Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Leggett Launches Spanish/English Pedestrian Safety Education Campaign; First Story Installment of Graphic Novel Style Ads Conveys Serious Message about Staying Safe While Crossing the Street

Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today launched a new public education campaign about the consequences of failing to practice safe pedestrian behaviors. The ads use an eye-catching graphic novel format in both English and Spanish. The first in a series, the ads appear on Ride On buses and in bus shelters located in the first five High Incidence Areas (HIAs) designated by the County as having the highest concentrations of pedestrian collisions. The event initiating the campaign was held along Piney Branch Road in Silver Spring where significant engineering improvements have been made between Flower and New Hampshire avenues.

“Since we first identified Piney Branch Road as the area in the County with the highest number of pedestrian
collisions, we have made massive engineering improvements to make it a place where pedestrians feel safe crossing the street,” said Leggett. “Our next step today is the launch of an education and enforcement campaign to ensure that pedestrians and drivers take full advantage of the new safety features. We are using a creative, colorful and innovative graphic novel approach to educate drivers and pedestrians in both Spanish and English. We hope this eye-catching ad series will help reduce collisions among those at highest risk in the locations at greatest risk.”

Mr. Leggett poses in front of new pedestrian safety ad with children from New Hampshire Estates Elementary School
Mr. Leggett poses in front of new pedestrian safety
ad with children from New Hampshire Estates
 Elementary School
The graphic novel ad has two messages: Maryland state law requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks and those who don’t use crosswalks are putting themselves at risk. The ad features characters named Maria and Marco in a scene in which Marco fails to use a crosswalk -- with dire consequences.
“This Spanish language pedestrian safety campaign is a step in the right direction to improve this community’s ability to understand how to safely travel,” said Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “As Council President last year, I am pleased we increased funding for outreach efforts by the Public Information Office and the Department of Transportation to strengthen pedestrian safety programs for the Spanish-speaking community.”

“Esta campaña de seguridad peatonal en español es un paso en la dirección correcta para que la comunidad conozca mejor sobre seguridad peatonal y así reducir y evitar accidentes,” dijo Montgomery County Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro. “Como presidenta del Consejo este término pasado, estoy orgullosa de que pudimos aumentar fondos a programas llevados a cabo por la Oficina de Información Pública y el Departamento de Trasporte que benefician y fortalecen la seguridad peatonal de la comunidad hispanohablante.”

The new ads can be seen in bus shelters
and interior and exterior bus ads
in Montgomery County
The ad concept stems from continuing concerns that, despite “3E” (engineering, enforcement and education) efforts, some pedestrians and drivers do not practice safe behaviors. Drivers should stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, slow down, stay alert and avoid driving while distracted. Pedestrians should take advantage of the physical improvements that have been made in the HIA areas by waiting for the walk signal, watching for turning vehicles and crossing at the crosswalk.

Since 2009 when improvements began, HIA pedestrian collisions have declined 43 percent in the County. HIAs comprise less than one percent of the County’s roadways, yet 11 percent of the County’s pedestrian crashes occur in them. The first group of HIAs includes portions of Piney Branch Road, Four Corners, Reedie Drive, Randolph Road at Veirs Mill Road and Connecticut Avenue at Aspen Hill Road. Most of the HIAs are along State roads, so the County and the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) are working as partners to improve pedestrian safety. SHA is now using an approach statewide that is modeled on Montgomery County’s success by targeting 3E efforts where the greatest number of pedestrian crashes is occurring.

MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes, Jr.
and Pedestrian Safety Education Specialist
Joana Conklin pose with "Maria"
Improving pedestrian safety in HIAs takes time and continues incrementally. HIA safety audits identify ways to improve pedestrian safety along a specific road corridor. Pedestrian projects recommended through the audit process cannot all be implemented at once. The range, cost and coordination required to implement the HIA engineering improvements requires that they be completed in stages over several years. This staged process also allows the County to leverage other State projects, such as resurfacing, to more cost effectively complete needed changes.

The engineering improvements installed along Piney Branch Road include enhanced signs; modified signal timing; re-striped or modified crosswalks; new turn restrictions; upgraded sidewalks and ADA ramps between Flower and Greenwood avenues; installation of 12 new and 22 upgraded streetlights between University Boulevard and New Hampshire Avenue; installation of pedestrian countdown signals at Piney Branch Road, Carroll Avenue and Arliss Street; upgraded sidewalks and ADA ramps between Greenwood Avenue and Arliss Street; and installation of two pedestrian refuge islands with hazard identification beacons. Future improvements will include upgraded traffic signals at Greenwood, Arliss and Barron streets.

To see the full story of Maria and Marco, visit or  More information about the County’s pedestrian safety program is available on the website at

News Stories on the Campaign Launch:

Voice of America

The Gazette


The Sentinel


Transportation Update Video 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

National Study Reveals More K-8 Children Are Walking to School

New research from the National Center for Safe Routes to School – based on parent survey data collected by nearly 4,700 U.S. schools from 2007 to 2012 – shows that more K-8 students are walking to and from school across the country.

