County Analyzing Streets for ‘Pedestrian Comfort’ and Safety
Two-year project will develop a pedestrian master plan, recommend improvements
People walk on sidewalks along a Montgomery County road.
Photo via Montgomery County Planning Department
Montgomery planners have their eyes on increasing walkability along county roads and are undertaking a multiple-year effort to analyze each street and make recommendations for improvements.
The county Planning Department has launched an effort to develop a “pedestrian master plan” to complement the county’s bicycle master plan adopted last year that focused on making streets safer and more accessible to bike riders.
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.
“It can be hard to walk in this county,” said project leader Eli Glazier. “We want to improve pedestrian conditions so everywhere in the county is comfortable and safe to walk.”
Through June 4, 243 pedestrians and bicyclists had been struck by vehicles on roads in Montgomery County, according to county data, a 14% increase from the same time period last year, when 209 had been involved in crashes.
There have been three fatal pedestrian-involved crashes this year compared to two in the same period in 2018.
The pedestrian master plan will first look at areas of general need — where segments of roads lack sidewalks, for example — then dive into more intricate policy-level questions, such as who should be responsible for clearing sidewalks of snow so pedestrians don’t feel forced to walk in the street.
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.
Montgomery County isn’t the first to take a comprehensive look at pedestrian safety, Glazier said, with communities in Oregon and Texas launching similar efforts, but there isn’t a widely recognized “best practice” for conducting a countywide analysis.
”The recommendations from this study can potentially be pretty technical and pretty wonky, but we want to convey that there will hopefully be a positive impact on the lives of Montgomery County residents and visitors, and that’s the whole goal here,” Glazier said.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org