Wayne Avenue in particular much better than the cameras.

Don't get me wrong, speed cameras are a miserable substitute for wasteful engineering, but I think they serve better purpose than some of the alternatives.

Thomas Hardman said...

Until the speed cameras went into use on Bel Pre Road between Georgia Avenue and Layhill Road, it was referred to as "the Outer Beltway". While posted for 35 MPH, common speeds were closer to 45 or 50 MPH. Considering that it went past Argyle Middle School and frequently people wouldn't slow down much despite a hundred or so teens milling about on the sidewalks, I hate to say that I welcome the speed cameras. But I do.

Bel Pre Road along that stretch is mostly what you call a "four lane road with a suicide left lane". Due to pavement conditions in some parts, people traveling in both directions had a tendency to drift into the central "suicide left" lane. Furthermore, the high density housing led to a lot of turning both onto and off of Bel Pre Road, and the intersection with Layhill Road had become one of the top four most-dangerous intersections in the Greater Washington Metro area.

Now, I am someone who liked to drive (until the price of gas skyrocketed) and I didn't much mind pushing the envelope now and then, when the conditions permitted and the streets weren't full of boneheads in riced-out Civics. Yet these are the conditions nowadays. I've discovered -- long before the cameras -- that the safest approach to driving on Bel Pre Road was to pick a lane, stay in it, and drive at the speed limit. That adds a sense of predictability to driving, calming the otherwise chaotic and often frenetic scrambling of aggressive drivers and the drivers they startle into making unsafe lane changes.

Bel Pre Road is hardly "over-engineered". If you want to see an example of how to ruin a perfectly good road, try driving on Connecticut Avenue between Georgia and Bel Pre. All of the "traffic calming" measures that are in place probably mostly increase risk, especially to people who haven't previously encountered that stretch of road. To make matters worse, some of the traffic-calming technology deployed ought to be made available so that people can use the adjacent North Gate Park, but it's forbidden to park there, and all that's happened is that four lanes of traffic limited to 40MPH is now two lanes of traffic allowed to go 40MPH.

Dan Reed said...

"All of the "traffic calming" measures that are in place probably mostly increase risk, especially to people who haven't previously encountered that stretch of road."

That's very much the point. The assumption is that if you see something in the road - familiar or unfamiliar - you'll slow down and pay attention. I was on Arcola Avenue last week, where they've done the same thing, and I had to slow down because I don't normally use Arcola and I'd never seen the little curb boxes before.

If we want people to slow down, we have to engineer the roads for slower speeds. Calverton Boulevard has a speed limit of 30, but you could probably drive it at 50 safely the way it's designed.

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be surprised if it was Chip Py himself that vandalized that camera so he could take a photo of it. Just like he started a fight with a poor African security guard in Silver Spring so he would build up his name. This guy is too much. He'll be caught one day.

Anonymous said...

Thomas Hardman said...
Until the speed cameras went into use on Bel Pre Road between Georgia Avenue and Layhill Road, it was referred to as "the Outer Beltway". While posted for 35 MPH, common speeds were closer to 45 or 50 MPH. Considering that it went past Argyle Middle School and frequently people wouldn't slow down much despite a hundred or so teens milling about on the sidewalks, I hate to say that I welcome the speed cameras. But I do.

RE: Bel-Pre Road may have been nickname the Outter Beltway due to the selfish anti-progressive Psychos that keep trying to Prevent the ICC from being Built....

Its all about cause and effect.

Prevent a High Speed Highway from getting built will result into motorist using smaller surface roads as a de-facto Highway...

Anonymous said...

Dan Reed said...
"All of the "traffic calming" measures that are in place probably mostly increase risk, especially to people who haven't previously encountered that stretch of road."

That's very much the point. The assumption is that if you see something in the road - familiar or unfamiliar - you'll slow down and pay attention. I was on Arcola Avenue last week, where they've done the same thing, and I had to slow down because I don't normally use Arcola and I'd never seen the little curb boxes before.

If we want people to slow down, we have to engineer the roads for slower speeds. Calverton Boulevard has a speed limit of 30, but you could probably drive it at 50 safely the way it's designed.

July 15, 2008 11:24 AM


RE: The best solution is to build a Designated Highway for people who want to get to their destination quicker so that it will offset people that are tempted to use Back Roads as Highspeed Road Way.

rickyr1983 said...

I hate speed cameras.