According to the data, the percentage of K-8 children who walked to school in the morning increased from 12.4 percent to 15.7 percent (representing a 27 percent increase). Similarly, the percentage of K-8 children who walked from school in the afternoon increased from 15.8 percent to 19.7 percent (representing a 24 percent increase). Another significant finding of this research was that the percentage of parents who reported that their child’s school supporting walking and bicycling for the school commute rose from 24.9 percent to 33 percent.

The full report, "Trends in Walking and Bicycling to School from 2007 to 2012," analyzed parent survey data collected by nearly 4,700 schools located in all states and DC from 2007 through 2012. For the full report, visit the National Center for Safe Routes to School's website. MCDOT's Safe Routes to School program routinely surveys local schools in partnership with the State of Maryland through its SRTS grants to the County.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Heads Up in Parking Lots: Don’t run over people. Don’t get run over.

In 2012, there were 423 reported pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County. Of these collisions, 125, or about 30 percent, occurred in parking lots and garages – a 39 percent increase in one year and the third consecutive year that collisions in parking lots increased. What’s worse, nearly 20 percent of these collisions resulted in devastating injuries - about the same as occurred in countywide road collisions.

What Are We Doing About It?

Montgomery County is getting the word out to the public about pedestrian collisions in parking lots. Most people are very surprised to learn just how widespread these collisions are and how many of them cause severe injuries. We hope that educating both drivers and pedestrians can help change their attitudes and behaviors in parking lots.

How You Can Help

  • Practice safe walking and driving in parking lots and garages – Safety Tips (English - pdf | Español - pdf).
  • Use social media and ask your friends to join the conversation about ways to stay safe.
  • Spread the word to your civic association, business group, school community, religious organization, etc.
To see more resources on parking lot safety, visit the Heads Up webpage.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bicyclists Parking at Metro Urged to Register Their Bikes

Metro Transit Police offer a free online registration service for bike riders who park their bikes at Metro facilities. Providing the make, model, serial number, color and frame size of the bike will assist Transit Police in identifying and recovering a bicycle if it is stolen or lost.

Police urge riders to practice basic security measures, such as locking their bike to an authorized rack (not a sign post or fence), keeping a copy of the bike’s serial number on hand, and hiding a business or index card with the owner’s name and phone number inside the bike frame.

To register your bicycle with Metro, visit their website.

Study: More Older Drivers Distracted by Smartphones

While younger people remain the undisputed champions of distracted driving, older drivers may be catching up, according to a report issued last week. State Farm Insurance's annual distracted driving survey cites a "growing safety concern" -- a sharp increase in smartphone ownership by drivers 30 and older. And while states have focused on banning texting while driving, and in some cases have also banned hand-held cell phone use, another distractive behavior is filling the void. The percentage of drivers who said they use their phone to access the Internet while driving has nearly doubled, from 13% in 2009 to 24% in this year's survey.

The number of drivers between ages 30 and 39 who own smartphones has gone from 60% to 86% in the past two years, matching the percentage of 18- to 29-year-olds who own them, according to the survey. Big increases also are found in older age ranges: smartphone ownership among 40- to 49-year-olds grew from 47% in 2011 to 82% this year; among those 50 to 64 the percentage rose from 44% to 64%.

(Source: The Pittsburg Post-Gazette, November 13, 2013, as cited in the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety eNewsletter, 11/19/2013.)

Friday, October 25, 2013

As Seasonal Time Change Approaches, Drivers and Pedestrians Urged to Look Out for Each Other

Dark conditions are dangerous for pedestrians

The months of October, November and December are the scariest time of the year for pedestrians in Montgomery County because pedestrian collisions have typically spiked during these months by nearly 40 percent. With the end of daylight savings time on November 3, less daylight hours contribute to the problem. According to federal safety officials, 70 percent of pedestrian fatalities happen during the night time hours.

“Montgomery County is committed to pedestrian safety, and over the past few years, we have engaged in an aggressive program to reduce collisions through engineering efforts and enhanced enforcement and education,” said Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett. “But, we cannot do it all alone. We need drivers to slow down, pay attention and look out for pedestrians. We need pedestrians to be vigilant, on guard and undistracted. We need everyone to be engaged to make sure that crossing the street is not a death defying act.”

This week, the regional Street Smart Campaign launched its fall campaign to raise awareness in drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Last year in the Washington region, 72 pedestrians and bicyclists died in traffic collisions. Montgomery County averages more than 400 pedestrian collisions a year.

In 2007, Leggett introduced an aggressive pedestrian safety initiative that is investing millions of dollars in safety improvements – and these improvements are making a difference. The County is also working in partnership with the Maryland State Highway Administration to address collisions on State roads (roads in the County that are numbered), which are the busiest corridors in the County.

Drivers are urged to help improve pedestrian safety and keep in mind the following:

  • Pedestrians can be nearly invisible in the dark and in bad weather.
  • Pedestrians may be unpredictable. Be aware and be prepared to stop.
  • Slow down and obey the posted speed limits.
  • Don’t drive distracted – when in the car, focus only on driving.
  • Be patient, especially when young children, seniors or persons with disabilities are present.

