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Pedestrian deaths fall in MontCo

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Local,Maryland,Kate Jacobson

Pedestrian deaths caused by car accidents in Montgomery County have fallen 21 percent since 2009, according to new county data.

The county has recorded six deaths from January through October, with two more dying since then. That's down from 19 pedestrians dying as a result of being hit by vehicles in 2008.

Non-fatal pedestrian collisions are down 12 percent since 2009 -- from 454 in 2009 to 314 so far in 2012.

"We are seeing significant reductions in pedestrian collisions in areas where we have taken a comprehensive and targeted approach," said Montgomery County Executive Ike Leggett, who established the county's Pedestrian Safety Initiative five years ago.

The initiative targeted areas where officials thought pedestrians are most at risk, mainly busy streets near more urban areas. In particular, Silver Spring, Bethesda and Rockville Pike are a few of the areas highlighted by the county as "high incident areas."

The county spent $2.2 million on improving pedestrian safety in those areas between fiscal 2009 and 2013.

According to Montgomery County Department of Transportation data, the county constructed 16 new miles of sidewalks, added 7.6 miles of sidewalks around bus stops and constructed 61,200 square feet of new bus stop pads between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2012, costing the county slightly more than $12 million.

The agency also built 80 traffic calming measures throughout the county, which officials say have reduced pedestrian collisions in those areas by 35 percent.

The county budgeted $4.9 million for the program this year, including retiming more than half of pedestrian signals to give walkers more time and upgrading the signals for the visually impaired.

Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, D-Silver Spring, who serves on the Pedestrian, Bicycle and Traffic Safety Advisory Committee, said she and Leggett have worked together to bring more attention and funding to pedestrian safety.

"The goal of these efforts is to keep our county moving while improving our quality of life," she said.

Maryland transportation officials also have been trying to reduce the number of pedestrian fatalities around the state.

They hope to reduce pedestrian fatalities to 92 by 2015 through their Maryland Strategic Highway Safety Plan. There were 103 such deaths in 2011.

kjacobson@washingtonexaminer.com

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