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MCDOT Installs Flashing Beacons at Four Locations to Enhance Pedestrian Safety

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) has installed Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) at three locations along Bel Pre Road in Aspen Hill and a fourth location in Bethesda. When activated by a pedestrian, the RRFB begins flashing, signaling to motorists that a pedestrian is waiting to cross or actively crossing the road.

RRFBs supplement warning signs at unsignalized intersections or mid-block crosswalks. When a pedestrian pushes the button located on the pole, he/she will hear an audible ticking sound as well as a voice message alerting the pedestrian that “yellow lights are flashing.”  The pedestrian should wait to cross until the LED amber warning lights start flashing, and after ensuring that motorists have come to a full stop and it is safe to do so.  The flashing lights are visible to both drivers and pedestrians. The RRFB lights are set to flash long enough to give pedestrians adequate time to cross the roadway.

The RRFBs were installed at:

  • Bel Pre Road near Tynewick Drive

  • Bel Pre Road near Homecrest Road

  • Bel Pre Road near Astrodome Drive

  • Westlake Drive near Lakeview Drive

 Bel Pre Road was selected as one of the locations for RRFBs because of its designation as a High Incidence Area, i.e., sites with a higher concentration of pedestrian collisions. As there is considerable distance between traffic signals on this road, the RRFBs enhance convenience for pedestrians while providing an additional warning to make unsignalized crossings safer.  The RRFB near Montgomery Mall was installed because there is heavy pedestrian traffic using the unsignalized location to access the shopping center.

RRFBs have been shown to enhance safety by increasing driver awareness of people who cross the street at a crosswalk; they are more effective than standard warning signs and pavement markings that are generally installed at unsignalized crosswalks.

To ensure that residents understand how to use the RRFBs, MCDOT is planning an education campaign. Key points to safely using the RRFBs include:

  • Pedestrians must press the button on the pole to activate the flashing signal.

  • Pedestrians should never step in front of a vehicle unless they are sure the driver has seen them and the vehicle has completely stopped.

MCDOT’s education efforts will include:

  • Creating a postcard that will be mailed to residents living near the RRFBs and handed out during crosswalk events. The postcard outlines five simple steps for pedestrians to follow:

  1. Pedestrians activate flashing lights by pressing the button. 

  2. Pedestrians will hear a ticking sound and voice message that says “yellow lights are flashing.” 

  3. Flashing lights alert drivers that pedestrians are waiting to cross.  Pedestrians may safely cross after ensuring that motorists have stopped.

  4. Lights are set to flash long enough to give pedestrians adequate time to cross.

  5. Pedestrians finish crossing. Flashing lights turn off after the set time has elapsed.

     

  • Conducting education at crosswalks with newly installed RRFBs. Pedestrian safety volunteers will spend one to two hours at the crosswalks during afternoon peak usage times and hand out educational post cards.

     

  • Creating a mini-version of the postcard and distributing it to every student at nearby Argyle Middle School.

More information about pedestrian safety in Montgomery County is available at: montgomerycountymd.gov/walk.

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Release ID: 17-439
Media Contact: Esther Bowring 240-777-7155