Pedestrians are urged to do their part by practicing the following safety tips:

  • Remain vigilant when crossing the street.
  • Cross the street at signals, marked crosswalks and intersections. Don’t step off the curb without looking left, right and then left again.
  • Be alert for drivers who aren’t paying attention. Doing everything right – crossing with a walk signal and in the crosswalk – is not enough to guarantee safety.
  • Don’t count on drivers to see you or react in time.
  • Get off the cell phone and stop texting – don’t walk when distracted.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather.

More safety information is available on the County’s pedestrian safety website.

To view a press release from AAA on this issue, please click here.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Local Officials Urge Drivers, Pedestrians, and Cyclists To Look Out for Each Other

Montgomery County Pedestrian Safety
Coordinator, Jeff Dunckel, introduced the
Fall 2013 StreetSmart campaign
Street Smart Campaign Aims to Reduce Injuries and Deaths During Dark Fall Months

With Daylight Savings Time ending on November 3, school back in session, and Halloween around the corner, regional safety officials came together today to remind drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists to pay extra attention to one another on area roadways.  

An hour less of daylight during evening commutes means reduced visibility, which typically leads to an increase in crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists during the darker autumn months. To reduce pedestrian and cyclist injuries and fatalities, the annual Street Smart public education campaign is encouraging area residents to be more alert. Last year, in November and December there were more than 400 crashes involving pedestrians in the Washington metro region.

A lone trumpeter remains after
other members of the Roaring Bengal
Marching Band have left the park,
in recognition of the 72 pedestrians
killed in the region in 2012.
Representatives from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, as well as state and local officials from the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia, gathered today at Upper Senate Park in Washington, DC to kick off the fall Street Smart campaign. Special guest Gwendolyn Ward shared the story of her 15-year-old daughter, Christina Morris-Ward, who was struck by a car and killed one year ago this month while crossing the street in Germantown on her way to school in the dark. Also attending was the Roaring Bengal Marching Band from James Hubert Blake High School in Montgomery County, which played a mournful dirge in recognition of the 72 pedestrians and cyclists killed in the region last year.

Gwendolyn Ward shares the
story of her daughter, Christina, who
was killed while crossing Germantown
Road on Halloween morning, 2012.
As the band played, a bell tolled in recognition of each pedestrian killed in 2012. With each ringing of the bell, a single band member ceased playing his or her instrument and left the instrument on the ground. The song ended with a lone trumpeter playing amid a sea of abandoned instruments.

“We all have to work together to improve safety in our region particularly now that it’s getting dark by the time many people are making their evening commutes,” said Chuck Bean, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. “Drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians need to follow traffic laws, be aware of their surroundings, and avoid distractions, such as cell phones.” Among other safety tips, the Street Smart campaign reminds drivers to be alert and yield to those on foot or on bicycles at intersections, and encourages pedestrians and cyclists to wear light colors or reflective clothing to be more visible.

Bean announced that law enforcement in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia will conduct increased enforcement October 28 through November 24, ticketing drivers, cyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic safety laws.

For Safety Tips and More Information on the StreetSmart campaign, visit  

Click on the links below for media coverage of the event:

Belvoir Eagle
Bethesda Now
FOX DC    
The Gazette (1)          The Gazette (2)
GO Montgomery!
Washington Hispanic
WJLA (1)          WJLA (2)  
WTOP (1)         WTOP (2)          WTOP (3)          WTOP (audio)

MCDOT to construct dual bikeway on Woodglen Drive

Beginning this fall, MCDOT will start construction of a dual bikeway along a portion of Woodglen Drive that includes: 

  • An eight-foot, off-road, shared use bikepath on the west side of Woodglen Drive between Edson and Nicholson lanes in North Bethesda; 
  • An on-road, six-foot-wide bike lane on the east side of Woodglen Drive (in the northbound travel lane); and 
  • An on-road shared lane, or “sharrow” on the west side of Woodglen Drive (in the southbound travel lane). 

Sharrows are pavement markings that alert motorists to the presence of bicyclists and encourage safer passing practices. 

The Woodglen dual bikeway will provide an important link to the Bethesda Trolley Trail and access to Metro stations, retail and neighborhood activity centers in the Rockville and North Bethesda areas. 

In Maryland, bicycles are classified as vehicles and are permitted on any road where the speed limit is posted at 50 mph or below. The on-road bicycle lanes will require the removal of six metered parking spaces along Woodglen Drive. Travel lanes will be narrowed for the sharrow. 

To enhance safety, discourage speeding and alert motorists to those using the path, curb extenders will be built at the intersection of Executive Boulevard and Woodglen Drive.

For more information on bicycle infrastructure projects, visit MCDOT's bikeways website. For information on Bikesharing in Montgomery County, visit MCDOT's bikesharing website.

Friday, October 18, 2013

National Transportation Safety Board Uses Local Site to Promote Safety Tips

Person walking on sidewalk
Recently National Transportation Safety Board Acting Chair Deborah Hersman joined County safety officials to highlight important rules of the road and safety tips for motorists, bikers, and walkers. Here’s a few to remember. 

For drivers, stay alert and slow down.  Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. It is against the law to text or hold your phone while driving. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash. Scan between parked cars and other objects along the roadway for children and pedestrians. Take extra time when making a right turn on red, so you can be on the lookout for walkers and bicyclists.

