Monday, July 25, 2016

Take me out to the ballgame

Yesterday evening my dad and I attended a Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts baseball game.  The Thunderbolts were playing the Gaithersburg Giants in the first round of the playoffs in the Cal Ripken League.  While the Thunderbolts have played at Blair Stadium here in Four Corners since 2002, I somehow hadn't attended a game until tonight.  I'm very glad I did, since it was a great experience.

The Thunderbolts banner along the fence of the bullpen.  All photos by the author.

Who are the Thunderbolts?

The Silver Spring-Takoma Thunderbolts are a wooden bat collegiate baseball league.  They are a charter member of the Cal Ripken League, where they play against teams including the Bethesda Big Train, the Rockville Express, and the Gaithersburg Giants.  The team consists of college ballplayers who play in the summer to keep their skills sharp, and ideally, to get noticed by MLB scouts.  Players are recruited from colleges across the country in the fall prior to the summer season, which runs from early June to late July.     

Players from outside of the D.C. area live with host families for the summer while they play for the club, in a similar manner to exchange student programs.  During the seven week season, the team plays nearly every day, similar to the schedule of a prop team.  The season also includes an all-star game during the first week of July, in which several Thunderbolts participated.      

Monday, July 18, 2016

Crossing Beltway ramps could be safer

If you've ever driven to the College Park Ikea on the Beltway from around here, you've used the ramp from I-495 to U.S. Route 1 north.  While that cloverleaf ramp in College Park may seem mundane, there is something interesting about it.

Despite the presence of a generous merge lane from the ramp onto Route 1 northbound, many drivers stop at the top of the ramp, and most slow down significantly.  Why slow down (or stop) if there's plenty of room to merge onto Route 1?  Why not just continue at 30 or 40 MPH off the ramp and onto the road?  This seemingly inconsequential highway off-ramp can teach us quite a bit about pedestrian safety at highway interchanges.

The ramp where it meets Route 1.  Despite the merge lane, most drivers stop or slow down before entering Route 1.  Photo by the author.

The reason so many drivers stop or slow down as they exit this ramp onto Route 1 is the angle at which the ramp meets the road.  In the mid-2000s, as part of the Ikea project, the State Highway Administration (SHA) wanted to create more merge room for motorists merging northbound onto Route 1 from the Beltway, to both improve access to the store and improve traffic flow on this part of Baltimore Avenue.    

Friday, July 1, 2016

Forgotten subdivisions of Woodmoor

Last week we wrote about Indian Spring Village, a subdivision that comprises about half of the Woodmoor neighborhood.  This week, we'll look at some of the smaller subdivisions that are also part of Woodmoor.  There are five of them: Indian Spring Highlands, Indian Spring Knolls, North Takoma Highlands, Warrenton Village, and Franklin Knolls.  Each one is shown on the interactive map below.