The study focused on the cameras installed in 2010 at four heavily traveled Arlington intersections — southbound Fort Myer Drive at westbound Lee Highway, northbound N. Lynn Street at eastbound Lee Highway, northbound N. Glebe Road at Fairfax Drive and westbound Washington Blvd at Lee Highway. The public was informed of the camera installation and violators were given warnings for 30 days. After the grace period, violators caught on camera received a $50 citation.
Researchers at the IIHS (which is located in Arlington) taped traffic during the warning period, one month after ticketing began and again one year later. They found that one year after ticketing began there was a marked decrease in drivers running red lights. Violations occurring at least 0.5 seconds after the light turned red were 39 percent less likely, those occurring at least 1 second after were 48 percent less likely and there was an 86 percent drop in violations occurring at least 1.5 seconds after the light changed.
“This study provides fresh evidence that automated enforcement can get drivers to modify their behavior,” says Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research at IIHS and the study’s lead author. “What these numbers show is that those violations most likely to lead to a crash are reduced the most. The longer the light has been red when a violator enters an intersection, the more likely the driver is to encounter a vehicle traveling in another direction or a pedestrian.”
Traffic was also taped at four other intersections — westbound Lee Highway at Kirkwood Road, northbound N. Glebe Road at Washington Blvd, westbound Arlington Blvd at Manchester Street and eastbound Columbia Pike at S. George Mason Drive — to see if there was any spillover effect from the cameras. While there were some decreases in violations observed in areas close to cameras, they were not always deemed statistically significant.
In 2011, the first full year the four red light cameras were in operation, they brought in nearly $460,000 in revenue. That number halved in 2012, coming in at about $224,000. The camera at Southbound Fort Myer Drive and Lee Highway brought in the most revenue, with a two year total of nearly $304,000.
In April, the county plans to activate seven additional traffic cameras at five intersections shown to have high rates of violations. There will be two at Columbia Pike and Glebe Road monitoring Eastbound and Westbound Columbia Pike, two at S. 23rd Street and Jefferson Davis Highway monitoring Northbound and Southbound Jefferson Davis Highway, one at Columbia Pike and George Mason Drive monitoring Eastbound Columbia Pike, one at Lee Highway and George Mason Drive monitoring Westbound Lee Highway and one at Washington Blvd and Glebe Road monitoring Northbound Glebe Road. The standard one month warning period will apply, and violators will be ticketed after that time.
Walter Tejada, the new Arlington County Board Chair for 2013, says he will use his chairmanship to push for progress in four local policy areas: affordable housing, fitness and health, urban agriculture, and pedestrian and bicycle safety.
Tejada and other County Board members outlined their vision for the county at the Board’s traditional New Year’s Day meeting on Tuesday. As Chair, Tejada’s priorities will receive the sharpest focus.
In a seven-page speech, Tejada repeatedly called on the county to “move forward together… for all of Arlington.”
Tejada’s first major policy initiative is affordable housing. Tejada repeated a call he and Board member Chris Zimmerman previously made: for new affordable housing investment funded via adoption of Tax Increment Financing for Columbia Pike. The TIF would steer a percentage of taxes gained through increases in property values along Columbia Pike to the creation of new affordable housing, to bolster the county’s existing 6,585 committed affordable units.
“Already on Columbia Pike, market forces are threatening one of the County’s largest supplies of market-rate affordable housing,” Tejada said. ”I have asked [County Manager Barbara Donnellan] to analyze and submit a recommendation by June 2013 for creating a transit oriented affordable housing fund on Columbia Pike through adoption of a TIF.”
“We need to house our healthcare workers and teacher aides, our cashiers and restaurant workers, our cleaning staff and small business employees, and other hard-working people so vital to our County’s economic health,” he continued. “We need to maintain the cultural and economic diversity that is so vital to Arlington’s soul, for all of Arlington.”
Tejada acknowledged that more affordable housing will not come cheap, but quoted former president John F. Kennedy in saying, “To those whom much is given, much is expected.”
An affordable housing TIF on the Pike wouldn’t be the county’s first use of the funding vehicle. A TIF is in place to fund infrastructure improvements in Crystal City, including a planned Crystal City streetcar.
After affordable housing, Tejada called for the county to “promote healthy living” through an initiative called FitArlington.
The new focus on fitness and health will include the creation of a “Arlington Healthy Community Action Team” (HCAT) comprised of local health and fitness providers, youth services providers, nutrition educators and urban agriculture enthusiasts. In addition to promoting physical fitness in general, the county will work in partnership with the HCAT and Arlington Public Schools to help reduce the rate of childhood obesity in Arlington.
The childhood obesity initiative will kick off with a community meeting from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 17 at the Fairlington Community Center (3308 S. Stafford Street).
