Montgomery County sees increase in pedestrian safety

I am a little late finding this news but a press release from Montgomery County highlighting measurable reductions in pedestrian collisions is fantastic! Thanks to Jeff Dunckel, pedestrian safety coordinator for the County for calling my attention to this work.

Montgomery County’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative put in place by County Executive Isiah Leggett has seven strategies:

Strategy 1: Target pedestrian safety improvements in High Incidence Areas
Strategy 2: Assess and improve pedestrian network and connectivity needs
Strategy 3: Increase emphasis on pedestrians and bicyclists in the planning process
Strategy 4: Identify and implement corridor and intersection modifications and traffic calming treatments
Strategy 5: Upgrade pedestrian signals
Strategy 6: Assess and enhance street lighting
Strategy 7: Modify pedestrian and driver behavior through enhanced enforcement and educational efforts

At a recent CountyStat review results from the Pedestrian Safety Initiative were presented.

  • Pedestrian collisions around schools with the highest number of collisions were reduced from 1.45 to .4 incidences per year. The Safe Routes to School program focused engineering improvements at 129 schools.  Education and encouragement activities supported the engineering improvements to achieve the reduction in collisions.
  • Pedestrian collisions per 100,000 residents decreased from 46.7 to 40.5 between 2005 and 2011.
  • Pedestrian collisions in High Incidence Areas have decreased from 10 percent to 7 percent (2008-2011).
  • Speeds were decreased up to 11 miles per hour due to traffic calming such as bump-outs, pedestrian refuge islands and enhanced signage.

This is a great example of recognizing an issue, deciding priorities and targeting resources. The High Incidence Areas (HIA) for example, are areas with a density of collisions. A safety audit helps to identify needed improvements and resources are targeted to the HIAs. Schools in the Safe Routes to School program have also been audited and prioritized.

Numbers are really important. They help us show the work we do matters. And numbers help to show the need for more resources for pedestrians and bicyclists. With about 30% of traffic fatalities in the Greater Washington region, we have the numbers that show a problem. It is vital to also have the numbers to show improvements work.

The most important part is students and community members are safer.

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