County Activates Bethesda’s First All-Pedestrian Intersection To Improve Safety

Light at Arlington Road and Bethesda Avenue will stop cars in all directions for pedestrians


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The intersection at Arlington Road and Bethesda Avenue will get a new all pedestrian phase traffic signal

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Pedestrians at one downtown Bethesda intersection now have 30 seconds at a time to cross the street in any direction without worrying about oncoming cars.

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation announced it has changed the traffic signals at Arlington Road and Bethesda Avenue to periodically halt all motorists for pedestrians. The all-pedestrian intersection is Bethesda’s first and is intended to improved safety at the street crossing, according to MCDOT.

“The entire Arlington Road corridor was being studied for pedestrian safety improvements, and this is just part of a larger effort to improve safety all along that corridor,” said Esther Bowring, MCDOT spokeswoman.

The crossing at Arlington and Bethesda is often used to travel between Bethesda Row and the Giant grocery store on Arlington Road.

Bowring said that although MCDOT didn’t paint diagonal crosswalks, pedestrians can even cross the street diagonally when all cars are stopped for the 30-second intervals.

MCDOT will be keeping track of the all-pedestrian crosswalk in coming months to evaluate whether any other improvements are needed, Bowring said. The county does have one other all-pedestrian traffic signal—at Arcola Avenue and Lamberton Drive in Silver Spring.

To improve safety along Arlington Road, MCDOT has restriped all the crosswalks and made other repairs to help pedestrians navigate the intersections. Traffic signals at Moorland and Edgemoor lanes were also modified to give people more walk time and a head start on crossing an intersection before the light turns green for cars running parallel to them, according to a press release. These lights were also adjusted so left-turning cars no longer conflict with pedestrians.

The traffic signal at Elm Street along Arlington Road also will be reconstructed next spring so the intersection is more accessible to pedestrians. 

In November, the county rolled out its two-year Vision Zero action plan that aims to eliminate traffic deaths and severe crashes on county roadways by 2030.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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