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:

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