Tejada also highlighted the work of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, which was announced as an initiative at the 2012 New Year’s Day meeting. Among the issues being considered by the task force is the controversial proposal to allow Arlington residents to raise egg-laying hens in their backyards. Tejada said he expects the task force’s forthcoming recommendations to help promote healthy eating in Arlington.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) In the wake of a horrific elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, Arlington Public Schools officials are assuring parents that teachers, staff and students are well-prepared for emergencies.
Individual schools have been sending emails to parents throughout the day, says Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations Linda Erdos. Schools drill regularly for a range of emergencies, Erdos said, adding that several Arlington schools conducted a pre-planned lockdown drill this morning.
“All of our plans and preparations are developed in coordination with Arlington public safety officials,” she said. ”Our schools all throughout the county regularly schedule lockdown drills. We do those all the time, just like tornado drills and fire drills. We do a lot of drills with our students so they know what steps are to be taken in an emergency.”
“We all take it very seriously,” Erdos continued. “We will continue to be vigilant and follow normal procedures.”
In an email to parents, the principal of one Arlington elementary school called the events of this morning a “terrible tragedy.”
“Like many of you, all of us… have been shocked and saddened by the terrible tragedy that took place at an elementary school in Connecticut this morning,” wrote the principal. “Our sincere thoughts and prayers go out to the Newtown community and all of the families that have been touched by this event.”
“We also want to remind you that we need your emergency contact information updated any time it changes. We need accurate phone numbers and addresses,” the principal wrote, adding: “Please make sure that you come through our front doors and sign in the office so that we know exactly who is in our building at all times.”
Congressman Jim Moran, meanwhile, released a statement about the shooting this afternoon.
As our country struggles to comprehend what occurred today in Newtown, CT, my deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of those killed in this mindless tragedy. As a nation, we are again confronted with an act of terrifying mass gun violence. While the coming days should be reserved for grieving, as a legislative body, and as a people, we must consider what can be done to improve our laws to prevent the continuation of this horrific trend.
Bishop Paul S. Loverde, of the Diocese of Arlington, also issued a statement about the shooting Friday afternoon:
Today’s horrific news from Newtown, Connecticut, breaks our hearts. In the face of such evil and violence, there are no words adequate to describe the loss. Let us each, today and throughout the coming days, commit to praying for the souls of the departed victims and the families of all those involved.
Capital Bikeshare did not experience damage to any of its bicycles or docking stations, we’re told. The system did shut down for about 36 hours to prevent people from biking in dangerous conditions, and to protect the workers who have to travel around the metro area to re-distribute bikes where they’re needed.
The system began running again on Tuesday afternoon, and workers spent some time playing catch up on bike re-distribution.
Although larger obstacles such as fallen trees or downed wires still pose a problem for cyclists, BikeArlington’s Chris Eatough said such hazards are relatively easy to spot and shouldn’t take too many people by surprise. The lingering issue that might catch cyclists off guard is wet ground covered with slick leaves.
“The main thing we’ve heard and that I’ve noticed is slippery conditions. A lot of leaves came down along with everything else. They’ve come down so heavily saturated that in many cases they’re matted to the trails and roads,” Eatough said. “It’s definitely something to watch out for. That could take you off your bike before you even know what’s going on.”
Cyclists are reminded to control their speeds and use extra caution when turning. As always, cyclists should use a light when traveling in the dark. Eatough said the light is particularly important to have as darkness sets in earlier, especially with daylight saving time beginning on Sunday (November 4).
Trick or Treating Tonight – So far, Arlington County has not placed any restrictions on trick or treating tonight in the wake of Superstorm Sandy. There’s no official trick or treating time in Arlington; children typically begin trick or treating shortly after sundown.
Halloween Safety Tips – WalkArlington has a number of helpful safety tips for parents whose children will be trick or treating tonight. Among them: Parents should make sure their trick-or-treaters are wearing bright colors or reflectors and have a costume that allows them to clearly see their surroundings. Parents should also review safety rules with children before they leave the house. [WalkArlington]
Reopening After Sandy — Arlington Public Schools will be open today, with the exception of Barcroft Elementary School, which is still without power. Arlington County government offices, libraries, courts, community centers, and nature centers will also be open, as will federal government offices.
SoberRide Still On — The SoberRide program, which provides a free cab ride (up to a $30 fare) for holiday revelers, is still on despite Sandy. It’s open to anyone in the greater D.C. area calling 1-800-200-TAXI between 10:00 tonight and 4:00 tomorrow morning. A planned SoberRide-related press event in Arlington, however, which was to unveil a new vehicle that would be used to discourage drunk driving, has been postponed until after Election Day (Nov. 6).
