Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at www.nih.gov/nihrecord/index.htm (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.
Feedback: Is anyone monitoring the flow of vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic at the newly designed employee entrance at North Dr.? Since the entrance re-opened, I have had several close calls with employee vehicles switching lanes without looking after turning into the entrance from 355, pedestrians entering from the bus stop on 355 without stopping and looking and bicycles just passing through to the right of the driveway without stopping. The security booth blocks the view from the left and the bicycle path crosses the driveway while making the turn into campus to the right. Something bad is going to happen!
Response from the Office of Research Services: After your inquiry, the NIH Police launched additional monitoring of this entrance. Based on their findings, they were able to see, firsthand, many of the problems you have identified along with some new concerns and recommend the following resolutions.
There are no lane markers on the entire driveway leading up to the location of the card readers. Without these markers, drivers could potentially, arbitrarily and unsafely, switch lanes. As a solution, NIH will ask contractors to paint a lane divider down the center of the roadway.
Pedestrians are leaving the bus stop and entering the vehicle lanes without looking where they are going. Although there is a crosswalk at this location, it is not painted with large white lines and hashes as would be customary for the rest of the campus. As a solution, NIH will ask contractors to properly paint the crosswalk to encourage safer behavior for both pedestrians and drivers.
Finally, bicycles are indeed passing by North Dr. without stopping. According to Maryland Vehicle Law 21 1209 d, bicyclists have the right-of-way when they are in designated bike lanes. Although there is a designated bike path crossing North Dr. represented by brick pavers, there is nothing else in place that would alert drivers to the fact that this is a bike lane and a driver would need to yield at this location. As a solution, NIH will support installation of additional signage specifically instructing motorists to yield to bicyclists.
Feedback: On a Monday at 5 p.m., I left my car on the main campus and rode with my husband and friend to attend an event downtown. We returned to campus after 11 p.m. to retrieve my car. Unfortunately for us, I didn’t think to direct them through the Metro entrance. Instead, we drove through the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility entrance normally reserved for visitors. I told the attendant I was there to pick up my car and told him where it was parked. He scanned my badge and told me to wait in the car. He then told my husband and friend to exit the car while it was searched. The attendant then told them to empty their pockets, produce ID and wait 20 minutes to have visitor passes (with photos) issued to them. Why do we waste the taxpayer’s money issuing visitor passes to people who are not visiting the campus? Why do we insist on this process when they can enter on foot via the Metro or by car at the Kiss ’n Ride lot? By scanning my badge, doesn’t NIH create a record of me entering the campus after hours? Doesn’t that scan link to the NED or an ORS system to reveal my work location and whether I have access to the main campus buildings in order to pose a threat? As it turns out, I work off-campus in an administrative job and was on campus that day for a late meeting. Could the guards be educated/trained to perform an initial risk assessment and waive the requirement to issue a visitor pass to people who accompany an employee? If it wasn’t dark at that hour, I could have walked to my car and driven off campus in the same amount of time it took to create visitor passes. If NIH does not wish to allow employees to drive 5 minutes to retrieve a car parked legitimately, perhaps it could keep a golf cart or ATV at the station in order to permit an attendant to drive employees to their destination. On the plus side, the attendants were very nice and respectful and we were polite and cooperative (albeit frustrated).
Response from ORS: In reading this inquiry, it appears that the employee wanted to bring some visitors on to campus via the Commercial Vehicle Inspection Facility. Although this feedback inquiry has what appears to be conflicting information in it, the basic premise still remains that all visitors are required to go through a minimum level of security screening before gaining admittance to the NIH main campus, regardless of whether they are being accompanied by an NIH employee or entering campus alone and irrespective of the amount of time the visitors anticipate being on campus. This remains the case whether they are entering campus in a vehicle or as a pedestrian.
If employees know they will have visitors accompanying them to NIH, with at least 24 hours advance notice they can apply for an Advance Accompanied Visitor Pass (www.security.nih.gov/staff/Pages/AAVP.aspx). This process allows NIH to conduct background screening in advance of the visit, saving time and allowing visitors accompanying an employee to enter through any open employee or visitor entrance.
This inquiry also provides a suggestion that NIH provide a golf cart or ATV at the inspection station so a guard could drive an employee to his/her destination on campus. NIH does not view this as a wise use of resources. NIH operates shuttles during normal business hours to facilitate the movement of employees and patients on and off campus.
Feedback: At the vehicular entrance to campus at Old Georgetown Rd. and Lincoln Dr., there is a plastic speed bump right before the badge reader. No other entrances have a speed bump right before the badge reader. As I have a stick-shift car, it is inconvenient to slow down for the speed bump, then speed up to get to the badge reader, all while getting out my badge for the badge reader. This speed bump should be removed.
Response from ORS: While the speed bumps may be inconvenient, they add a needed safety measure. They were installed at the Lincoln Dr./Old Georgetown Rd. and North Dr./Rockville Pike entrances and will remain due to greater concerns for police officer and security guard safety and protection of resources at those locations.