The worst are the ones on Briggs Chaney Rd. It's ridiculous how slow they force you to go when it's just not natural. I'm forced to hit the brakes as I go downhill on that road out of fear of getting a $40 ticket in the mail again.

Ban these idiotic things.

Douglas A. Willinger said...

We definitely could use a North Central Freeway.

It's interesting how it was deliberately botched after JFK's death in order to create opposition with routes that were needlessly destructive.

See the label "highway routing mysteries" at "A Trip Within the Beltway".

Anonymous said...

Douglas A. Willinger said...

We definitely could use a North Central Freeway.

It's interesting how it was deliberately botched after JFK's death in order to create opposition with routes that were needlessly destructive.

See the label "highway routing mysteries" at "A Trip Within the Beltway".

July 16, 2008 10:15 AM

RE: Please correct me if I'm Wrong but was the North Central Freeway consist of the former plans to buld I-270 through NW DC/Silver Spring and I-95 through NE DC/Hyattsville/College Park??????????


Its EXTREMELY Strange how they got away with building I-95(Now I-395) and I-66 through DC/Arlington/Falls Church/Alexandria without any Communist Dictators trying to prevent both Highways from being built.............

Thomas Hardman said...

Wow! Douglas A. Willinger !

I haven't seen you since "Fabrikant" and the Brazilian Loon took over news:dc.general and the excellent crossposted threads from the Urban Planning groups got buried in the latest version of Endless September.

Nice to see you!

Hey, any thoughts on the Montrose Parkway's extension to Veirs Mill Road and the (supposedly on the back burner but with the heat set on "medium") possible extension up the Matthew Henson State Park R.O.W. to an intersection with the ICC in the Northwest Branch Stream Park near the site of the modern-day "Trolley Museum"?

Or the inevitability of an "Upper Rock Creek Expressway" from the ICC to MD-108?

Possibly there's a better venue than this for that. See my website which might give you some clue as to my former UseNet alias back when I was being a pseudonymous coward. ;)

Folks, sorry to interrupt with a fairly girly scream-and-hug festival, but Mr W and I go back about 10 years or so, I guess.

Anonymous said...

Boy am I glad we didn't elect Mr. Hardman here in District 4. He is turning up to be a real wacko. Proposing freeways through Rock Creek and Matthew Henson State Park. These roads will never happen, I mean never. We don't need any more wackos in Rockville to do anything crazy. WE NEED LIGHT RAIL NOW. Not road-oriented wanna-be politicans like Mr. Hardman

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Boy am I glad we didn't elect Mr. Hardman here in District 4. He is turning up to be a real wacko. Proposing freeways through Rock Creek and Matthew Henson State Park. These roads will never happen, I mean never. We don't need any more wackos in Rockville to do anything crazy. WE NEED LIGHT RAIL NOW. Not road-oriented wanna-be politicans like Mr. Hardman

July 16, 2008 11:28 PM

RE: I'm confussed here....

Mr. Hardman doesn't talk like he supports Highway Building in Maryland....

Anyway's you on the otherhand seem to be part of the Gang that wants to Sabotage All forms of Economic/Business/Revenue Growth in Maryland by Preventing Modern Office Towers and Upscale Retail Centers from being built in which is part of the reason you HATE for Maryland to have any New Highway Built in the State because you know it will give Virginia a Severe Compition for Upscale Business Growth and entice Businesses in Northern Virginia to Migrate over the Potomac River into Maryland and also entice some Virgians to want to move into Maryland in which you would possibly hate to see happen and would more than likely love to see More Marylanders move from the state into possibly Virginia and other Highly Growing Regions in the Sunbelt Region of the South.........

GoHomeLexInVA said...

