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: