Pedestrian Collisions Decrease
A CountyStat review of Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative showed that county efforts to improve pedestrian safety are having a positive effect. Since 2005, pedestrian collisions per 100,000 residents have fallen from 46.7 in 2005 to 40.5 in 2011, and the severity of those collisions decreased.
The reductions in collisions are most notable in the county’s High Incidence Areas (locations targeted as having the highest density of collisions), areas around schools improved under the Safe Routes to Schools program and locations where traffic calming measures have been completed.
“In 2007, my Pedestrian Safety Initiative outlined a blueprint for reducing pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County, and I am gratified that the plan appears to be working,” said Leggett. “Through engineering, education and enforcement, as well as a broad partnership between residents, county departments and agencies, and the State Highway Administration, the number of pedestrian collisions and their severity are trending downward, particularly in the areas that need the most help. We are setting an example for all of Maryland that targeted interventions really can make a difference in reducing the number of pedestrians who are injured or killed.”
Since the first High Incidence Areas (HIA) safety audit was conducted on Piney Branch Road in 2008, HIA collisions as a percent of total pedestrian collisions in the County decreased from 10 percent to seven percent in 2011. HIA safety audits identify ways to improve pedestrian safety along a specific road corridor. A total of 10 HIAs have been audited: portions of Piney Branch Road, Wisconsin Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Rockville Pike, Four Corners, Reedie Drive, Randolph Road, Colesville Road, Connecticut Avenue, and most recently, Old Georgetown Road. Most of these areas are along State roads, so the County and the Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) are working as partners to improve pedestrian safety. Education and enforcement actions are also being targeted at these areas, in an effort to reduce dangerous behaviors that that put pedestrians at risk.
Improving pedestrian safety in HIAs takes time and continues incrementally. 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 means that they are being completed in stages over several years. This staged process also allows the county to leverage State projects, such as resurfacing, to more cost effectively complete needed changes.
One of the biggest successes of the Initiative has been the Safe Routes to School program where engineering improvements at 129 schools, bolstered by education and enforcement actions, have significantly reduced pedestrian collisions. The collision rate dropped from 1.45 to .4 incidents a year at some of the areas around schools with the highest number of collisions.
Another important tool in improving pedestrian safety is traffic calming efforts that reduced speeding on arterial and primary residential roads by as much as 11 miles per hour. Speed is directly linked to collisions and injury severity, so slowing traffic to the posted speed limits can both reduce collisions and significantly reduce the severity of injuries for those who are struck. The Montgomery County Department of Transportation uses treatments such as pedestrian refuge islands, bump-outs and curb extensions, chokers, enhanced signage and markings, speed humps and modified edgelines to calm traffic.
During three-quarters of fiscal year 2012, the county constructed a total of 3.2 miles of new sidewalks, 518 curb ramps to meet Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements, 1.5 miles of new bus stop-related sidewalks and improvements to 273 bus stops.
CountyStat conducts periodic reviews of the components of the Pedestrian Safety Initiative that have played a critical and valuable role in the program. By reviewing data, the county works to assure that effective strategies are being employed to improve pedestrian safety. These reviews provide vital information on how to most efficiently target resources to reduce the number of pedestrian collisions in the county.
The full CountyStat presentation is available at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/countystat.