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Votes

Pedestrian Safety

"If we keep building bigger roads, how can we have any hope of decreasing pedestrian deaths?" asked Marta Vogel, of the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board.

"We need to have pedestrian impact statements [to all construction and development projects]" said Del. Bill Bronrott (D-16), who was one of the guest speakers before the advisory board on Monday, April 15.

The inclusion of such pedestrian impact statements in any development project is just one of the recommendations of Bronrott's Montgomery County Blue Ribbon Panel on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, which submitted its final report to the county executive Doug Duncan in January.

"The County should require that all public and private construction projects include a 'Pedestrian Impact Statement,' including a process for review by the County to maximize pedestrian safety and access," reads this particular engineering recommendation. (See www.co.mo.md.us, click on pedestrian safety icon).

How best to incorporate that process is under review by the Park and Planning, said Lori Gillen, the pedestrian safety coordinator in the Office of the County Executive, who also spoke before the advisory board on the implementation of the Blue Ribbon Panel's recommendations.

BRONROTT LAUNCHED The Blue Ribbon Panel in 2001, with an official ceremony in front of O'Donnell’s restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue, where a Bethesda resident died while walking her dog when she was struck by a truck the year before.

"This initiative started right here in this building when I was first elected to office," said Bronrott. "Crossing the street shouldn't be a death-defying act."

The panel focused on the "Three E's," said Bronrott, education of motorists and pedestrians, enforcement and engineering.

"This is truly a quality of life issue in Montgomery County. Maryland will have one million more people in the next decade," said Bronrott. "The question is how we grow, where we grow … I'm a big believer that it isn't only smart growth, but safe growth we should be concerned with."

THE REPORT highlights 54 education, engineering, and enforcement recommendations. Bronrott highlighted the following to the Board on Monday:

* Dedicating county and state money for law enforcement in communities.

* Identifying troublesome intersections.

* Conducting a general education campaign to reach out to those new to the community and new to the country.

* Implementing a "Pedestrian Safety Engineering Tool Box," that contains engineering options available.

* Carrying out a countywide "Safe Routes to School" program.

LEGISLATION PASSED during this year's Maryland General Assembly included:

* Legislation making hit and run a felony

* Increasing the state share of the cost of building hiker/biker paths along state roads to 75 percent, which make them more affordable to build

Bronrott reported that increasing technology allowing police to catch speeding drivers, such as radar cameras, did not pass the Assembly, but Bronrott said pedestrian safety is a topic most people are aware of. "There is a climate that people will understand when they are ticketed — motorists for aggressive driving and pedestrians for jaywalking — that they have been warned," said Bronrott.