Montgomery Co. to get first ‘protected intersection’ on the East Coast

The planned protected intersection in Montgomery County. (Courtesy Montgomery County Division of Transportation)

Silver Spring, Maryland, will be installing the first protected intersection on the East Coast, and the county’s department of transportation and engineering took to Twitter to explain how it works.

The intersection, which will be at the intersection of Second Avenue and Spring Street near downtown Silver Spring features a number of safety features designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists from traffic.

Bike lanes run on both Second Avenue and Spring Street, and this intersection is where the two meet.

The biggest factor that the protected intersection tries to mitigate is speed.

“Speed is the critical factor in crash survivability,” The Montgomery County Department of Transportation and Engineering said.

For drivers, it does this with tighter turn radii in the intersection, which force drivers to slow down significantly. Cyclists must cross through a lateral shift inside the intersection, which also forces them to reduce speed.

“That means that both drivers and cyclists have more time to react to avoid a crash. But if there is a crash, it is much less likely to be severe, and more likely to be survivable,” the department said.

The lateral shift also serves to put cyclists in a position in the intersection where they are more visible to traffic. Cyclists and drivers will use the same lights at the intersection, but the bike lane is staggered ahead of the vehicle lane, meaning bikes will be out ahead of cars when the light turns green.

Corner islands within the intersection offer a place for bikers to queue while waiting on the light, and increase protection for pedestrians, the department said.

Work on the intersection is set to begin on Aug. 11.

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