Montgomery Planning Receives Approval to Move Forward with New Vision Zero Tool

January 23, 2020

Pedestrians on sidewalk by a mulitlane road

Planning Board approves funding of the Predictive Safety Analysis project as part of the department’s commitment to Vision Zero

SILVER SPRING, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Department, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), presented its Vision Zero work plan to the Planning Board at their January 23 meeting and received approval to fund and launch the Predictive Safety Analysis project in the current fiscal year. While most crash analysis looks at where crashes have recently occurred, this project seeks to prevent serious injury or fatal crashes at locations without a recent history of crashes, but that share similar features to areas where serious injury or fatal crashes have occurred.

The Montgomery County Planning Board approved the funding of the project by transferring $125,000 from personnel savings in the Planning Department’s FY20 operating budget. A similar predictive safety analysis tool has been used in Seattle, Washington with a price tag of about $250,000.

The Predictive Safety Analysis tool will use statistical analysis to allow planners and county agencies to target resources to receive the most improvement for the roadways identified as having high risk for future crashes.

Transportation Supervisor David Anspacher recognized much work still needs to happen to reach the goal of zero severe traffic-related injuries and deaths in the county by 2030.

“Montgomery Planning is focused on supporting the County’s Vision Zero goal to end traffic deaths and severe injuries,” said Transportation Supervisor David Anspacher. “We are working closely with our colleagues at the Montgomery County Department of Transportation and the State Highway Administration to plan and design roads, sidewalks and bikeways that make it safe for all modes of transportation.”

View the Planning Department’s Vision Zero Work Plan

Vision Zero represents a fundamental change in thinking about roadway planning and design priorities: changing the focus from vehicular mobility to safe travel for all people regardless of their mode of transportation. Much of Montgomery Planning’s work prioritizes providing multiple transportation options, making it safer and easier for people to get around on foot and via bicycle; and connecting communities and their people to each other and to recreation, workplaces, retail and public spaces.

Montgomery Planning consistently incorporates safety into master plans, recommending approaches to slow the speed of traffic, add locations for safe crossings and separate spaces for walking and bicycling.

Vision Zero offers an opportunity to step up these efforts. As we make safety a central focus of planning efforts, Montgomery Planning looks for ways to save lives by reducing speed, decreasing the chance for collisions and recommending land use changes, especially on suburban and arterial roadways.

Montgomery Planning’s Vision Zero work plan identifies actions to advance Montgomery Planning’s commitment to putting safety first for all people in all communities, whether they are on foot, bicycle or in a motor vehicle. This January, Montgomery Planning hired its first staff member focusing on coordinating all Vision Zero activities for the department and advancing the work plan. Actions include:

  • Developing a Vision Zero Toolkit for Community Organizations
  • Educating Community Members, Agency Staff and Appointed / Elected Officials
  • Estimating Pedestrian, Bicycle and Motor Vehicle Volumes Countywide
  • Developing Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis
  • Developing a Systematic Approach to Incorporating Vision Zero into Master Plans and Development Review

What is Vision Zero?

Vision Zero is a proven approach to preventing roadway-related deaths and severe injuries. It represents a fundamental change in how we plan and design our roads, shifting from a focus on maximizing motor vehicle efficiency to ensuring that our roads are safe regardless of whether travel is by car, bus, bicycle or foot. Vision Zero recognizes that people will sometimes make mistakes and that our roads should be designed to ensure those inevitable mistakes do not result in severe injuries or fatalities.

Through its 2016 County Council resolution, Montgomery County committed to eliminating traffic fatalities and severe injuries. In 2017, the County Executive released an initial two-year action plan of activities to advance the County toward Vision Zero. Upon completion of the two-year action plan, the County will prepare a ten-year action plan to eliminate traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2030.

The Planning Department’s Role in Vision Zero

Vision Zero is a multidisciplinary effort that requires the support of all County agencies to be successful. The Montgomery County Planning Department has an important role to play in Vision Zero and can support Montgomery County’s program with community engagement, stakeholder facilitation, data analysis and a focus on long-term visioning. Montgomery Planning advances Vision Zero through the following ongoing activities:

  1. Master Planning: Through master planning, Montgomery Planning engages the community to re-envision our auto-oriented roadways as safe, complete streets for walking, bicycling and driving.
  2. Development and Capital Projects: The Montgomery County Planning Board helps to implement the safety recommendations in master plans by reviewing proposed development and capital projects.
  3. Data Analysis: The Planning Department has extensive data collection and analysis resources to identify roadway characteristics that create safety challenges and to propose proven changes to improve safety.
  4. Community Support and Engagement: Montgomery Planning provides support for building a Vision Zero constituency in the county.

Learn more at: montgomeryplanning.org/visionzero