For pedestrians, cross the street at corners, use traffic signals and crosswalks, and look left, right and left again before crossing.

If traveling by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it’s the law in Maryland.

For more information, visit MCDOT's pedestrian and bicycle websites. For a video of this message, visit our blog.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

County Council Pedestrian Safety Program Update Highlights Improvements to Pedestrian Safety

On September 24, 2013, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation presented to the County Council updates from the successful Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Programs. The programs use data-driven approaches to increase bicycle and pedestrian safety throughout the county.
The Bicycle Safety Program completed evaluations of BikeShare routes, the most recent addition to the county’s extensive transportation network, to address challenges the county’s existing roadways pose for bikers. After thorough analysis of potential bike routes, many bicycle  engineering improvements were made to both on-road and off-road facilities across the county.
The Pedestrian Safety Initiative, introduced in December 2007, coordinates engineering, education and enforcement efforts to change pedestrian and driver behavior. The program uses a data-driven approach to target efforts in areas with the highest rates of pedestrian collisions, also known as High Incidence Areas (HIAs). Engineering efforts in HIAs include: sidewalk improvement, intersection and signal reconstruction, pedestrian refuge construction, street lighting, and curb markings.  Since beginning program implementation in 2009, pedestrian collisions in these HIAs have decreased by 43%. 
Traffic calming, another major part of the Pedestrian Safety Initiative, has reduced collision rates by 50% by reducing speeds to posted speed limits.
The Safe Routes to School program conducted comprehensive school zone traffic safety assessments in over 160 schools and subsequently implemented engineering, education and enforcement actions. Since 2009, there has been a 79% reduction in the number of pedestrian collisions within a ¼ mile radius of these schools.
Following the data-driven methodology, education efforts have been modified to reflect recent data trends. From 2010 to 2012, there have been 172 pedestrian collisions within ½ mile of Montgomery County’s High Schools, of which 30 involved 13-18 year olds. This fall, the county is launching a High School Pedestrian Safety Education Campaign, which analyzes crash data to target and work directly with high schools’ administration and staff.
In 2012, there was a 39% increase in the number of pedestrian collisions in parking lots and garages; representing 30% of all the county’s pedestrian collisions. The county has launched the Parking Lot Pedestrian Safety Education Campaign, which works directly with the private property owners and managers operating parking lots to raise public awareness of the need exercise caution and to keep “Heads Up” in Parking Lots. 
Enforcement efforts, led by the Montgomery County Police Department, have given out 600 warnings and 1,600 citations in HIAs to drivers and pedestrians, while over 80 warnings and 400 citations have been given out through crosswalk sting operations. Recent results in the enforcement efforts show increased court support for citations, media’s expanded role in raising awareness, citations being more effective over warnings, and residents being active in participating in pre-enforcement education activities. Since 2011, when expanded enforcement efforts began, there has been an increase in drivers found at fault in pedestrian collisions and a decrease in pedestrians found at fault: drivers are found at fault in 59% of reported pedestrian collisions.

As serious pedestrian collisions have continued to decrease where actions have been targeted, the County continues to focus on improving safe bicycle access on county roads, and coordinating enforcement, education and engineering efforts to improve pedestrian safety. Also, the county continues to cooperate and coordinate their efforts with the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee. 
To view the presentation, click below:

Friday, September 27, 2013

Leggett Announces Availability of First Montgomery County Bikeshare Stations; Program is First Bikeshare in Maryland

New Capital Bikeshare Station in Rockville
New Capital Bikeshare Station in Rockville
On September 27, Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett celebrated the grand opening of the County’s Bikeshare Network, launching the first installment of 51 Bikeshare stations and 450 bikes in Bethesda, Friendship Heights, Silver Spring, Takoma Park, Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center area. Montgomery County’s Bikeshare program is the first year-round system in Maryland and is part of the regional Capital Bikeshare network, linking the County with the District of Columbia, Arlington and Alexandria’s Bikeshare systems.

Ike Leggett at grand opening of County's Bikeshare Network
County Executive Ike Leggett at grand opening of County's 
Bikeshare Network
Leggett made the announcement in Rockville at one of the 21 stations in the Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences area designed to encourage low income reverse commuters and job trainees. Those who qualify will receive a free, one-year membership in Capital Bikeshare that will enable them to use any Bikeshare station in Montgomery County, as well as receive a free bike helmet, safety training and route planning assistance.

Bikesharing provides short-term bicycle rentals at self-service, automated, solar-powered docking stations sited at publicly accessible locations. Bikes may be picked up at one location and returned to another, creating a system that allows for one-way trips. Bikeshare is considered ideal for short trips of less than five miles. Trips under 30 minutes are included in the membership fee, while longer trips are charged based on their duration.

Membership options cost $75 a year, $25 a month, $15 for three days and $7 for one day. Yearly and monthly memberships can be purchased online or by phone, while the three-day and one-day memberships can be purchased with a credit card at any Capital Bikeshare station.  Also, free bike safety classes are being offered: click here for more information.

Over the next few weeks, the remaining Montgomery County stations will open. More information and a map showing installed stations in the County is available at  Visit  for more information on the entire regional system. For information on eligibility for free Bikeshare memberships and JARC program benefits, contact Montgomery County Commuter Services at 240-777-8380 or

MCDOT Director Arthur Holmes, Jr. and 
County Team with the new bikes
Read the full press release here: 

To read the County Council's press release, click here.  

