Despite the presence of a generous merge lane from the ramp onto Route 1 northbound, many drivers stop at the top of the ramp, and most slow down significantly. Why slow down (or stop) if there's plenty of room to merge onto Route 1? Why not just continue at 30 or 40 MPH off the ramp and onto the road? This seemingly inconsequential highway off-ramp can teach us quite a bit about pedestrian safety at highway interchanges.
|The ramp where it meets Route 1. Despite the merge lane, most drivers stop or slow down before entering Route 1. Photo by the author.|
The reason so many drivers stop or slow down as they exit this ramp onto Route 1 is the angle at which the ramp meets the road. In the mid-2000s, as part of the Ikea project, the State Highway Administration (SHA) wanted to create more merge room for motorists merging northbound onto Route 1 from the Beltway, to both improve access to the store and improve traffic flow on this part of Baltimore Avenue.
|The ramp (at center) in 2002. Image from the U.S.. Geological Survey.|
|The ramp in 2007, after being rectified. Image the from U.S. Geological Survey.|
|A driver exiting the Beltway slows for the turn onto Route 1. Photo by the author.|
|The ramp from Route 29 north to I-495 east. Photo by the author.|
|Ramp from I-495 east to Route 29 north. This type of highway geometry is inappropriate for traffic entering a pedestrian environment next to a large high school. Photo by the author.|
|I-495 west to Route 29 north. The road design tells drivers to go fast, but the crosswalk expects them to stop. It's a no-win situation for drivers and pedestrians. Photo by the author.|
|This is what is looks like today. Image from Google Earth.|
|This is what it could look like if realigned. Drawn by the author, base image from Google Earth.|