"Thirteen hour turning movement counts of the intersections did not reveal significant volumes of motorists exiting from the side streets to warrant traffic signals or significant pedestrian activity at the intersections. Peak hour reviews at the intersections suggested that observed delays and queues were not unlike similar intersections in Montgomery County. A review of the most recently available three year police reported crash at both intersections history did not indicate a pattern that is correctable by installing a traffic signal at either location or a pattern of pedestrian related crashes. In addition, our review of the sight distance indicated that adequate sight distance exists for motorists approaching US 29 (Colesville Road) at Crestmoor Drive to allow pedestrians to cross safely and legally. ...For these reasons, a marked crosswalk is not justified at this time at US 29 (Colesville Road) at Crestmoor Drive."
|Safe by engineering standards? Sure. Safe in anyone else's opinion? Not even close. Photo by the author.|
"In regard to your constituent’s request for a traffic signal, pedestrian signal, and marked crosswalk at US 29 (Colesville Road) at Crestmoor Drive and traffic signal US 29 (Colesville Road) at Lorain Avenue the SHA follows the nationally-accepted Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) as a guideline to determine when and where traffic control devices should be installed. These guidelines are nationwide in scope and are promulgated by the Federal Highway Administration. The application of these guidelines is not without considerable and deliberate forethought, with the primary reason being safety. As a highway operations agency, the SHA assumes an obligation to follow these guidelines."It's almost as if the SHA is invoking the MUTCD's guidelines to protect their decisions from scrutiny.
|Even marked crossings such as these feel dangerous without a traffic light. Photo by the author.|
So was it the MUTCD that caused the SHA to deny Ted's request, or something else? Since the entire MUTCD is available online for your reading pleasure, let's take a look a Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, which deal with pedestrian crossings and signals. Keep in mind that this is a book of guidelines, not regulations...
Section 3B.18 Crosswalk Markings:
"Crosswalk lines should not be used indiscriminately. An engineering study should be performed before a marked crosswalk is installed at a location away from a traffic control signal or an approach controlled by a STOP or YIELD sign. The engineering study should consider the number of lanes, the presence of a median, the distance from adjacent signalized intersections, the pedestrian volumes and delays, the average daily traffic (ADT), the posted or statutory speed limit or 85th-percentile speed, the geometry of the location, the possible consolidation of multiple crossing points, the availability of street lighting, and other appropriate factors.
New marked crosswalks alone, without other measures designed to reduce traffic speeds, shorten crossing distances, enhance driver awareness of the crossing, and/or provide active warning of pedestrian presence, should not be installed across uncontrolled roadways where the speed limit exceeds 40 mph and either: A. The roadway has four or more lanes of travel without a raised median or pedestrian refuge island and an ADT of 12,000 vehicles per day or greater; or B. The roadway has four or more lanes of travel with a raised median or pedestrian refuge island and an ADT of 15,000 vehicles per day or greater."
|The MUTCD finds that crosswalks like these shouldn't exist without additional safety features. Photo by the author.|
Section 4F.01 Application of Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons:
"For a major street where the posted or statutory speed limit or the 85th-percentile speed exceeds 35 mph, the need for a pedestrian hybrid beacon should be considered if the engineering study finds that the plotted point representing the vehicles per hour on the major street (total of both approaches) and the corresponding total of all pedestrians crossing the major street for 1 hour (any four consecutive 15-minute periods) of an average day falls above the applicable curve in Figure 4F-2 for the length of the crosswalk."
|Route 29 carries far more than 1,500 vehicles per hour.|
To summarize the excerpts above, the MUTCD recommends that a marked crosswalk on a road the size of Route 29 be installed only in conjunction with other measures to mitigate speed and increase driver awareness of the crossing. Furthermore, a pedestrian beacon (like a HAWK signal or the SHA standard pedestrian signal) should only be installed on such a road if 20 pedestrians cross the road in a one hour period.
|Pedestrian signal on University Boulevard at The Oaks, just west of Four Corners. Photo by the author.|