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The taming of the stroad?

December 1, 2022, 10:00 AM

About three weeks after the accident that claimed my HR-V, I read on The MoCo Show about another accident that occurred on the same stretch of road at Russell Avenue, a block away from where my accident happened, that looked very similar to mine.  Additionally, I remember an accident that occurred at the same intersection as mine in May 2020 that Elyse and I encountered while we were out and called in to 911.  Taken together, it tells me that Montgomery Village Avenue (MD 124) between Interstate 270 and Midcounty Highway is a poorly designed road that probably needs to be rethought and redesigned in order to increase safety along that stretch.

For those not familiar, Montgomery Village Avenue, along with quite a number of other roads in Montgomery County, is what is often referred to as a “stroad“.  Wikipedia defines a stroad as “a type of thoroughfare that is a mix between a street and a road”, and the word itself is a combination of the words “street” and “road”.  Basically, it’s a road that wants to function as a local city street and as a major highway all at once, and often fails at both roles.  These roads are typically designed for relatively high speeds, but their functioning as a city street with pedestrians and so many private accesses means that the posted speed limits are typically well below the road’s design speed.  Do you remember that Journal entry that I wrote in 2013 about people who were getting run over at bus stops in Montgomery County?  All of the streets in question were stroads.  Georgia Avenue in particular is the textbook definition of a stroad, being a six-lane divided highway with private access, including single-family residential, directly off of the main road from Silver Spring to all the way to Olney.  The speed limit for much of that road is 35 mph from Silver Spring to Leisure World, with a posted speed of 25 mph through Wheaton.  I speak from experience from ten years’ time living just off of Georgia Avenue that it is very difficult to maintain that speed limit when traffic is moving well, and I often found myself exceeding the speed limit without realizing it and then having to slow down once I do notice.  That’s because the road is designed for much higher speeds than traffic is actually allowed to go, and people tend to drive in a way that befits the road design, especially during off hours.  They say that if you can speed on a road and not realize it, and not feel that your higher-than-allowed speed is actually dangerous, then the speed limit is too low for the design of the road.  In other words, the usual go-to argument of, “LoWeR aLl ThE sPeEd LiMiTs!” is a major non-starter for me, if because the speed limit was already too low for the design of the road, and people weren’t following it anyway, what’s the point of lowering it further?  They weren’t following it when it was 35, so what makes you think that they’re going to follow it at 25?  I also find the way that people are so quick to blame drivers 100% for accidents to be problematic, because the design of the road can also be a legitimate contributing factor to accidents, such as roads that are designed for much higher speeds than anyone probably ought to drive.  It’s kind of like how the “no u-turn” sign is often a symptom of poor road design, because with a better-designed road, you wouldn’t need signage that disallows obvious and mostly reasonable moves to get around the poor road design.

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May the HR-V rest in peace…

October 20, 2022, 8:32 AM

In the early morning on October 9, I was involved in a car accident on the way home from work.  At the intersection of Montgomery Village Avenue and Christopher Avenue/Lost Knife Road in Gaithersburg, the driver of a red Nissan Pathfinder on Christopher Avenue ran a red light at what appeared to be full speed as I was going through the intersection, and despite my slamming on the brakes, there just wasn’t enough space to stop in order to avoid a collision.  As a result, my car got T-boned on the left side on the front fender and the driver’s door, with enough force to deploy the side curtain airbags and knock my car about 150 feet before it came to rest next to a curb.

After the impact, I remember that I was sitting in the car and noticed that the airbags had gone off, and also noticed that the windshield was shatered at the bottom left.  Then I remember hearing a male voice telling me that I needed to get out of the car.  I quickly realized that would probably be a good idea, because considering that the car had just gone through a pretty hard collision, for all I knew, it might be on fire.  I tried to open my door, but I couldn’t get it open, so I ended up climbing out through the passenger side door.  I was quite shaken, I was bleeding above my left eye, my left knee felt sore like it had been scraped, and I wasn’t wearing my glasses anymore for some reason, but nonetheless, I had managed to walk away from it.  Then I saw the person who had been telling me that I needed to get out of the car.  It was a gentleman wearing black eye makeup (kind of like what the band Kiss does) from an event that he had been at earlier from who was also an EMT, and who had witnessed the entire thing.  He also quickly told me that the accident was absolutely not my fault, which I appreciated hearing.  There was also a woman present who had witnessed the accident, who also agreed that I was not at fault.  One of them must have also called 911, because I certainly didn’t, but the police and EMS were there pretty quickly.

When EMS arrived, they quickly took care of me, wrapping some gauze around my head for the bleeding, and taking my blood pressure.  Yes, they took my blood pressure.  I’m standing on the side of the road next to my now-wrecked car, visibly shaking from the accident, and then the guy tells me that my blood pressure is “kind of high”, coming in at 172/116.  I did not need to be told that.  I’m usually pretty nice, but I just shot back, in a pretty sarcastic tone, “Gee, I wonder why.”  He removed the blood pressure cuff from my arm and went away.  Yeah, I just survived a pretty major car accident, got hit by an airbag, had to crawl out the other side of my car, was bleeding from my head, had no glasses, and was shaking.  My blood pressure is high?  No kidding.  I would have been more surprised if it was 120/80 right then rather than some astronomical amount.  I refused transport, feeling that it was unnecessary.  Then the cops got my information, and took my statement.  I also let Elyse know what had happened, and she quickly got an Uber to take her to the scene.

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Shooting macro with a new phone…

March 5, 2022, 6:10 PM

At the end of February, I got myself a new phone: a Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra.  This is the latest and the greatest as far as Samsung phones go, as of the time of this writing.  I typically get a top-of-the-line phone for myself, mostly because of how much I use it for photography.  I also like a big phone screen, especially now that I am in middle age, and have to hold things further away from my face in order to read them clearly.  This new phone was a bit of an update compared to my last phone, the Galaxy S20 Ultra.  It still looks and acts like a Samsung phone, so there was very little learning curve, but it’s faster, easier to read, has a better camera, and has the S-Pen (which I had not had since 2017, back when I had a Note 5).  Most importantly, though, the camera is much better than the S20.  The S20 Ultra’s camera was a bit farsighted.  It did just fine photographing things that were far away, but it couldn’t focus if you got really close to it (sounds like me!).  So in order to get the proper effect, you had to back up and then zoom in.  It wasn’t perfect, but it worked well enough.  Sounds like when I need a magnifying glass in order to read the fine print sometimes.

So with the new phone in hand, Elyse and I went out, and I took it for a spin while running some errands.  I was interested in trying out the improved macro function, and focused on shooting things really close up.  We got together with my friend Matthew, and he got to see me do my thing, getting up, on, over, and around everything while Elyse did the things that she needed to do.

Our first stop was Fair Oaks Mall, where Elyse wanted to go to BoxLunch, which is a gift shop.  I had assumed that BoxLunch was a restaurant, i.e. a place where you can buy a boxed lunch (imagine my surprise to find out that they didn’t sell food!).  While Elyse was going around there, Matthew and I waited outside, where I took the new phone camera through its paces in the mall, focusing on the details in the sitting area just outside of BoxLunch:

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