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.