Lex, Maryland is Building the Intercounty Connector SUPERHIGHWAY that will link the business corridors of I-270 and BWI/I-95 to unite the state of Maryland as a ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POWERHOUSE. The ICC will also enable the KONTERRA development which will build a new megacity south of Laurel. With quick movement on the PURPLE LINE and other light rail corridors in MD and DC, it is Maryland, not Virginia that is leading the way to relieve gridlock. Virginia is stuck in gridlock, literally and figuratively. Even if they build Metro to Dulles it will be in a highway median that discourages TOD. At Tysons the elevated track will rise far above the streets with most pedestrian activity on skywalks that are destined to failure. Failure is a word that defines Northern Virginia. Failure to diversify their economy beyond homeland security contractors and $20K/yr IT geeks. With no major scientific/research activity like Maryland has in biotechnology or at NIH or Johns Hopkins. Maryland has the economy of the future. Superior quality of life. Building urban development at our transit centers where we are currently building the equivalent of TWO Reston Town Centers within walking distance of each other at White Flint/Twinbrook. And working towards relieving our gridlock with MAJOR NEW HIGHWAY AND TRANSIT CONSTRUCTION while STAGNANT NORTHERN VIRGINIA FESTERS in their gridlocked car-loving paradise and a whole county has turned racist. How shameful. Thank God I do not live in Northern Virginia.
Hey Lex, maybe you should think about jumping ship. Leave that stink hole and come to the more prosperous side of the Potomac where you can find MAJOR NEW UPSCALE RETAIL, not just another KFC in some strip mall. Then again, you guys from PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY might like that.

Go Home to VA Lex. NOW!

Thomas Hardman said...

Wow, either the illiterates have come out to play copypasta or perhaps the anonymous coward has ingested far too many medications and has gone over the edge into debating itself.

Calling me a "road oriented politician" might seem reasonable to someone who has been huffing lighter-fluid for a couple of decades and can't get a non-anonymous account because they're insufficiently clever to sign up for gmail. Or maybe someone with a severe memory problem who hasn't yet learned to review what's been posted in the exact same thread.

However, to drift back to the subject at hand, the fact is, if you have insufficient traffic capacity to handle the volume at a lower speed, people will generally try to speed up to move the same amount of traffic in the same amount of time on streets that are more narrow. Making them drive more slowly isn't a useful alternative to a lack of surface roads, though frequently adding a lot of mass-transit to those routes will be a useful alternative.

That being said, Mr Willinger and I do go back a way, and have had quite a lot of informed and intelligent discussions in which we didn't always disagree. However, unlike yourself, he was always coherent and on-topic.

The plans for the "Montrose Parkway" have been on the Master Plan for many years now. For some more information about how that route has influenced planning in and about Aspen Hill -- including the construction of the infamous "Cloverlead to Nowhere" -- try reading some articles

Right now, the former State Highway Administration right-of-way for the fully extended Montrose Parkway is Matthew Henson State Park and it would take an amendment of the Constitution of Maryland as well as separate acts of the Assembly to revert it for highway uses. That isn't to say that this couldn't happen; right now the administrative authority is the MNCPPC. On the other side of Georgia Avenue the land is now the "Matthew Henson Greenway", with a new hiker-biker trail.

As for the Upper Rock Creek Expressway, people who actually went to my website and read
my positions on my blog
will have noticed that I promised to fight any such thing, if elected. So, Anonymous, now you look not only crazed but stupid. Thanks for providing comic relief to an otherwise serious discussion.

Yet my opposition to any such expressway primarily aligned to the stream-valley of Upper Rock Creek does not preclude me noticing that there is very significant traffic already trying to use the Bowie Mill Road/MD-28/Redland Road route to get from West Olney into Rockville/Gaithersburg. And it will only get worse with the final development of the "Reserve at Fair Hill", there will be even more traffic.

It may make a lot of sense to start looking into a significant widening and perhaps some realignment of Muncaster Road/Redland Road, as well as improvements to MD-108 west of Olney at least as far as Muncaster Road. Some realignment and upgrading of Bowie Mill Road should also be considered.

One thing I could approve of in the stream valleys would be elevated light rail, as there's already a nearly perfect grade provided by nature. Yet for some reason we don't seem to see any provision for enhanced mass-transit of any type in the plans for the Montrose Parkway, for example.

Thomas Hardman said...

Oh, noted with some amusement:

> Anonymous Anonymous said...
> Boy am I glad we didn't elect Mr.
> Hardman here in District 4. He is
> turning up to be a real wacko.
> Proposing freeways through Rock Creek
> and Matthew Henson State Park. These
> roads will never happen, I mean never.
> We don't need any more wackos in
> Rockville to do anything crazy. WE
> NEED LIGHT RAIL NOW. Not road-oriented
> wanna-be politicans like Mr. Hardman

Ah, forwarded with significant grinning to Ms Nancy Floreen of the County Council, as she is one of the strongest advocates of a fully-extended Montrose Parkway and will probably be observed to get all perked up by the thought of an Upper Rock Creek Expressway connecting from an improved Redland Road and passing under the Intercounty Connector, to terminate at the improved intersection of MD-108 and MD-582.

