Planning Board Briefed on Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study

Planning Board Briefed on Aspen Hill Vision Zero Study

Suggested improvements include more crosswalks, no right turns at red lights

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Vision Zero aims to eliminate pedestrian fatalities by 2030.

Logo via Montgomery County Planning

The Montgomery County Planning Board last week received a briefing about an ongoing study to reduce the frequency of pedestrian-involved crashes in the Aspen Hill area and reviewed a list of about three dozen recommendations to boost the effort.

Aspen Hill is part of the county’s Vision Zero initiative, with a goal of eliminating severe pedestrian injuries and fatalities by 2030. The county Planning Department and a committee of 12 local residents was commissioned to examine pedestrian safety in the area and presented their findings to the county Planning Board last week.

Suggestions include installing lighting at all intersections, prohibiting right turns at red lights, providing marked crosswalks at intersections, installing speed cameras and relocating school bus stops from highways to residential streets or other less-traveled areas.

The study area encompasses the area between Georgia and Connecticut Avenues north of Bel Pre Road and south to Matthew Henson Park.

Suggestions also include changes for specific streets, including reducing the speed limit on Connecticut Avenue between Independence Street and Bel Pre Road to 35 mph and on Aspen Hill Road from Georgia Avenue to Veirs Mill Road to 25 mph.

The county Planning Department recommends directing the county planning department to develop bilingual education campaigns and lengthening the amount of time allowed for pedestrians to cross many streets.

The Aspen Hill area recorded 17 traffic-related severe injuries or fatalities between 2015 and 2017.

The Vision Zero initiative focuses on employing traffic engineering, enforcement and education to foster a 35 percent reduction in severe injuries and fatalities by November 2019, according to a county press release.

But despite a countywide effort to reduce crashes involving pedestrians, local roads have seen a 14% increase in pedestrian crashes in the first six months of 2019.

Through the first half of the year, 272 pedestrians and bicyclists have been struck by vehicles on roads in Montgomery County – about 1.5 per day, according to county data.

In a separate effort in June, the Montgomery Planning Department announced it was launching a multiple-year effort to analyze each county street and make recommendations for improvements to increase walkability.

During a two-year process, the department will develop a “pedestrian level of comfort” analysis that assesses each street’s pedestrian experience including factors like the street’s speed limit and sidewalk width. Then, planners will develop what is expected to be a lengthy list of recommendations to improve roads, from adding crosswalks to installing more lights at intersections.

The Planning Department will begin community outreach in September and work on the plan will continue through mid-2021, with tentative approval expected in July 2021.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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