Response from SHA regarding RIGGS Road

This is in further response to your email regarding bicycle safety concerns along the subject roadway in Prince George’s County.  The State Highway Administration (SHA) appreciates the opportunity to assist you in this matter.

 The SHA’s District 3 traffic engineering staff has completed its review of this location, and would like to share the findings with you.  Under current Maryland law, bicycles are permitted to share the roadway with vehicular traffic.  In addition, the Prince George’s county Law prohibits the bicycles from using the sidewalks.

 Turning movement counts were completed at the Drexel Street, Crosby Road, and Chapman Road intersections with MD 212.  Bicycles were counted separately at the three intersections.  It was found that only 2 bicycles accessed MD 212 from Crosby Road during the day.  Most of the cyclists traveling from Sligo Creek Trail are utilizing Drexel Street and are traveling along SB MD 212 to access Chapman Road.  The bicycle count at MD 212 and Chapman Road intersection indicated less than half of the bicyclists accessed Chapman Road from SB MD 212 and more bicyclists continued straight along MD 212 to MD 410.   Field observations indicated that no bicycles were observed utilizing the sidewalks along either direction of MD 212 at Crosby Road and Chapman Road intersections.  A safer method for bicyclists to access Chapman Road via MD 212 is to turn turn right from Chapman Road onto SB MD 212 then utilize the median opening along MD 212 at Beechwood Road, south of Chapman Road, where they can make a left-turn and continue along Beechwood Road to 21st Avenue then to Chapman Road.   In addition, a review of the most recent police reported crash data did not indicate any crashes involving bicycles at either Crosby Road or Chapman Road.  As a result of the aforementioned information, a median cut-through for bicycles along MD 212 at Chapman Road is not recommended. 

 As an alternative, a request was sent to the SHA’s maintenance staff to install “Bicycle” signs with supplemental “Share the Road” signs to raise drivers’ awareness of the presence of bicycle traffic along MD 212 from MD 410 to Drexel Street.  This work will be completed in sixty (60) days, weather and scheduling permitting.

 A design request was submitted for review and approval by the director of the Office of Traffic and Safety (OOTS) to install a bicycle loop detector along NB MD 212 and Drexel Street intersection.  Installation of a crosswalk across MD 212 at Drexel Street as well as installation of audible and countdown pedestrian signals is also recommended as a part of this design request package.  Please note that design requests must be approved by the director of OOTS, once approved a schedule will be developed and plans will be prepared in order to implement the change. 

 Thank you again for your email.  If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me or my Team Leader for Traffic, Ms. Shaneka Owens, at 301-513-7424 or 1-800-749-0737.


Felecia Murphy

Assistant District Engineer-Traffic (Prince George’s County)

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4 Responses to Response from SHA regarding RIGGS Road

  1. Neil says:

    I have no desire to be in the left lane of three, uphill as needed to turn left to Beechwood Road, then to turn left across another three lanes of traffic with diminished visibility forward over the hill. That’s absolutely not safer for cyclists. I would be happy to ride with Ms. Murphy along this route to demonstrate. I take this route when the intersection at Chapman is not clear and appears unsafe, and it’s not better. (The road surface of Beechwood is poor to boot.)

    A pedestrian crossing would be quite useful, though as noted, apparently not for cyclists.

    • bikeumd says:

      Thanks for commenting.
      There is no intersection at Chapman. There is a median there. (,+Hyattsville,+Prince+George's,+Maryland+20783&gl=us&ll=38.977659,-76.97804&spn=0.000722,0.001737&t=h&z=20) Also if you are headed south on Riggs from Drexel it is downhill. Now if you are headed north on Riggs and looking to turn left onto Drexel/Erskine, it is uphill. This is where there will be a pedestrian count down machine so that you can time the lights. If you have been crossing corner to corner in line with the sidewalk anyway, this is a welcome improvement.

      That said, you are not the only cyclist that doesn’t care for Beechwood. So far, I have 1 vote for it and 2 votes against it compared to Chapman. However, I am curious as to what exactly you do at Chapman when travelling towards campus. I have seen and heard three options so far.