MD-582, of course, could be extended to the intersection of Hipsley Mill Road and Jennings Chapel Road in Howard County. Howard County, of course, has no Rural Preservation zone, and that intersection sits in a wide open wilderness just begging for ten dozen developers to employ fifteen gajillion illegal aliens to build even more McMansions and even more Sprawl which will require even more Roads, etc etc. Oh, and as a bythought for the NIMBY envirowackjobs, we can run immense smog-belching biodeisel bus-trains up and down the length of it all so that the people commuting into Bethesda from Hipsley Mill can catch up on their laptop and cellphone tasks as they roll in comfort past the hoi-polloi in downscale Brookeville.

Anyone incapable of detecting my ironic tone should report to a mental healthcare facility and announce that they are Captain Wonder, defender of housepets, and refuse to leave until they save all the lab mice.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous GoHomeLexInVA said...

Lex, Maryland is Building the Intercounty Connector SUPERHIGHWAY that will link the business corridors of I-270 and BWI/I-95 to unite the state of Maryland as a ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT POWERHOUSE. The ICC will also enable the KONTERRA development which will build a new megacity south of Laurel. With quick movement on the PURPLE LINE and other light rail corridors in MD and DC, it is Maryland, not Virginia that is leading the way to relieve gridlock. Virginia is stuck in gridlock, literally and figuratively. Even if they build Metro to Dulles it will be in a highway median that discourages TOD. At Tysons the elevated track will rise far above the streets with most pedestrian activity on skywalks that are destined to failure. Failure is a word that defines Northern Virginia. Failure to diversify their economy beyond homeland security contractors and $20K/yr IT geeks. With no major scientific/research activity like Maryland has in biotechnology or at NIH or Johns Hopkins. Maryland has the economy of the future. Superior quality of life. Building urban development at our transit centers where we are currently building the equivalent of TWO Reston Town Centers within walking distance of each other at White Flint/Twinbrook. And working towards relieving our gridlock with MAJOR NEW HIGHWAY AND TRANSIT CONSTRUCTION while STAGNANT NORTHERN VIRGINIA FESTERS in their gridlocked car-loving paradise and a whole county has turned racist. How shameful. Thank God I do not live in Northern Virginia.
Hey Lex, maybe you should think about jumping ship. Leave that stink hole and come to the more prosperous side of the Potomac where you can find MAJOR NEW UPSCALE RETAIL, not just another KFC in some strip mall. Then again, you guys from PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY might like that.

Go Home to VA Lex. NOW!

July 17, 2008 2:33 AM

RE: Still typing the same BS and you call me crazy........

I don't have multiple personalities like you. I don't go into one Blog and claim to be a Marylander then go to an Urban Discussion forum and claim to be a Virginian that constantly Bad Mouth the State of Maryland in efforts to Discourage people from moving to Maryland and Encouraging Marylanders to move out of the state in hopes that they will move South between Virginia-Georgia-Texas............

Thomas Hardman said...

Hey, Anonymii,

Can you guys possibly quit with the ALL CAPS copypasta?

I might point out that NoVa has a terrible problem with having built amazing piles of tract housing without bothering to provide amenities in the form of either shopping or civic-systems infrastructure. If you live in the back end of Molassas, a KFC in a strip mall is an improvement over having nothing at all. The main problem is that here in MoCo we manage our growth because we're one of the most urbanized states and have been one of the most urbanized states longer than almost any other jurisdiction. NoVa is basically a bunch of farmers who sold their north 40 and all of a sudden have to deal with matters far outside of their experience. Maryland's sort of "paralysis through analysis" governmental style is alien to them; most of them still have Town Elders types of governments, very suitable to low-density low-tech agrarian communities. The sad part for them is that the political and business machines that work very well in Maryland will go to Virginia and steamroller right through their lightweight checks-and-balances and the next thing you know, you've got West Loudon county, where Ashburn looks like it was beamed down from space onto a colony world, without anyone bothering to install infrastructure or an economy. But anyone suggesting that MoCo or Maryland should let the development machine do the same here is just nuts. We don't have space for this sort of thing and we have a tradition of actually considering all of the options and taking our time about it. Sometimes that only slows down what we desperately need, but more often than not, it prevents horrible mistakes. Our unintended consequences tend to be smallish things that can be easily fixed, for the most part, whereas a lot of the things that Virginia has to deal with are things that will have to be dealt with over long times and at great cost and will be almost impossible to resolve.