In December of 2008, MCDOT led a multi-disciplined team, including the Maryland State Highway Administration (MSHA), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Montgomery County Police Department (MCPD) in a two-day pedestrian road safety audit (PRSA) along Wisconsin Avenue in the Bethesda Central Business District. The PRSA study area extended from Leland Street to Montgomery Avenue, encompassing seven intersections. The audit team also included participants from the Bethesda-Chevy-Chase Regional Services Center, Bethesda Urban Partnership, and local community members.
The Wisconsin Avenue PRSA was the first performed in one of the County’s CBD areas, which revealed how distinctive pedestrian safety and mobility issues can be in this type of setting. Two notable findings were that the peak period for pedestrian-vehicle conflicts was found to be during midday hours; and a review of crash data revealed that pedestrian crashes primarily involved turning vehicles at intersections. In non-CBD areas, peak conflict conditions are typically during the morning or afternoon rush hours; and pedestrian crashes commonly occur at uncontrolled mid-block locations. As part of the Montgomery County Executive’s Pedestrian Safety Initiative, this area was identified as one of the “High Incidence Areas” (HIA) in Montgomery County based on collision data provided by the Montgomery County Police Department and the Maryland State Highway Administration.
Since the audit was conducted, MCDOT has been working with MSHA to implement pedestrian related safety improvements. In 2010, five intersections with existing pedestrian indications were upgraded to countdown pedestrian signals along Wisconsin Avenue. Currently five signals on Wisconsin Avenue from Old Georgetown Road to Leland Street are being reconstructed to include APS, CPS, and new LED signals.