On Saturday, Dec. 1, I was crossing Darnestown Road (at one of the crosswalks next to Rockafellas) with my brother. The law says that a pedestrian in the crosswalk who has the light also has the right of way. That means that drivers turning on red must stop for him or her if the pedestrian is close enough to make the maneuver potentially hazardous. It seems a certain driver did not know this, as he turned right on red straight in front of us, nearly hitting us with his car. As he turned, he was yelling and gesturing rudely at me. He then performed a U-turn and came back to helpfully yell at me that “A red light means don’t walk, you idiot!” I was too angry to point out that we had the green light to walk and thus the right of way. Not only that, but we were crossing cautiously and responsibly, not just walking through the crosswalk assuming it was safe.
Unfortunately, many of us who use this route have had far too many close calls where a driver ignores our right of way and nearly hits us, often with a rude gesture or profanities to go along with it. Many drivers stop in the middle of the crosswalks — I witnessed an incident where a driver slammed to a stop in the middle of the crosswalk when two sisters were crossing legally. The younger girl was right in the path of the car. Luckily, the older sister saw it coming and pulled her little sister out of the way with a half second to spare.
I understand there are jaywalkers, and I don’t speak for them. But it angers me that pedestrians crossing legally take so much abuse at the hands of motorists. I know not all drivers are this way, and I give a wholehearted thank-you to those who drive responsibly. So on behalf of my little brother, those two sisters, and any other pedestrian who faces constant danger and verbal abuse while crossing the street legally, I would like to ask the drivers that drive so irresponsibly and aggressively to remember that Gaithersburg is a “Character Counts” city and show a little more respect and caution on the road.
Nissi Powell, Gaithersburg