2021 | Traffic

Lower speed limits, bicycle lanes, crosswalks part of new road safety goals

County to collect 2030 Vision Zero feedback before publishing final draft in July

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Lower speed limits, new bike lanes and sidewalks, and more speed and red light cameras are in Montgomery County’s plans to eliminate traffic-related deaths and serious injuries by 2030.

A draft Vision Zero 2030 Action Plan released on April 15 includes 45 “action” items to help reduce injuries and fatal crashes.

In the county alone, 163 people died on roadways between 2015 and 2019. Since implementing, in November 2017, the county’s first Vision Zero plan, 7,421 arrests were made for driving while impaired and more than 1.2 million citations were issued by automatic speed enforcement.

The draft plan used data reports on fatal collisions and serious traffic injuries from police departments for Montgomery County, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Takoma Park and Maryland-Capital Park and Planning Commission.

In addition, 14.5 miles of new bikeways, 16.5 miles of new sidewalk, and 35 new traffic signals and beacons were installed and constructed. The county has lowered speed limits, installed car seats, refreshed crosswalks, and reduced highway lane widths to slow traffic.

By 2023, the county aims to reduce serious and fatal crashes by 10%. In 2026, officials have a goal of reaching a 40% reduction before completely eliminating serious and fatal crashes by 2030.

Between April and June, the county will collect feedback on the draft 10-year plan until a final version is published in July.

Virtual community meetings on the draft plan will be scheduled for regional services areas. The meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. on:
● April 28 (Western Montgomery: Bethesda, Rockville, Chevy Chase)
● May 5 (Silver Spring)
● May 13 (Upcounty)
● May 19 (Mid-County)
● May 26 (East County)

Elrich said in a press release that the county should do more to prevent traffic-related injuries and deaths.

“The number of serious and fatal injuries remains higher than we can accept,” he said. “We need to be innovative in using more low-cost interventions to improve more roads and intersections every year. This plan does that by expanding Vizion Zero into more of the County’s maintenance programs.”

According to Wade Holland, the county’s Vision Zero coordinator, more than 1,500 residents completed community interviews, surveys, focus groups and letters regarding the update of the plan, which was developed by more than 70 work group members.

For fiscal year 2021, the council approved an operating budget of roughly $54.8 million and a capital budget of about $46.7 million to support Vision Zero.

Among the “action items” of the plan are updating road and transit networks, modifying speed limits, addressing substance abuse to end impaired driving deaths, and prioritizing infrastructure investments and outreach in disproportionately affected neighborhoods.

Other efforts will focus on crosswalks and signals, transit stops, safety upgrades during road maintenance, sidewalk construction, and bicycle lanes.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.