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Councilmember Ervin Advocates for Effort to Improve Pedestrian Safety

For Immediate Release: Thursday, December 6, 2007

Councilmember Ervin Advocates for Effort to Improve Pedestrian Safety

County Executive, Council, Planning Board Collaborate to Reduce Collisions, Make Montgomery More Walkable

ROCKVILLE, Md., Dec. 6, 2007—County Councilmember Valerie Ervin on Wednesday, Dec. 5, joined Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett in announcing a Pedestrian Safety Initiative that will, for the first time, create a blueprint for action based on measurable strategies.

The plan spells out specific performance goals, timelines and budgets for achieving recommended actions. Ongoing evaluations will ensure the proposed engineering, enforcement, and education solutions are really working.

This initiative is an interagency, cooperative effort between the County Executive, Councilmember Ervin as the County Council representative on the Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee and the Montgomery County Planning Board.

Councilmember Ervin, who represents Council District 5 (Takoma Park, Wheaton, Kensington and parts of Silver Spring), is a member of the Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee. She has been a strong advocate of measures that would protect pedestrians.

“As the Council’s representative on the County’s Pedestrian Safety Advisory Committee, I am so proud to be working in partnership with the County Executive on an issue that is a top priority for me—creating safe, walkable communities in Montgomery County,” said Ervin. “Comprehensive pedestrian protection plans are needed in school zones, central business districts, and transit areas because these areas have a significant amount of pedestrian activity combined with high traffic volumes. This Pedestrian Safety Initiative will ensure that the County’s most vulnerable roadway users receive as much attention as drivers.”

The plan establishes goals to:
• Reduce pedestrian-related crashes, injuries, fatalities and their associated social and economic costs
• Ensure that all areas of the County provide safe and convenient travel options for pedestrians

The initiative identifies seven strategies to significantly enhance the County’s investment in educating motorists and pedestrians; keep enforcement efforts visible and intensive; and aggressively apply the most innovative and pedestrian-friendly road engineering designs to prevent pedestrian injury and make Montgomery County a safe, livable and accessible community.

County Executive Leggett has made improving pedestrian safety a priority since he took office one year ago.

“I believe we can dramatically improve pedestrian safety and accessibility for everyone in Montgomery County,” said Leggett. “Our challenge is to reassess what we are doing, keep what’s working well and find new and creative ways to significantly expand our pedestrian safety efforts. I am committed to recreating Montgomery County and making it a truly walkable community. It’s what every resident deserves. Through my Pedestrian Safety Initiative, we will transform our pedestrian environment for future generations and enhance the high quality of life for which Montgomery County is known.”

The initiative sets out timeframes and budgets for new and enhanced efforts to achieve each strategy, starting with fiscal year 2009. The strategies are:
• Strategy 1: Target pedestrian safety improvements in High Incidence Areas (locations with the highest frequency of pedestrian collisions)
• 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

By making pedestrian travel safer, easier and more convenient, other important objectives are also achieved, including improving health and fitness, decreasing local vehicular congestion and pollution, and making the community more appealing to businesses, residents and tourists. This initiative proposes new spending on pedestrian safety activities of about $4.8 million per year and $32.4 million over six years. The County currently spends approximately $30 million annually in programs related to pedestrians.

In January 2002, a Blue Ribbon Panel for Pedestrian and Traffic Safety issued its report identifying 54 recommendations to reduce pedestrian collisions and fatalities. For the past six years, these recommendations have guided County efforts to improve safety for pedestrians and make Montgomery County a more walkable community. Progress has been made – regional surveys have shown that awareness of pedestrian safety issues has increased both among the driving and walking public.

There has been an average of 14 pedestrian fatalities and 430 collisions involving pedestrians each year in Montgomery County between 2003 and 2006.

The Pedestrian Safety Initiative can be viewed online on the County’s Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/walk. For more information, call 240-777-7155.

Release ID: 07-131
Media Contact: Sonya Healy 240-777-7970