By Sophie Gorman Oriani
Hyattsville’s councilmembers are taking action to reduce traffic dangers in the city.
According to a Hyattsville City Police Department Facebook post, a bicyclist was struck by a car near the intersection of Queens Chapel Road and Lancer Drive on Nov. 19, 2021. Two years earlier, a cyclist was hit and killed just two blocks south, at the intersection of Queens Chapel Road and Hamilton Street.
In August 2021, a pedestrian who was crossing Ager Road near the West Hyattsville Metro station was hit and killed by a car. According to the local news outlet WDVM, Prince George’s County had the highest number of pedestrian deaths in the Washington metro area in 2020; almost 40% of Maryland’s pedestrian deaths took place in the county.
In 2020, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks launched Vision Zero Prince George’s as “a countywide strategy to eliminate traffic-related serious injuries and deaths by 2040,” according to the initiative’s website. The Vision Zero plan combines road and transportation design strategies with driver, cyclist and pedestrian education.
The plan ranks the stretch of Belcrest Road between Adelphi Road and East-West Highway as the 9th most dangerous among county-owned roads. This stretch, which is in Ward 2, saw 21 severe injuries to bicyclists or pedestrians between 2015 and 2018.
In an effort to make city streets safer, Councilmember Danny Schaible (Ward 2) has organized the HVL Street Design Team, which is recruiting members to join brainstorming sessions. Schaible described the initiative in the November/December 2021 edition of his newsletter, the Schaible Scoop.
Joseph Solomon and Rommel Sandino (Ward 5) have hosted a number of meetings with residents to discuss concerns around traffic and safety.
In a Dec. 16, 2021, phone interview, Sandino said residents shared concerns about vehicles cutting through residential neighborhoods, speeding and ignoring signals and signs.
Solomon and Sandino held a September meeting on Gallatin Street, behind the Bestway grocery store, to listen to residents’ traffic concerns. The city’s 2018 transportation study specified that that stretch of Gallatin Street had insufficient parking.
At an October 2021 meeting on Lancer Drive, dozens of residents gathered with city employees, including representatives from the police, code enforcement and public works departments, and both Ward 5 councilmembers to discuss their concerns. One Hyattsville police officer noted watching in amazement as cars failed to stop at the stop sign at the intersection of Lancer Drive and 35th Place, despite the presence of a police car and multiple uniformed officers.
Sandino said that the public works and police departments are gathering data on crashes and traffic flow in the areas of Gallatin Street and Lancer Drive, and will consider installing temporary or experimental traffic-calming measures.
The 2018 Hyattsville Transportation Study recommends a number of measures to increase safety in the city. Installing a traffic light at the intersection of Lancer Drive and Queens Chapel Road is listed as one of the 20 highest priority projects. Queens Chapel is a state road, so the city has to engage with the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration to address any concerns.
Sandino also mentioned several projects aimed at improving ease of travel in the area, including improved signage at the Riverfront at West Hyattsville Metro and the newly painted bike lanes on Ager Road.
Sandino also said that the city is hoping to reach an agreement with the State of Maryland for the city to take ownership of the stretch of Hamilton Street between 38th Avenue and Queens Chapel. On Dec. 20, 2021, the city council voted to hire Pennoni, a consulting engineering firm, to evaluate the stretch of road and propose improvements. The evaluation could cost up to $100,000.