      #1 cross at Erskine and ride the sidewalk down against traffic, turn left on Chapman.
      #2 ride the sidewalk down until you get to the median break at Crosby, pass through median, travel 40 meters opposite of traffic in the street on Riggs (against those three lanes of traffic that you mention), turn left onto Chapman.
      #3ride in the street on Riggs, wait in the break in the median, travel 40 meeters opposite of traffic in the street, turn left on Chapman.

      Certainly this is a difficult intersection for bikes.

  2. Neil says:

    (posted stand alone and not as a reply for wider margins…)

    South on Riggs from Drexel is downhill until it passes Chapman.
    Then it’s uphill (not seriously, but enough to
    lose speed) for a stretch while approaching Beechwood. My
    point was that the time when a bike will be at its slowest is
    also the time when s/b Riggs traffic
    will catch up and when a bike should be in the left lane where
    drivers do not expect us to be. (Google Earth v6 features elevation, which
    suggests that the elevation gains 3 meters in 30.) And
    further, that crossing three lanes of oncoming traffic is
    easier when you can see the traffic for a significant
    distance (at Crosby / Chapman) than when they crest a hill
    in front of you (at Beechwood).

    For reference, this is the intersection that the SHA wants
    me to use to turn left at:,-76.97804&sspn=0.000528,0.001065&gl=us&g=Riggs+Rd+%26+Chapman+Rd,+Hyattsville,+Prince+George's,+Maryland+20783&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Riggs+Rd+%26+Beechwood+Rd,+Hyattsville,+Prince+George's,+Maryland+20783&ll=38.975817,-76.978535&spn=0.00211,0.004259&t=h&z=18&layer=c&cbll=38.97589,-76.978506&panoid=oWJOcQ3_k0uGDaXIM-ARoQ&cbp=12,51.7,,0,12.25

    Note both the uphill approaching the intersection from the
    north (hard to tell from the street-view image with only
    visual cues) and the mediocre visibility to the south (cars
    peeking out from the hill). In one of these images, the
    street view camera looks down on a large white van; it is a
    bit taller than a cyclist and overestimates visibility.

    My Drexel to Chapman toward campus steps: I’m somewhere
    between #2 and 3.

    At riggs, wait for the light (important for me, required by
    the no turn on red sign, and safe because there’s no way to
    see s/b Riggs traffic) then turn right. Wait for
    right-turning Drexel to s/b riggs auto traffic to pass on
    the left, then move left. The light for straight-through
    s/b Riggs traffic is long enough that there’s time to focus
    mostly on traffic ahead.

    If n/b Riggs is clear or mostly clear and Chapman is empty,
    I wrong-way cycle in the left turn lane for Crosby before
    turning left onto Chapman. That left turn lane is used
    primarily by people making U turns coming from Chapman or
    Charleston: most n/b Riggs traffic does not use it; there
    must be easier routes to that neighborhood. I may wait in
    the turn lane, and sometimes take shelter on the median if I
    misjudged the speed and volume of traffic. The southernmost
    point of the turn lane is relatively safe since the lane is
    so long and it avoids traffic from Chapman that will make a
    U-turn on Riggs.

    If n/b Riggs is a packed or the left turn lane toward Crosby
    Rd is blocked (unlikely, since I waited for the light at
    Riggs and that traffic has had a chance to make its turns),
    I have been riding through to Beechwood. I usually have
    cars behind me by the time I reach the lane, and then have
    to figure out when to make the turn. I do not expect
    drivers to look for cyclists there.

    As for the options, I’m a mix of 2 and 3.
    #1 cross at Erskine – there’s no marked crosswalk, no safe
    place to be before the crossing, and no wheelchair cutout
    on the other side. I’ve also seen that sidewalk partially
    blocked by parked cars, so I don’t trust it.
    #2 ride the sidewalk – a better option (ignoring PG’s
    prohibition), though the sidewalk is in terrible condition
    and it is not passable after snowfall for weeks. However,
    time spent in the median isn’t against three lanes and the
    visibility is quite good.
    #3 wait in the break in the median – that’s similar but there
    are many places where cars could come from, so doesn’t seem
    safe to me.

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