Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2007

Pedestrian injury prompts call for safer roads

Indian Spring residents request improvements after boy, 12, struck by car

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Residents of the Indian Spring neighborhood in Silver Spring are calling for pedestrian safety improvements along their roads in response to an incident last week in which a 12-year-old boy was hit by a car and hospitalized.

Neighbors say speed bumps, a new sidewalk along Franklin Avenue, streetlights and pedestrian signage could help make pedestrians more mindful of traffic and slow down drivers who use the neighborhood as a cut-through to avoid nearby Colesville Road and University Boulevard.

Gerardo Ayzanoa, the father of the boy who was hit, said this was not the first time since his family moved to Indian Spring in 1996 that a child has been involved in a collision.

Ayzanoa said Tuesday his son, Pablo, is awaiting evaluation at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he could remain for at least the next two weeks. Since the accident last week, Pablo was treated for a skull fracture and broken leg, and spent several days in intensive care at Children’s National Medical Center in the District.

‘‘I don’t want to ask him a lot of questions, but he said he looked both sides, and the car came out of nowhere,” Ayzanoa said.

Pablo was hit by a car while crossing Franklin Avenue at Seminole Street about 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27, said Officer Melanie Hadley, a spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Police Department.

A citation was issued to the driver of the vehicle, John Jenkins, 27, of Takoma Park, who was found at fault for the accident. The collision report did not specify what the ticket was for, said Lucille Baur, a spokeswoman for county police. Baur said Jenkins has not been criminally charged.

Raquel Montenegro, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1990 and has a 12-year-old son who is friends with Pablo, said she remembers at least two other crashes since she has lived in Indian Spring. But what needs to be done to make the area safer could be as much about educating the public as making physical improvements to the roads.

‘‘I think, as a community, we just need to take that extra 30 seconds to a minute we save speeding and just slow down,” she said.

Jennifer Chambers, an Indian Spring resident working on a Silver Spring-wide pedestrian safety initiative with Prezco, an umbrella group of 12 Silver Spring associations, said Prezco has been gathering community input on what to add to their list of pedestrian safety improvement requests.

Prezco sent a neighborhood-by-neighborhood chart to County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) and the County Council last summer on projects they deemed most important in making Silver Spring safer for drivers and pedestrians. Leggett is scheduled to present a countywide pedestrian safety initiative of his own today to reduce the number of pedestrian collisions and make the county more walker-friendly.

That plan should also address new ways of meeting the ‘‘many, many requests” from county residents concerned by dangerous roads in their neighborhoods, said Esther Bowring, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation.

Since the collision, Prezco has been pushing a capital improvements proposal for a new sidewalk along Franklin Avenue, said Andrew Kleine, Prezco’s chairman and an Indian Spring resident.

Bowring said the DPWT has already put in a work order to re-stripe a crosswalk at Franklin Avenue and Seminole Street, and is looking at lighting in the neighborhood to determine whether more changes need to be made. The department also is considering a ‘‘paddle sign” in the roadway to remind drivers to yield to pedestrians, she said.

Walter Gottleib, president of the Indian Spring Citizens Association, said the neighborhood group was working with Prezco to coordinate their pedestrian safety efforts.

‘‘We’re definitely thinking about it, and want to take action,” he said. ‘‘As a driver, when I cross Franklin, it feels somewhat dangerous. And as a pedestrian, even more so.”

‘‘Anything that needs to be done, needs to be done,” Ayzanoa said. ‘‘We are very, very lucky that this was not a tragedy of major proportions.”