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Study Records 70mph on Greenbelt Road Near NASA

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UMD student volunteers Uchenna Ekwunife, Ethan Pham, Trinity Killip, Meseret Arnold, with their handheld speed radar. Not shown Miguel Rodriguez. Photo by Jeff Lemieux


by Jeff Lemieux

Student volunteers from UMD’s Information Studies program recently recorded speeds of 68 and 70 miles per hour during a 30-minute weekday radar study of Greenbelt Road near NASA. The recording site was the westbound lanes, near the “ghost” bus stop across from the Shell Station, just east of Cipriano Road.

During the 2:30-3:00pm period on April 23, 2024, 113 speed recordings were collected. The average speed recorded was 43mph, close to the posted speed limit of 45mph. The lowest speeds (2 observations) were in the 27-29mph range, and the highest speeds recorded were in the 68-70mph range (also 2 observations, see chart).

Source: Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail.

Of course, recording speed from the side of the road with a hand-held radar has a degree of uncertainty. Since many cars came through in bunches following the changing of the traffic light at Cipriano Road, the students were not able to record speeds from all individual cars. Thus, the chart above probably understates the number of cars traveling in the mid-range of speeds, between about 35mph and 50mph.

However, the students were able to track individual speeds from many of the outliers, including 7 observations of 55mph or above within the half-hour study period.

Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail propose a two-way protected (by barriers) bike and walkway on the north side of Greenbelt Road, between Eleanor Roosevelt HS and Glenn Dale, including the long stretch in front of the NASA entrances.  We believe the trail would provide a natural or organic traffic calming effect by making the road seem less like a highway and more like a neighborhood street. This, in turn, we hope would help reduce dangerous outlier speeds.  For more information, please see www.greenbeltnasatrail.org or inquire at info@greenbeltnasatrail.org.

Jeff Lemieux is president of Friends of the Greenbelt East Trail, Inc., a nonprofit 501c3 charitable organization. Donate here. Donations are tax deductible. 

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