With a centrally located transit center, a high-density mix of retail and business, and a network of sidewalks, downtown Bethesda is truly a walkable community. But it also has a high volume of traffic, making pedestrian safety a top priority. Montgomery County has initiated a county-wide traffic safety program focusing on education, engineering, and enforcement.
Montgomery County launched the Street Smart campaign to help save lives and reduce injuries by changing the behavior of motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The campaign uses a one-month burst of radio, billboards, bus advertising, print ads, hand-outs, and posters to get the message out.
State law requires motor vehicles to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. Montgomery County Police uses targeted crosswalk enforcement to increase driver compliance. Police have also focused resources on high traffic pedestrian areas for special enforcement of drunk driving, speeding, and red light running. Pedestrians must do their part and follow the law, as violators may also be ticketed and are often given warnings and tips for safe walking.
Engineering & Projects
Through a partnership with Montgomery County Department of Transportation, the Maryland State Highway Administration, the Bethesda Urban Partnership, and Bethesda Transportation Solutions, several engineering projects have been initiated to help make downtown Bethesda safer for pedestrians. Pedestrian countdown signals have been installed at key intersections throughout downtown Bethesda. Other projects include crosswalk striping, sidewalk renovation, signal improvements, street light outage, signage, and mid-road paddle signs.
The county now requires a Pedestrian Impact Statement that mandates that all County projects submit to a thorough analysis of pedestrian movement, access, and safety. Private developers are also required to include a Pedestrian Impact Statement with their transportation area review plans, under the guidance of the county's Park & Planning Department.
A pedestrian countdown signal allows pedestrians to gauge whether they have enough time to cross a street safely by indicating the number of seconds that remain before the light turns red.