Click here to view a video about the bikeshare system launch.  

Friday, September 20, 2013

Silver Spring Jazz Festival and Taste of Bethesda Attendees Pledge for Pedestrian Safety

The crosswalk covered in pedestrian and driver safety pledges.
The Pedestrian and Driver Pledge Crosswalk
At the Silver Spring Jazz Festival on September 7 and the Taste of Bethesda on October 5, over 200 people pledged to make Montgomery County safer for pedestrians. Kids and adults chose to make either the driver or the pedestrian pledge.

Participants of all ages made the pedestrian safety pledge
Participants of all ages made the pledge
Drivers pledged to:

  • Stop for pedestrians in crosswalks
  • Obey all traffic signals and signs
  • Watch for pedestrians while turning
  • Drive at the speed limit
  • Drive without texting or talking on the phone
Pedestrians pledged to:

  • Always use crosswalks
  • Cross with the "walk" symbol
  • Wear bright at night
  • Make eye contact with drivers
  • Walk without texting
  • Look for cars in all directions before crossing
Participants decorated a foot for the pedestrian pledge, or eyes for the driver pledge and added them to the crosswalk. The completed crosswalk shows how engaged and dedicated our residents are to increasing safety on our roads.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Teens Continue to be at Risk Crossing Streets while Texting

High school students can't put their phones down, even when crossing a dangerous street. A new study quantifies just how often kids walk while distracted by technology. According to Safe Kids Worldwide,one in five high school students and one in eight middle school students cross the street while doing something with a digital device.

Pedestrian injuries among teenagers in particular have been on the rise, increasing 25% in the last five years in the 16-19 year-old age group. Crossing streets while staring at a screen is one suggested reason. Listening to music and texting were the top distractions. Thirty-nine percent of the students who were crossing the street while distracted were typing on a cell phone and another 39% were listening to headphones. Girls were a little more likely to walk distracted than boys but only just barely.
(Source:, August 29, 2013 as cited in the NETS eNewsletter, September, 2013. To see the full article, go to the WNYC website.)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

State begins safety and resurfacing project on Georgia Avenue/MD97

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $4.6 million safety and resurfacing project along nearly two miles of MD97 (Georgia Avenue) from the Washington, D.C. line to MD390 (16th Street) in Silver Spring. Weather Permitting, the work will be completed by late fall. Motorists and pedestrians traveling in this area should plan ahead, add extra commute time and be aware of shifting traffic and walking patterns.

The work will:
  • Reconstruct existing sidewalks to ensure they meet ADA standards and are at least five feet wide;
  • Repair and replace existing inlets and pipes;
  • Patch damaged sections of pavement prior to resurfacing;
  • Install new curb and gutter;
  • Resurfacing Georgia Avenue;
  • Replace traffic signal pavement detectors at the intersection of MD 97 and MD 390; and
  • Install new line striping and pavement markings.
SHA's contractor is permitted to close one lane of Georgia Avenue in both directions weekdays between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and up to two lanes overnight Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Drivers are urged to stay alert and look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. For more information, see SHA's press release.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Safety Tips from the Department of Fire and Rescue Services

With school back in session, Fire Chief Charlie Lohr urges motorists to "Slow Down, Watch Out. Kids Ahead!"  His department offers a series of Back to School Safety Tips

For Drivers 
• Be alert and slow down. Eliminate any distractions inside your car so you can concentrate on the road and your surroundings. Put down your phone and never text while driving. Looking away from the roadway for just two seconds doubles the chance of being involved in a crash.
• Passengers should wear a seat belt and/or ride in an age and size-appropriate car safety seat or booster seat. Children of all ages are safest when properly restrained in the backseat of a vehicle.
• Exercise extra caution as you head out to work and be on the lookout for school buses. Many bus routes or schedules change each year and you may encounter a school bus or stop where you may have never seen one before.
• Scan between parked cars. Nearly 40 percent of child pedestrian fatalities occurred between the hours of 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., mostly at non-intersection locations, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children can quickly dart out between parked cars or other objects along the roadway. Motorists should pay close attention not only at intersections, but along any residential roadways where children could be present.
• Take extra time when making a right turn on a red light and be on the lookout for pedestrians.
• School Zones: Slow down and be especially alert in residential neighborhoods and around schools. Be alert to children as you back your vehicle out of your driveway or exit your garage.
• Expect delays near schools, plan ahead and allow extra time to reach your destination.
• Safety on the road is especially important for “new” drivers that may be driving to school for the first time.

For Parents and Children 
• Be realistic about your child’s pedestrian skills. Children are not always aware of their surroundings and may dart into traffic assuming drivers will see and stop for them. Carefully consider whether your child is ready to walk to school or wait for the bus without adult supervision and walk the route with your child beforehand.
• Teach children to always cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks and look left, right and left again before crossing. Children may have difficulty gauging the distance and speed of an approaching car, and may not recognize and react to potentially hazardous situations.
• If traveling to school by bike, obey the rules of the road and wear a helmet. Not only is it the smart thing to do, it is also the law in Maryland.
• Be sure that your child knows his or her phone number and address, your work number and when to call 911 for emergencies.
• Only drive or park in authorized areas when picking up or dropping off students at school.
• Be a good neighbor. Respect private property and always be on your best behavior while waiting for the bus.

