Mr. Tim Smith
State Highway Administration
707 North Calvert Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Dear Mr. Smith,
We, the undersigned, request the Maryland State Highway Administration (MDSHA) implement pedestrian and bicyclist crossing improvements at highways MD-212/Riggs Road and MD-410/East West Highway which intersect M-NCPPC Sligo Creek Trail and highway corridors near the park trail.
These popular Sligo Creek Trail crosswalks at state highway intersections present a significant threat to vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists as a consequence of inadequate signal facilities, excessive driver speed for conditions, substantial crossing distances, several multi-threat travel lanes, exposure from high vehicle volume, lack of shoulders and center median (MD-410), and obstructed crosswalk visibility. In short, these crosswalk systems are compromised.
We request the following suite of Safe System elements be implemented by MDSHA to provide adequate crosswalk safety:
- Narrow Travel Lanes
- Remove Visibility Obstructions and Barriers
- Build a Pedestrian Island Refuge (MD-410)
- Extend Bike Lanes (MD-212)
- Implement a Road Diet (MD-212)
- Implement Context-Driven Safe Speed
- Upgrade the Crosswalk Beacons
These Safe System elements work together as an ensemble to keep vulnerable crosswalk users and drivers safe. These recommended Safe System elements are summarized in Table 1.
This is a major safety issue.
- Vulnerable pedestrians and bicyclists on key trail crossings, which include school children, are currently exposed to high speed, high volume (23,000 vehicles per weekday) traffic, crossing several dangerous multi-threat lanes with inadequate or non-existent shoulders. The crossing systems are also compromised by obstructed sightlines from the presence of blind (sag) curves, utility poles, and bridge wall visibility blockages.
- These compromised trail crossing systems have resulted in numerous documented Maryland State Police crashes resulting in the crossings being identified as medium to high pedestrian and bicyclists crash “crash hot spots” in the MDOT Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2019).
The design ignores equity and land use contexts.
- These highway corridors serve a highly disadvantaged and chronically underserved majority-minority community and included within Maryland Equity Emphasis Area, Priority Funding Area, and Health Outcomes SocioNeeds Area.
- These trail crossings serve a dense urban community (10,000 residents per square mile) with extremely high percent of no-car households (30%) satisfying demand created by numerous nearby (<0.25 mile) amenities including elementary schools, park and recreation centers, and shopping centers.
Sligo Creek Trail is a major part of our transportation system.
- These trail crossings are an integral component of the Anacostia Tributary Trail System (ATTS) serving seven regional and national trail systems thereby helping Maryland promote its rich and diverse cultural, historic, and environmental, and heritage.
- These trail crossings provide 23,000 residents critical links six transit stations from four rail lines (WMATA Purple, Red, Green, Yellow Lines and MVA/MARC Camden Line) meeting growing demand for accessibility within the region’s multi-modal transportation system which include significant Transit/Trail Oriented Development, upgraded nearby bicycle facilities (MD-500, MD-193, Ager Rd), and the 670 bicycle fleet Prince George’s County Bike Share Program.
Our request is consistent with MDOT/MDSHA’s “context driven” engineering guidelines. These MDSHA guidelines include safe speed limits, continental crosswalks, and specialized signals. Similar Safe System elements are being implemented by MDSHA through the MD-500/Queens Chapel Project. Prioritizing Sligo Creek trail crossings is also congruent with MDOT policy goals promulgated by the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan (2019).
Finally, our Sligo Creek Trail crossing Safe System recommendations are consistent with Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) recommendations, MDOT/MDSHA urban mobility-focused streetscape policy, and MDSHA cost-effective pedestrian safety countermeasures currently being undertaken.
Thank you for your urgent attention to making the M-NCPPC Sligo Creek Trail crossings safe.
Capital Trails Coalition
Coalition for Smarter Growth
Table 1. Crosswalk System Deficiencies, Risks, and Recommended Safe System Elements
|Crossing System Deficiency||Risk||Recommended Safe System Element||MD212 /Riggs Road||MD410 /East West Hwy|
|Excessive Crossing Distance, Pedestrian & Bicyclist Exposure, Streetscape Encourages High Driver Speed||Pedestrian & Bicyclist Exposure, Unsafe Driver Speed especially with presence of blind curves and obstructions||Narrow Travel Lanes, Decrease Exposure, Encourage Drive Safe Speed, Decrease Stopping Distance||X||X|
|Crosswalk Barriers, Utility Poles, Bridges, Walls, and Blind Curves||Drivers and Vulnerable Crosswalk Users fail to see each other, increasing risk of crashes||Remove obstructions and barriers, improving visibility||X||X|
|Speed Limit Excessive for Trail, School, and Shopping Urban Environment||Likelihood of death for Pedestrians and Bicyclists struck by vehicles traveling faster than 30 mph is High||Implement Safe Speeds consistent with Context-Driven multimodal, urban conditions||X||X|
|Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Streetscape Encourages High Driver Speed||Drivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver Speed||Build a Pedestrian Island Refuge (24 inch wide) in Median, Reduce Exposure from Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Encourage Driver Safe Speed||X|
|Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Poor Driver/Vulnerable User Vision||Drivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver Speed||Extend Bike Lanes on MD212 from Sargent to MD410/East-West Highway Intersection, Reduce Exposure from Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Encourage Driver Safe Speed||X|
|Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, Excessive Crossing Distance, Poor Driver/Vulnerable User Vision||Drivers Vision of Vulnerable Users Blocked, Significant Exposure to Vulnerable Users, Streetscape Encourages High Driver Speed||Implement Road Diet (6 ->4 Travel Lanes), Extend Crossing Queuing Area using Curb Extensions/Bump-Outs as supported by highway Volume/Capacity, Encourage Driver Safe Speed||X|
|Crosswalk Width (6ft) does not provide early warning of presence of Vulnerable Users in Crosswalk||Drivers speed and braking distance is excessive for conditions; risk of collisions elevated||Widen Crosswalk width from 6ft to 10ft, an, Encourage Drive Safe Speed||X|
|Existing Circular Yellow Beacon Provides Inadequate Vulnerable User Crosswalk Safety for Highway Speed, Crossing Distance, Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, High Vehicle Volume and Vulnerable User Demand, Lack of Shoulders and Median, and Obstructed Visibility||Number of Crashes at and near crosswalks is high, risk of serious injuries and fatalities is significant||Upgrade crossing signal to Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon / HAWK or Full Signal (preferred) to provide adequate crosswalk safety for Vulnerable Users||X|
|Existing Circular Yellow Beacon Provides Inadequate Vulnerable User Crosswalk Safety for Highway Speed, Crossing Distance, Multi-Threat Travel Lanes, High Vehicle Volume and Vulnerable User Demand, Lack of Shoulders, and Obstructed Visibility||Number of Crashes at and near crosswalks is high, risk of serious injuries and fatalities is significant||Upgrade crossing signal to Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB), Pedestrian Hybrid Beacon / HAWK (preferred) or Full Signal to provide adequate crosswalk safety for Vulnerable Users||X|