Ragnar Relay Washington DC takes place Friday, September 21 and Saturday, September 22, starting at Rocky Gap State Park in Maryland and ending at National Harbor in Maryland. Runners are expected to make their way into Arlington on Saturday morning.
After entering Arlington via Chain Bridge Road, runners will encounter a baton exchange point at Taylor Elementary School (2600 N. Stuart Street). They’ll continue along the Custis Trail until they reach the Key Bridge Marriott (1401 Lee Highway), which is another exchange point. The race continues south on the Mount Vernon Trail past Reagan National Airport, and then participants exit into Crystal City. The final baton exchange point in Arlington will be set up at the Crystal City Water Park on Crystal Drive. After that, the race heads back to the Mount Vernon Trail and south into Alexandria. The full course map and information about each leg of the race can be viewed online. The Arlington legs are 31-34.
Race organizers ask local residents to be extra cautious of the runners on the side of the road, especially because the relay requires them to race at all hours of the day, including at night. Those who are running in the dark will be wearing reflective clothing and headlamps.
Police say they will not be closing roads due to how long the race is and how spread out the runners are by the time they get to Arlington.
The County Board directed police to shift more resources to school zones for the first week of school, according to a county press release (below). Police officers, sheriff’s deputies, parking aides and crossing guards will direct traffic around schools starting on the first day of school (Tuesday, Sept. 4). Police will be monitoring 18 additional locations around the county during the first week of school, the county said.
In addition to traffic monitoring and enforcement, the county is conducting a public education campaign — with electronic signs being placed in strategic locations around the county to remind drivers and bicyclists about increased foot traffic on the first day of school.
In a press release, the county noted that between 1,000 and 1,500 additional students are expected to walk to school or catch a ride with parents this school year, in comparison to recent years. Over the summer, Arlington Public Schools implemented a controversial new busing policy that will restrict school bus service to students who live outside designated “walk zones.”
The county issued the following press release about its back-to-school pedestrian safety push.
Responding to the Arlington Public School Board’s 2012-2013 transportation decision, Arlington County government today announced new measures to raise driver awareness and help ensure the safety of students and parents walking to County schools.
“With the first day of school upon us, between 1,000 and 1,500 more kids this year will be walking or riding with a parent to school than in recent years. It’s important for each of us to take special care when we see schoolchildren walking in the mornings and afternoons, and to be patient with parents driving their kids to school,” said Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes.
“Arlington County Police, at the direction of the Board, will be out to make sure that things go smoothly — putting more crossing guards at intersections, closely monitoring driving behavior near schools, and taking steps to raise driver awareness,” Hynes said.
Police Officers, Sheriffs Deputies, Crossing Guards and Public Service Aides will be directing traffic in and around school zones across the County starting Tuesday, September 4, the first day of school, to assist with an expected increase in traffic. Community members and commuters are reminded to stay alert and to yield to pedestrians at pedestrian crossings and in school zones.
ACPD’s Special Operations Section’s Motor Unit will coordinate additional crossings and monitor major roads and highways near schools as needed. Additional police coverage will be at 18 locations across the County the first week of school, and evaluated for safety. Highway message boards will be placed at key intersections, reminding motorists that a new school year has begun.
The start of the school year coincides with the Virginia Bicyclist and Pedestrian Awareness Week (September 9th through 15th). Special emphasis will be placed during the week on public awareness and enforcement of traffic laws governing how to share the road.
Drivers are reminded to:
- Obey speed limits, which may change during school zone times
- Watch for students walking and riding bikes to school
- Do not pass a stopped school bus loading or unloading passengers
Walking students and all pedestrians are reminded to:
- Cross the street at marked crosswalks and wait for the signal
- Look before you cross and follow the direction provided by School Crossing Guards
- Always walk on designated sidewalks or paths and never in the road when a sidewalk is present
Bicyclists are reminded to:
- Follow the rules that apply to motor vehicles when riding on the road
- Obey all traffic signs and traffic signals
- Yield to pedestrians
The department was recognized as having the best traffic safety program in Virginia, for municipal police departments with 301 to 450 sworn officers. The award was announced during the recent Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police conference.
ACPD said it accomplished its traffic safety goals through “education, enforcement and engineering,” and through a number of initiatives, including:
- Traffic Accident Reduction Program (TARP)
- Response to citizen complaints utilizing a traffic complaint database
- Selective enforcement in areas designated as problem locations
- Safe Routes to School program
- Bicycle and Pedestrian safety
- Participation in Virginia’s Street Smart campaigns
- Participation in the Click or Ticket occupant safety programs
“Providing over 70 years of professional police services to the citizens and guests of Arlington County, ACPD continues a long commitment to the enforcement of all traffic laws,” the department said in a press release. “The primary goal of the department traffic safety program is to facilitate the safe and efficient flow of vehicular and pedestrian traffic.”