See DFRS's press release for other safety information affecting kids.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Seven Locks sidewalk project adds to County's pedestrian infrastructure

MCDOT’s Division of Transportation Engineering recently installed a mile and a quarter of new sidewalk along Seven Locks Road. In response to a request from the president of the Montgomery Square Civic Association, MCDOT replaced a series of asphalt and dirt paths between Montrose Road and Tuckerman Lane. This project included the installation of ADA compliant ramps, selected driveway aprons, and new, five foot wide concrete sidewalk panels.

This sidewalk project, costing about $270,000, provides a safe and convenient connection for pedestrians to synagogues, churches, retail stores, and other activity centers. MCDOT’s Sidewalk Program provides such funding to expand the sidewalk network throughout the county. Concurrently, the Division of Highway Services is also resurfacing this same segment of Seven Locks Road. They will be milling and patching the pavement where needed, applying a layer of hot mix asphalt, then re-striping the road. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Federal and County Officials Urge Parents to Talk About Safely Getting to School

by Aaron Kraut 

Federal and county officials on Thursday urged parents and students to think about safe driving and walking to school before the MCPS school year starts on Aug. 26.  Click here to view a video of the event.  
Deborah Hersman, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D), Montgomery County Police Capt. Tom Didone and MCPS Director of Transportation Todd Watkins spoke at the Fitzgerald Auto Mall in North Bethesda about the dangers kids face on the roads once the school year starts.
The dealership and service center was hosting one of its regular car seat check events, in which Fitzgerald founder Jack Fitzgerald said volunteers and police have checked more than 44,000 car seats for proper fit and safety.
Safe Kids Montgomery County demonstrated how to safely cross a street with basic tips Van Hollen said often go unmentioned before the first day of school.
“That is the responsibility of the communities and families and students to work together,” Van Hollen said. “As our kids head off to school and they’re back looking for all sorts of supplies for school, [make sure] that we also supply them with the information that they need and their families with the information they need to make sure that they’re safe.”
In Bethesda, pedestrian safety around Bethesda Elementary School has been an issue since February, when a child in a stroller crossing an Arlington Road crosswalk was struck and dragged by a car making a turn. The child was uninjured.
A group of parents at the school started a petition for better markings, “No Turn on Red” signs and speed cameras in and around the intersection of Arlington Road and Edgemoor Lane.

A group of transit and pedestrian advocates followed with 10 recommendations to the Montgomery County Department of Transportation for new traffic engineering measures.
Didone, who heads the police department’s Traffic Division, said police this year have shifted their focus from changing pedestrians’ behavior to changing drivers’ behavior. The department has recently done a number of undercover stings in popular crosswalks to ticket drivers who don’t yield. Officers ran the operation on Wednesday at the Cordell Avenue crosswalk on Old Georgetown Road.
“The one unique thing about this is every time a car and a pedestrian try to occupy the same space, the pedestrian loses every time,” Didone said. “It’s the largest winning streak that’s ever occurred. As such, every one of those crashes is potentially life-threatening so every one of those crashes has to be addressed.
The Action Committee for Transit, which issued the recommendations to the county, on Thursday complimented Didone’s and police for their work. But the group claimed the Department of Transportation was still behind when it comes to engineering safe roads and intersections for pedestrians around schools.
“Traffic engineers need remedial education even more than schoolchildren,” ACT President Tina Slater said in the release. ”In our county, speed limits are too high, lanes are too wide, crosswalks aren’t marked, and unsafe turns are allowed. Cars should move no faster than 20 mph in school zones.”
Besides lowering speed limits in school zones, ACT is asking the county to consider leading pedestrian intervals at intersections — which would give pedestrians an exclusive window to cross in all directions — and more “No Turn on Red” signs.
Didone said the county is adequately dealing with the situation with a combination of engineering, education and enforcement.
“We are fortunate in Montgomery County, our Department of Transportation is on top of this,” Didone said. “Whenever we go into a problem area, we always start with looking to see those engineering changes — signs, signals, markings, changing the design of the roadway to enhance pedestrian safety.”
Watkins, who oversees the school system’s bus network, reminded drivers to stop when school buses are flashing lights and have stop sign extensions out.
The county recently installed cameras on some buses to catch drivers who maneuver around the buses stopped at bus stops.
“When you see a stopped school bus on the road, no matter how late you are, no matter how much of a hurry you’re in, stop,” Watkins said. “Because every time somebody makes a decision to pass a stopped school bus, it’s a potentially life-changing tragedy for some student and their family.”

Monday, August 12, 2013

Officials and Community Celebrate Completion of Shady Grove Access Bike Path

County Executive Leggett, left, poses with members of the community and Bruce Johnston, right, MCDOT division chief
County Executive Leggett, left, with members of the community and Bruce Johnston, right, MCDOT division chief at new bikeway
Coming BikeSharing program also noted

County Executive Leggett recently celebrated the completion of the 10-foot wide Shady Grove Metro Access Bike Path. It improves bike access to the Metro Station and facilitates combining bicycle trips with buses, Metro, and walking. The bike path also connects to other area sidewalks and bikeways, including along Crabbs Branch Way. MCDOT is planning to add a bikeway along Needwood Road, connecting to the Rock Creek and ICC trails.

