By: Rebecca Crowe, FHWA Office of Safety

Maryland Department of Transportation’s Context-Driven Guide

When the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) State Highway Administration (SHA) released its new roadway design guide, Context Driven Access & Mobility for All Users, in 2019, MDOT Secretary Gregory Slater said, “The issue of pedestrian safety requires bold action.” The guide begins by summarizing the increasing pedestrian fatalities in the State (which have risen more than 46 percent of total fatalities between 2009 and 2018) and the relationship between roadway speed and severity of pedestrian crashes.

The MDOT SHA guide describes six new context zones and how each relates to multimodal travel, such as pedestrian activity. The context zones are based, in part, on national guidance such as the most-recent edition of the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Green Book, including zone categories for urban core, suburban activity center, and rural.

The guide also shows, using strong visuals, how the FHWA Safe Transportation for Every Pedestrian (STEP) countermeasures can be integrated into each design context. For example, the suburban activity center zone shows how the pedestrian hybrid beacon (or HAWK beacon) can improve safety at midblock crossings along busy arterials. The guide also references STEP countermeasure tech sheets and other FHWA resources for designing multimodal transportation systems.

MDOT SHA Design Engineer-Cost Estimator Jeff Davis said, “Addressing pedestrian safety through the lens of context provides a means to proactively implement treatments in areas that have traditionally shown a higher propensity for pedestrian crashes. This allows us to get out ahead of the problems, rather than solely reacting to issues as they arise.”

Read more at FHWA’s Safety Compass!