Anyone who crosses Kentlands Boulevard at Booth, Main or Market Street knows that drivers often fail to stop at the four-way stop at Booth Street. Many also speed through the yield signs at the “traffic calming” circles that are a feature of the boulevard’s design at Main and Market streets. Pedestrians often feel endangered as a result. Help may be on the way as the Gaithersburg Planning Commission recommended funding for pedestrian safety improvement funding to Kentlands Boulevard at its August 2nd meeting. The recommendation was the result of a June 13th inspection of the area by Rick Hall (at right with Planning Commissioners and Kentlands residents Ruthzaly Weich and John Schlichting), a New Urbanism transportation consultant.
Hall’s process for evaluating Kentlands Boulevard’s walkability included both an orientation meeting with residents and City officials and a walk from the entrance to the Sunoco station to Booth Street. Along the way, Hall made general observations, measured traffic speed with a small radar detector, documented sight lines and general conditions with a large number of photographs and tested driver reactions to pedestrians by having group members use the various crosswalks. This last method may not have been entirely realistic, however, due to the attention that the relatively large group of people, including one uniformed police officer, attracted.
Hall’s proposals begin with replacing the faux brick crosswalks that now cross Kentlands Boulevard with with bright white, ladder-style markings of the type recommended by the Federal Highway Administration. These are both visually more obvious and a well-understood crosswalk marking standard.
In addition to the brighter crosswalk markings, Hall recommended the City install flashing lights to alert drivers to pedestrians in the crosswalk at the Main Street roundabout. It is likely these lights would be pedestrian initiated so drivers would not become accustomed to them when no pedestrians are using the crosswalks.
None of these suggested improvements will become reality unless they are funded. Mymcmedia reports the Engineering Services Division Chief Ollie Mumpower estimates the work will cost less than $100,000 and that Schlichting plans to ask City Manager Tony Tomasello for the necessary funds in September or October.