Recently, Clark and Steinhorn editorialized about the need for immediate action to save the lives of student pedestrians in College Park, Md. We were not alone, as a student initiative attracted thousands of web supporters and wisely, University of Maryland President, Wallace Loh, has announced new measures to make College Park safer for pedestrians and drivers alike. http://www.president.umd.edu/statements/pedestrian_safety.cfm
The tri-partite proposals include efforts to educate pedestrians that crossing Route 1 while drunk, while focused on their phones, while outside of crosswalks, against the lights, are deadly behaviors. This author is candidly skeptical about the effectiveness of these efforts. Route 1 is filled with young people in various states of sobriety, intent on getting to their destinations. Even with an increased police presence, jaywalking in College Park is inevitable. The long-term goal of some sort of pedestrian underpass or overpass, is very necessary. Such a creation will not happen over night but the announced, increased, police presence will slow drivers down and make Route 1 less deadly.
Beyond the "educational" components of the plan, the other two aspects involve changes to Route 1, including reduction in the speed limit and an increased use of flashing lights and signs and a greater "prime time" police presence. "Prime Time" means Thursday through Saturday night until 3:30 am when downtown College Park is awash in students and bar patrons.
Prince George's County Police and University of Maryland Police will park on Route 1 with flashing lights to alert drivers to slow down and pedestrians to cross safely. This measure more than any other is likely to have an immediate impact on pedestrian crash safety.
The contemplated physical changes to Route 1 will take longer. The Maryland State Highway Administration will conduct a safety audit and some time later this year or early next year, further proposed measures will be debated.
Suggested proposals discussed in President Loh's April 23, 2014 letter include more flashing red lights at important intersections to slow down traffic, reduction in the speed limit to 25 mph, barriers in the medians to make jaywalking less feasible and better lighting to illuminate pedestrians for drivers.
As previously discussed on this website the safest alternative would be to create either overpasses or underpasses that eliminate direct contact between the invariably heavy vehicular traffic and the legion of walkers and bikers in College Park.
As a long-time alum, married to an alum, and father of two alums, College Park and the University contained therein, are near and dear to my heart. Think of what an amazing transformation the city and University could make if the area between Lehigh Road and Hartwick Road on Route 1 was a pedestrian-only thoroughfare? Festivals, street fairs and celebrations of great wins over Michigan and Ohio State could take place there in complete safety and we wouldn't be discussing the tragic deaths and injuries that mark those spots presently. For more go to:http://www.maryland-law.com/library/college-park-crash-deaths-require-serious-changes-.cfm