The $2.7 million project was constructed by DOT’s Division of Transportation Engineering, and runs from Shady Grove Road to Redland Road. A pedestrian-activated traffic signal was installed where the bikeway crosses the Metro access road.

To further enhance biking, the County will soon be installing a bike share station at the Metro --part of a network of over 50 stations in Shady Grove, Rockville, Bethesda, downtown Silver Spring and Takoma Park.
For more information on bicycle projects and bike sharing, visit our MCDOT's website or call for projects,240.777.7244, and for bike sharing, 240.777.7170

Friday, August 9, 2013

SHA Completes Resurfacing on MD 355 in Bethesda beginning this Sunday Night

Motorists Should Expect Traffic Impacts on Wisconsin Avenue Through Late Fall

Travelers in Bethesda will have a smoother ride by late fall as construction crews complete the final phase of pavement resurfacing on two sections of MD 355 as part of two ongoing safety projects.   Beginning this Sunday night, August 11, the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) will resurface several sections of MD 355 (Wisconsin Avenue) in Bethesda, Montgomery County. The total cost of the two projects, which are approximately 1.5 miles apart, is $2.9 million. Weather permitting, the projects should both be complete by late fall.

SHA will resurface one mile of MD 355 from Montgomery Avenue to Jones Bridge Road and more than a mile of MD 355 from the Washington, D.C. line and MD 191 (Bradley Boulevard).  The project will improve conditions for motorists and pedestrians on MD 355 in the heart of Bethesda. To date, curb and gutter, sidewalk, ADA-compliant sidewalk ramps, drainage improvements and traffic signal adjustments have been completed on both projects.  Crews will also replace the signal systems at Wisconsin Circle and Battery Lane.

“The final surface, new sidewalks and improved drainage provide a refreshed and safer corridor for those who live and work in the area,” said SHA Administrator Melinda B. Peters. . “We thank motorists and pedestrians for their patience as crews work to complete these projects.”

During resurfacing on both projects, crews may close up to two lanes on MD 355, overnight Sunday through Thursday, between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. and one lane, Monday through Friday, between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. All work is weather permitting.

As part of the resurfacing work on both projects, SHA will remove the top layer of pavement, patch, grind and resurface all lanes, reconstruct traffic signals at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Circle and apply new pavement markings. The traffic signal reconstruction work at Battery Lane and Wisconsin Circle will add audible countdown signals (APS) and countdown pedestrian signals (CPS) to each intersection. New mast arms and signal heads will be installed at the reconstructed signal at Wisconsin Circle.

On average, 67,000 vehicles travel daily within the limits of both projects inside the Wisconsin Avenue corridor in Bethesda. SHA’s contractor for the work is M. Luis Construction Company of Baltimore, which will coordinate lanes closures between both projects.

SHA will maintain access for pedestrians and residents during the road work for both projects. Residents and travelers are advised that equipment used for construction can be loud and disruptive.

Motorists should make alternate parking arrangements along MD 355 within the project limits through late fall as parking will be temporarily unavailable during resurfacing work within the work zones. The pair of resurfacing projects are located along the same MD 355 corridor where SHA is currently working to complete utility relocations for a Bethesda Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) project between Cedar Lane and Jones Bridge Road.

This project was made possible with funding from the Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act of 2013, which maintains crucial system preservation investments and allows Maryland to activate long-term strategies to invest in Maryland’s transportation systems. By putting people back to work in the transportation industry with $4.4 billion in new investments in the next six years, Maryland is creating hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity and providing Marylanders with the transportation infrastructure necessary to grow and prosper for decades to come.

As crews work to keep work zones safe, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert – look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers. Slow down and don’t follow too closely. Safer Driving. Safer Work Zones. For Everyone!

State begins safety and resurfacing project on Georgia Avenue/MD 97

The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) has begun a $4.6 million safety and resurfacing project along nearly two miles of MD 97 (Georgia Avenue) from the Washington, D.C. line to MD 390 (16th Street) in Silver Spring.  Weather permitting, the work will be completed by late fall, 2013.  Motorists and pedestrians traveling in this area should plan ahead, add extra commute time, and be aware of shifting traffic and walking patterns.

The work includes:
• Reconstructing existing sidewalks to five feet wide to become ADA-compliant;
• Repairing, replacing existing inlets and pipes;
• Concrete patching of sections of damaged pavement prior to resurfacing;
• Installing new curb and gutter;
• Resurfacing Georgia Avenue;
• Replacing traffic signal pavement detectors at the intersection of MD 97 and MD 390;
• Installing new line striping and pavement markings.

SHA’s contractor is permitted to close one lane in both directions of Georgia Ave., weekdays, between 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and up to two lanes overnight, Sunday through Thursday, between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. 

