The new flex posts prevent vehicles from traveling in the two outside lanes on Little Falls Parkway at the Capital Crescent Trail Crossing in Bethesda. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
The Montgomery County parks department has nearly completed installing dozens of flex posts on Little Falls Parkway near its intersection with the Capital Crescent Trail in Bethesda, reducing the roadway to two lanes where a Chevy Chase cyclist was killed in October.
Previously, the roadway consisted of four lanes—two in each direction—which meant up to four drivers had to stop if a pedestrian or cyclist on the trail wanted to cross the road. With the new flex posts, the road has been trimmed to one inside lane in each direction, a move the parks department said would improve safety.
Cars traveling in northbound lanes now have a merge just before the intersection of Little Falls Parkway and Hillandale Road. Credit: Andrew Metcalf
Former University of Maryland professor Ned Gaylin, 81, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle Oct. 17 while crossing the parkway on a recumbent three-wheeled cycle. Police later determined Gaylin failed to stop at the crossing before entering the roadway and no charges were filed against the driver in the case.
The flex posts begin in the parkway’s outside northbound lane just before the Hillandale Road intersection—forcing vehicles to merge as they approach the intersection. The posts on the southbound side begin before the Arlington Road intersection. There are electronic signs near both merges that let motorists know about the new traffic pattern.
On Friday, a work crew was installing the remaining flex posts. One of the workers said the posts had been installed over the past two days.
Greg Billing, executive director of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association, said the changes show a commitment by Montgomery County to alter the design of a dangerous intersection. He said the temporary fixes also present an opportunity for the county to evaluate the impact on traffic and trail users before moving forward on a permanent road redesign that could cost millions of dollars.
“We are deeply appreciative of the parks department recognizing the need to make a rapid change here,” Billing said.
Motorists approach on southbound Little Falls Parkway merge well before the Arlington Road intersection. Credit: Andrew Metcalf