Context Driven Guide

Context Driven Guide

​(March 8, 2021) – The Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration  (MDOT SHA) has launched a new web resource for its innovative “Context Driven” guide, which aims to improve mobility, safety and multi-modal access for communities across Maryland. The new Context Driven: Access & Mobility for All Users web portal provides access to the “1.0” version of the guide, as well as a project map and other features.

“The Context Driven guide, created by our MDOT SHA team, is an invaluable resource in making our communities safer, more accessible and more livable for everyone – transit users, motorists, bicyclists, pedestrians and those with mobility challenges,” MDOT Secretary Greg Slater said. “As we work with local partners to design and implement a statewide transportation network that’s shared by all, we must – as the title suggests – consider the context of each community and its needs.”

Since 2019, MDOT SHA has implemented more than 200 projects that consider the “context” of an area summarized in six categories: urban core, urban center, traditional town center, suburban activity center, suburban area or rural area. The Context Driven guide encourages flexibility and innovation to develop low-cost, high-impact solutions for each unique area. Solutions may include speed limit reductions, protected bike lanes, high-visibility crosswalks, signal timing adjustments or a host of other strategies.

The new 1.0 version of the Context Driven guide on the web portal includes minor clarifications from the earlier “draft” document, but its highest priority remains the same: to identify solutions for areas in Maryland that balance vehicular and pedestrian traffic and reduce the likelihood and severity of crashes involving pedestrians. The new Context Driven web portal also includes a Statewide Progress project map where the public can learn details of some of the projects MDOT SHA has undertaken.

“The guide is already changing the way we deliver improvements, and the project map on the web portal helps to visually show our progress,” said MDOT SHA Administrator Tim Smith said.

Understanding that all areas are different and serve different needs, the guide is not intended as a strict manual, but is designed to help staff and communities explore and better understand opportunities and improvements that can be implemented based on the characteristics of the surrounding environment.

“If we’re working in an urban core with roadways and transit connections shared by buses, motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, we know there are solutions and strategies that can help us improve access, safety and flow,” Secretary Slater explained. “The same is true for town centers, suburban activity centers and even rural areas. We hope the new web portal will give residents across Maryland a look at how the Context Driven guide helps us make choices for each location – sometimes a combination of them – to expand options and help the network function better and more safely for everyone.”   

The Context Driven guide web portal is one element of the strategy at MDOT SHA – and all of MDOT – to share opportunities and resources to promote safety and multi-modal access.

“We are incorporating a Vision Zero philosophy – the goal to ultimately achieve zero highway deaths – into our decision-making process using proven methods and data-driven systems,” said Administrator Smith. “This philosophy is the foundation of the Context Driven guide and will improve safety within our existing footprint and for the future.

Residents and interested groups are invited to view and download the Context Driven guide 1.0 at the web portal. For other inquiries, email

Editor’s Note

From intersection improvements to widening and new interchange construction, MDOT SHA is investing in projects to enhance the commute and daily travel for millions of Marylanders.  MDOT SHA maintains more than 2,500 bridges and 17,000 miles of non-toll state roads – the interstate, US and state numbered routes in Maryland’s 23 counties.