SHA will use electronic message boards, temporary fencing, construction cones and barrels, arrow boards and flaggers to direct motorists through the work zone. As crews work to keep work zones safe, each driver needs to actively modify his or her driving style to help prevent crashes. Stay alert – look for reduced speed limits, narrow driving lanes and highway workers.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Leggett Celebrates Pedestrian Safety Improvements in Wheaton; Thanks Wheaton Pedestrian Volunteers for their Efforts to Educate Public

Leggett Celebrates Reedie Streetscape Project and Thanks Pedestrian Safety Volunteers
County Executive Isiah Leggett Celebrates Completion of Pedestrian Safety Improvements on Reedie Drive and Thanks Pedestrian Safety Volunteers
New crosswalk on Reedie DriveOn August 6, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett today celebrated the completion of pedestrian safety improvements on Reedie Drive between Veirs Mill Road and Georgia Avenue in Wheaton that were installed by the Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT). This 800-foot stretch of road was targeted because it was designated as one of the County’s “High Incidence Areas” (HIAs) -- locations having the highest density of pedestrian collisions. Between January 1, 2004 and December 31, 2012, there were 20 pedestrian collisions including one fatality in the Reedie Drive HIA.

New planters on Reedie DriveIn addition, Leggett thanked Vincente Lopez, Carolyn Gupta, Betty Smith and Bettye Blakeney who were representing a group of 30 Spanish- and English-speaking pedestrian safety advocates who have been conducting education activities in Wheaton/Aspen Hill for 15 months. Lopez was featured in a Spanish language YouTube story about the volunteers. Several of the volunteers were also instrumental in working with the State of Maryland to have a new signal installed at the intersection of Veirs Mill Road and Claridge Road to improve pedestrian safety in this heavily traveled area.

New median on Reedie DriveThe volunteer brigade was formed following a community meeting held by MCDOT to engage residents in the Wheaton/Aspen Hill area in pedestrian safety education. The group represents the Hispanic/Latino community as well as several neighborhood civic associations, including Connecticut Avenue Estates, Montclair Manor and Rock Creek Palisades. Trained by MCDOT, the volunteers also work with County Police and the Maryland Highway Safety Office.

Click here to read the more detailed press release about this event.  To see a Transportation Update summarizing the event, click here.

WJLA Event Coverage

Wheaton Patch Event Coverage

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Annual Maryland Driver Survey Now Available

Maryland Motor Vehicle Association Highway Safety Office logo

The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration's (MVA's) Highway Safety Office is interested in getting public input on awareness of highway safety messages and personal driving related behavior.  Annually, the MVA conducts a survey of licensed drivers within the state.  This survey seeks to gain information regarding drivers' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors as it relates to highway safety practices.  The survey focuses on highway safety issues, including seat belts, pedestrian safety, impaired driving, speeding, motorcycles, and distracted driving.  Feedback provided by the survey will help to shape highway safety programs within the state.  If you are a licensed Maryland driver, we would be very grateful if you would take a few minutes to complete a short survey.  Please be assured that this survey is anonymous.  Click here to complete the survey.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

National Bike to School Day Shatters Previous Participation Mark

From all 50 states and the District of Columbia, tens of thousands of school children across the country biked to school throughout the month of May as part of the second annual National Bike to School Day.  In all, 1,705 schools registered Bike to School Day events—80 percent more than the inaugural national event in 2012—setting a new National Bike to School Day record.

Montgomery County schools participated in the second annual event.  Bike to School Day at
Bike to School Day activities at Piney Branch Elementary School
Piney Branch Elementary School was one of several Bike Month events in Takoma Park.  Over 150 students rode bikes or scooters to school on May 22.  Students from two third grade classes acted as Bike Safety Ambassadors. They created and distributed promotional materials, helped with helmet fitting and organized the bike valet parking. Safe Kids provided helmets for distribution to students in need. 

“In March, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institute told the National Bike Summit that societal trends are favoring bicycling, that at this moment there is a tremendous bicycle wave rolling through America,” said Lauren Marchetti, director of the National Center for Safe Routes to School, which coordinates National Bike to School Day. “If the success of our second annual Bike to School Day is any indication, I’d say Mr. Katz is on to something.”
For more information, see the National Center for Safe Routes to School's website.  Also see MCDOT's Safe Routes to School website for more tips on safe walking and biking to county schools.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Public Education Meetings Held on Bikeshare Program Coming to County

Photo of bikeshare bike
Photo of a Bikeshare bike

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) hosted three public meetings in June on the extension of the Capital Bikeshare program into Montgomery County. Bikesharing allows travelers to rent a bike from on-street stations and drop it off at other stations within the bikeshare network.

The following meetings focused on selected urban centers of Montgomery County where bikesharing stations will be installed in late summer 2013. However, information on bikesharing throughout the County was also available at each meeting. 

  • Bikeshare in Bethesda and Friendship Heights: June 24, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center, 4805 Edgemoor La., 2nd Floor 

  • Bikeshare in Silver Spring and Takoma Park: June 25, Fire Station 1, 8110 Georgia Avenue, 3rd Floor, Silver Spring; and

  • Bikeshare in Rockville, Shady Grove and the Life Sciences Center: June 26, Executive Office Building Lobby Auditorium, 101 Monroe St., Rockville.
For more information on Bikeshare in Montgomery County, visit the new Bikeshare website at