2020 was marked by another unfortunate milestone with 18 pedestrians and cyclists killed in traffic incidents in Montgomery County. It is clear that the county and state must do more to make walking and biking safer in all of our communities.
Join Montgomery County Councilmember At-Large Evan Glass and Congressman Anthony Brown Saturday, January 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. for a virtual Vision Zero conference to discuss road safety, the county’s efforts to implement Vision Zero and how residents can best advocate for safer streets. The event is co-sponsored by the MCCPTA, CASA de Maryland, Washington Area Bicyclists Association, Action Committee for Transit, Sierra Club Montgomery County, and the Coalition for Smarter Growth.
These traffic fatalities are preventable, and we as a county must do more to make our streets and roads safer for all.
Do you use a cut-through to get to your destination faster? If so, the Planning Board wants to hear about it. Use theirnew online pedestrian shortcut map to tell them! Your feedback will help them make recommendations for the Pedestrian Master Plan. We know there are lots of them in the White Flint area.
The map is part of the county’s first Pedestrian Master Plan aimed at making walking and rolling safer, more comfortable, convenient and accessible for pedestrians of all ages and abilities in all parts of the county. It is also an effort to understand what informal pedestrian connections – apparent in trodden grass, dirt or gravel on public or private property – exist in Montgomery County.
Join Friends of White Flint and other organizations on Saturday, February 8 at 2:15 pm at Federal Plaza along Rockville Pike to rally for safe streets and remember Michael Gamboa who tragically dies crossing Rockville Pike.
Planning Board approves funding of the Predictive Safety Analysis project as part of the department’s commitment to Vision Zero
The Montgomery County Planning Department presented its Vision Zero work plan to the Planning Board at their January 23 meeting and received approval to fund and launch their Predictive Safety Analysis project. While most crash analysis looks at where crashes have recently occurred, this project seeks to prevent serious injury or fatal crashes at locations without a recent history of crashes, but that share similar features to areas where serious injury or fatal crashes have occurred.
The Predictive Safety Analysis tool will use statistical analysis to allow planners and county agencies to target resources to receive the most improvement for the roadways identified as having high risk for future crashes.
“Montgomery Planning is focused on supporting the County’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and severe injuries,” said Transportation Supervisor David Anspacher. “We are working closely with our colleagues at the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration to plan and design roads, sidewalks and bikeways that make it safe for all modes of transportation.”
Vision Zero represents a fundamental change in thinking about roadway planning and design priorities: changing the focus from vehicular mobility to safe travel for all people regardless of their mode of transportation. Much of Montgomery Planning’s work prioritizes providing multiple transportation options, making it safer and easier for people to get around on foot and via bicycle; and connecting communities and their people to each other and to recreation, workplaces, retail and public spaces.
Montgomery Planning’s Vision Zero work plan identifies actions to advance Montgomery Planning’s commitment to putting safety first for all people in all communities, whether they are on foot, bicycle or in a motor vehicle. This January, Montgomery Planning hired its first staff member focusing on coordinating all Vision Zero activities for the department and advancing the work plan. Actions include:
* Developing a Vision Zero Toolkit for Community Organizations
* Educating Community Members, Agency Staff and Appointed / Elected Officials
* Estimating Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Volumes Countywide
* Developing Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis
* Developing a Systematic Approach to Incorporating Vision Zero into Master Plans and Development Review
What is Vision Zero?
Vision Zero is a proven approach to preventing roadway-related deaths and severe injuries. It represents a fundamental change in how we plan and design our roads, shifting from a focus on maximizing motor vehicle efficiency to ensuring that our roads are safe regardless of whether travel is by car, bus, bicycle or foot. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes and that our roads should be designed to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities.
Through its 2016 County Council resolution, Montgomery County committed to eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. In 2017, the County Executive released an initial two-year action plan of activities to advance the County toward Vision Zero. Upon completion of the two-year action plan, the County will prepare a ten-year action plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.
The Planning Department’s Role in Vision Zero
Vision Zero is a multidisciplinary effort that requires the support of all County agencies to be successful. The Montgomery County Planning Department has an important role to play in Vision Zero and can support Montgomery County’s program with community engagement, stakeholder facilitation, data analysis and a focus on long-term visioning. Montgomery Planning advances Vision Zero through the following ongoing activities:
* Master Planning: Through master planning, Montgomery Planning engages the community to re-envision our auto-oriented roadways as safe, complete streets for walking, bicycling and driving
* Development and Capital Projects: The Montgomery County Planning Board helps to implement the safety recommendations in master plans by reviewing proposed development and capital projects.
* Data Analysis: The Planning Department has extensive data collection and analysis resources to identify roadway characteristics that create safety challenges and to propose proven changes to improve safety.
* Community Support and Engagement: Montgomery Planning provides support for building a Vision Zero constituency in the county.
The Council will hold a briefing on pedestrian and bicycle safety and the implementation of the County’s Vision Zero plan during its afternoon meeting on Tuesday, January 28 at the Council Office Building in Rockville (100 Md. Ave.). The Council meeting will include representatives from the Maryland State Highway Administration, Montgomery County’s Department of Transportation, the Montgomery County Police Department, Montgomery County Park and Planning, and Montgomery County Public Schools. Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic.
The Council is also planning a Vision Zero town hall meeting on pedestrian and bicycle safety issues on Sunday, February 9 at 2 p.m. in Wheaton to hear directly from residents about the safety issues they are encountering on roadways and sidewalks and in crosswalks located in Montgomery County.
Amy Ginsburg, the executive director of Friends of White Flint, said she was frustrated that it took more than nine months for the Maryland State Highway Administration to recently repaint crosswalks in the North Bethesda area. She said Rockville Pike still needs bike lanes and other improvements if the area is to continue transforming from auto-centric sprawl into a denser, more walkable and bikeable community.
Still, Ginsburg said, transportation agencies that once seemed intent on moving motor traffic are paying closer attention to protecting all road users.
“I truly believe there’s been a sea change in thinking,” Ginsburg said. “Everyone is realizing people want to get out of their cars. Now it’s just a matter of undoing 50 years of car-centric planning to make that a reality.”
The County has just released its Vision Zero Two Year Action Plan. According to the Plan, “the status quo on our roads in Montgomery County and across the United States is unacceptable. The United States is an outlier for traffic fatalities compared to other wealthy countries. On average, more than 35 people lost their lives and 400 were severely injured on roads in Montgomery County, Maryland, annually between 2012 and 2016. These are not accidents and they are not an inevitable ‘cost of doing business’ in the modern world. Behind every traffic safety statistic is a real person whose life is forever changed in one moment. No one in our community should have to grieve the loss of a loved one as the result of a traffic crash. That is why Montgomery County is committed to Vision Zero.”
You can read the full Two-Year Action Plan here and give your feedback by taking this survey.