It may be the holiday season, but that also means it’s the shopping season when more cars and pedestrians share the county’s parking lots. On Thursday, Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett launched a campaign to educate pedestrians and help curb the number of accidents between pedestrians and cars in shopping areas.
At Dawson’s Market in Rockville, Leggett unveiled the educational campaign, including brochures, reusable grocery bags and pavement decals. The County Council has dedicated $50,000 to a pedestrian parking lot safety program this year, which is paying for the educational materials.
This year’s campaign is building on Leggett’s original pedestrian safety initiative, which started in December 2007.
“The original initiative looked at roadway collisions, and has focused on that,” county spokeswoman Esther Bowring said. “We realized that the increase from 2011 to 2013 in pedestrian collisions was actually an increase in those that occurred in parking lots.”
According to a county press release, 423 pedestrian accidents between people and cars were reported in Montgomery County in 2012. About 30 percent of those, or 125 incidents, were in parking lots and garages. The county found that about 18 percent of parking lot crashes with pedestrians resulted in severe or incapacitating injuries.
Bowring said the same percent of collisions on roadways, about 20 percent, resulted in severe or incapacitating injuries.
“As we’re trying to figure out and get a handle on what is going on, and why these things are happening, we felt it was important — especially with the holiday season coming up — that people are educated,” she said.
Bowring said a county task force is working to find patterns in pedestrian crash data. A group with representatives from county departments and agencies are sharing information and considering ways to educate the public about the issue.
The county is forming partnerships with developers to reach retailers throughout the county. They have formed relationships with Foulger-Pratt, JBG Rosenfeld Retail, Lakeforest mall owner Urban Retail Properties, Peterson Cos. and others.
Dawson’s Market, which is part of Rockville Town Square and has garage parking, has educational materials from the county on display inside the store. Bus shelters and Ride On buses also have county brochures about pedestrian safety, including materials in Spanish. The campaign’s outdoor elements, like pavement decals, will be installed in county garages over the next few months, Bowring said.