Gaithersburg, Germantown area students hit by cars
This story was corrected at 4 p.m. Dec. 8. Please see bottom of the story for an explanation of the changes.
Since Nov. 7, at least two schoolchildren have been hit by cars on their way to a school in the Northwest High School feeder area.
At 7:30 a.m. Nov. 23, a female Roberto Clemente Middle School student was struck by a car after darting into traffic on Waring Station Road, said Angela Cruz, a Montgomery County Police spokeswoman.
Two weeks earlier, a student was struck at Lakelands Park Middle School.
The Roberto Clemente student, who was conscious and alert when police arrived, was taken to Children's Hospital in Washington, D.C., Cruz said.
The girl was expected to recover, Khadija Barkley, principal at Roberto Clemente, wrote in a statement that day. Barkley recommended parents and guardians use the opportunity to speak with their children about pedestrian safety.
Barkley did not return calls for comment.
Dana Tofig, Montgomery County Public Schools spokesman, said the collision was unfortunate.
"We do what we can with the resources we have to help students crossing the street," Tofig said. "Students have to observe safety procedures."
Additional signs, such as those stating that fines double in a school zone, are needed in front of Roberto Clemente, according to Tom Pogue, county Department of Public Works and Transportation spokesman.
Pogue said the county also is considering measures such as speed cameras to slow traffic on Waring Station Road as it turns into Wisteria Drive.
Meeting follows collision
Before school on Nov. 8, at Lakelands Park Middle School in Gaithersburg, a boy riding a bike across the crosswalk on Bright Meadow Road was swiped by a car, according to Deb Higdon, Lakelands Park's principal.
The driver stopped and reported the incident. Montgomery County Police and emergency responders examined the student and said he was fine, Higdon said.
On Nov. 19, Lakelands Park administrators and representatives of the Northwest cluster's PTSA, the City of Gaithersburg and Gaithersburg Police met to discuss pedestrian safety at Lakelands, the only school in the cluster located in Gaithersburg.
City and police representatives said they would study traffic within a two-mile radius of the school and report back within 30 to 40 days, Higdon said.
Greg Ossont, Gaithersburg planning director, attended the meeting. He said the public works department will study speed and volume to determine if more stop signs are needed. Improvements could also include additional lane markings, signs, traffic control or reconstruction of student drop-off and pick-up zones, Ossont said.
"With all of our minds together, we can come up with a solution," Higdon said, "something as simple as a crossing guard at strategic points at the school."
A student was hit outside Northwest High School in Germantown the week of Nov. 8, according to Beth Kennington, a PTSA Northwest Cluster coordinator. She could provide no details.
Jimmy D'Andrea, acting principal at Northwest High School, refused to comment.
Eight of the 11 schools in the Northwest Cluster are slated for pedestrian safety reevaluation, Pogue said.
After studies in 2002, traffic enforcement improvements were made at each school, Pogue said. Those studies included only the front of the school, but the upcoming studies will extend three or four blocks.
The county examines traffic engineering data from around the school such as crosswalks that are not well marked and caution signs overgrown with foliage, as well as the Montgomery County Police Department's annual traffic accident report, Pogue said.
So far this year 53 people have been involved in pedestrian accidents in Montgomery County's sixth district, which covers parts of the Northwest Cluster, Montgomery County police spokeswoman Blanca Kling said. The district's accidents double those in the fifth district, which covers Montgomery Village, where only 21 people have been involved in pedestrian accidents so far this year.
Montgomery County averages about 450 pedestrian collisions a year, according to police.
At Kingsview Middle School, parents hope to find solutions before a collision occurs.
Some parents are worried about traffic once construction connects Father Hurley Boulevard to Germantown Road, Kennington said.
Calvin Johnson, of Germantown, is concerned about the safety of his son and other students who cross Germantown Road. He said he may no longer let his son Joseph, a sixth-grader at Kingsview, walk to school.
"I've been concerned about the walking patterns for some time now," Johnson said. "And now here comes this major highway making the walking route for our children extremely dangerous, and there are no plans to provide any additional pedestrian safety measures at this intersection."
Johnson said he talked to the PTSA and his community association about the issue, and wrote letters to County Councilman Mike Knapp.
The PTSA has formally requested that the county board of education give additional attention to pedestrian safety, Kennington said.
"We need to change the culture on the roadways to leave no second guessing about our children's safety," she said.
This story should have stated there have been a total of 53 accidents so far this year involving pedestrians in Montgomery County's 6th district and 21 accidents involving pedestrians in the 5th district. It also should have stated a collision involving a boy who was hit while riding a bike across the crosswalk in front of Lakelands Park Middle School occurred on Bright Meadow Lane.