This post has been updated
The town of Glen Echo is a lovely little place with a grand total of 255 residents. The town is known mostly for Glen Echo Park, a retired amusement park with a wonderful antique carousel that my children love. Saying the words “Glen Echo” to any Montgomery County child is almost like saying the word “candy.”
But if Mayor Debbie Beers gets her way, I have a hunch the town will come to have a more infamous reputation: The first Maryland locality with a stop sign camera.
Beers, according to the Washington Examiner, has written state and county officials about amending state law to allow stop sign cameras. Maryland only allows red light and speed cameras, which are almost universally despised both here and around the country.
(Earlier this summer, a Howard County man was arrested for allegedly launching glass marbles at a speed camera van with a sling shot.)
The stop sign where she wants to post the camera is at University Avenue and Oxford Road, near the entrance of Glen Echo Park.
Wednesday morning I discovered a remarkable bit of civic reconnaissance in the town’s meeting minutes. Late last year, residents Willem Polak and Andy Malmgren set up a camera to study driver behavior at the intersection during a 14-day period.
Drivers behaved very, very badly: “Approximately 81% of all vehicles, ran the stop sign,” the minutes said.
One would think that having a police officer there would help. One would be mistaken.
“With a police officer at that location, 65 percent of all vehicles ran the same stop sign,” the minutes said.
“While they are writing tickets for one person, three more are running the stop sign,” Beers told me. (Glen Echo uses county police for patrols. And it doesn’t reap the revenue from traffic tickets, another problem the mayor wants to solve.)
Dogs near the intersection didn’t stop people either. Or children.
“Even with children, dogs, dog walkers and skate boarders, the rate of stop sign running was constant,” the minutes said. “In some cases, the cars did not slow but merely drove around pedestrian obstacles.”
Polak was apparently quite serious about this problem. He mentioned to town officials at the meeting that a red light camera made by Redflex Traffic Solutions would cost $5,000. I looked up their product and found it here.
The REDFLEXstop has been used on U.S. streets since 2007, and it apparently is a quite wonderful and dandy machine.
“REDFLEXstop monitors multiple traffic phases, to suit all protected-turn lanes,” the company says. “It is applicable to remote areas to monitor straight, through and right-turn lanes, as well as traffic at ‘no right turn on red’ and ‘stop and go on red’ traffic.”
Sounds just like what some Glen Echo residents think they need. I suspect others will disagree.
Beers says many residents are simply fed up, and she knows she’s stepping into controversial waters with a stop sign camera. She said she’s been told by state officials that the red light cameras are so controversial that adding another camera option would be difficult.
Beers is willing to try.
“We are at our wits end trying to get people to stop at this stop sign,” she said.