Montgomery Planning Pedestrian Improvements
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett announced this morning that intensive efforts will begin this fall to improve safety at one of the county's most dangerous stretches of road.
This was the first of what will become an string of announcements over the next eight days about Montgomery's efforts to improve pedestrian safety.
Leggett made this first announcement at a parking lot in Silver Spring that's alongside the first target for attention: the section of Piney Branch Road between Flower avenue and the Montgomery/Prince George's line. With 22 pedestrian collisions from 2005 through 2007, this area had the highest concentration of pedestrian collisions in Montgomery County.
It includes the intersection of University Boulevard and Piney Branch, two wide commuter routes with plenty of driveways, businesses, apartment buildings, bus stops -- many of the elements that put autos and walkers into dangerous proximity.
Traffic moves fast through this very busy area. There's plenty of turning traffic. Drivers and pedestrians really have to keep their eyes open. And the pedestrians aren't always giving themselves the best chance. I saw two women who could have walked just about 20 feet to the relative safety of a crosswalk choose instead to take a shortcut through six lanes of traffic.
The county has designed this section of Piney Branch as a "High Incidence Area." Using a strategy that sounds similar to what the District is doing with its high priority safety corridors, the county government will apply the three E's -- engineering, education and enforcement -- to improve safety in the zone. The state government will help, particularly at the University-Piney Branch intersection.
The county and the state will select a team of experts to develop safety measures appropriate for Piney Branch, while county police target both motorists and pedestrians who behave unsafely.
The engineering improvements could include new countdown signals, sidewalk improvements, better lighting, new signs and pavement markings, bump-outs and refuge islands. Some of that would look similar to what the county did on upper Connecticut Avenue last year and on Arcola Avenue this summer.
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