Capt. Gregg Karl says the first step to fireworks safety is to make sure you’re using fireworks that are legal in Arlington County. Any fireworks purchased from an authorized fireworks stand in the county should comply with county regulations, Karl said. Those regulations specify that the fireworks emit a flame or spark less than 12 feet in the air.
Any fireworks that are “projectiles, explode, emit flames or sparks to a distance greater than twelve (12) feet are prohibited by Arlington County,” according to the county’s fireworks safety web page. The fire department also has a 42 page long list of fireworks approved for use in Arlington.
To prevent your fireworks from lighting anything on fire, Karl recommends placing them away from structures and watering down any nearby grass or brush.
“If you’re going to do any [legal fireworks], make sure you’re away from buildings and combustibles,” he said. “If you’re on grass, make sure you wet the ground around it. Please use extreme caution due to the dry conditions.”
Karl noted that fireworks should not be lit on county streets or sidewalks.
Other personal fireworks safety tips from the county include:
- Never allow children to play with or ignite fireworks. Sparklers, considered by many the ideal “safe” firework for the young, burn at very high temperatures and can easily ignite clothing. Children cannot understand the danger involved and cannot act appropriately in case of emergency.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions.
- Be sure other people are out of range before lighting fireworks. Never shoot a firework at or near another person.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from the house, dry leaves, and flammable materials.
- Never try to re-light fireworks that have not fully functioned. Douse and soak them with water and throw them away.
- Keep a bucket of water handy in case of a malfunction or fire.
- Never ignite fireworks in a container, especially a glass or metal container.
- Keep unused fireworks away from firing areas.
- Store fireworks in a dry, cool place. Check instructions for special storage directions.
- Observe local laws.
- Never have any portion of your body directly over a firework while lighting.
- Don’t experiment with homemade fireworks.
Arlington fire marshals will be patrolling the county and responding to resident complaints about fireworks tomorrow, Karl said. Any illegal fireworks will be confiscated and a warning will be issued. Repeat offenders may be issued a summons to appear in court.
Police will also be on the lookout for illegal fireworks, but will be more focused on traffic control efforts connected to the fireworks display on the National Mall. The fireworks are scheduled to run between 9:10 and 9:30 p.m. Viewing areas in and around Arlington include the Iwo Jima memorial, the Air Force Memorial, Gravelly Point, Rosslyn Gateway Park and Long Bridge Park.
“Our Special Operations Section is going to be out there directing and monitoring all traffic,” said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The first of several planned safety improvements along the GW Parkway will be made today (Friday).
This morning, the National Park Service is expected to starting installing the first of 46 signs (including 9 pedestrian warning signs and numerous trail and route guidance signs) that will be placed near five crosswalks around Memorial Circle. The signs, along with planned directional pavement markings, rumble strips and a trail crossing relocation, are all steps being taken in response to numerous accidents between cars, pedestrians and bicyclists near Memorial Circle.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, officials said the changes, though simple and relatively inexpensive, will help improve the safety of all parkway users.
“We believe these improvements will increase the awareness of the dangers of crossing a very busy parkway for all travelers, whether it be on foot, bicycle or motor vehicle,” said Capt. Scott Fear of the U.S. Park Police. “Our officers have handled many, many crashes related to this area, and we continue to look for ways to improve the safety of the park’s visitors and travelers. The steps being taken should held decrease the crashes and educate the public of the surroundings and challenges they may face as they visit the park.”
“We’re going to see a major reduction in accidents,” promised Rep. Jim Moran, at the press conference. “This is going to affect thousands of people on a daily basis. It’s the right thing to do, it doesn’t interfere with anyone, and it makes everyone feel more safe and secure.”
The changes are all expected to be complete by the end of October. The Park Service, meanwhile, says it will explore more dramatic, long-term changes that could be made to improve safety, including creating a traffic island in the middle of the northbound lanes of the GW Parkway.
Fear said Park Police are considering stepping up speed enforcement along the parkway, but no final decision has been reached yet.
See the full National Park Service press release, after the jump.
(Updated at 3:05 p.m.) The National Park Service will be installing a series of safety improvements along the George Washington Parkway, intended to make Memorial Circle and several Mt. Vernon Trail crossings across the parkway less dangerous.
The improvements were announced this morning by Rep. Jim Moran (D). Work on the improvements will start next week and will wrap up by the fall. Among the planned changes, according to Moran’s office:
- “Replacing many of the directional and regulatory signs in the Circle and on Memorial Bridge”
- “Installing rumble strips bumps to alert drivers before each of several specific crosswalk areas”
- “Painting directional arrows, information, and symbols directly onto the pavement to help drivers select proper lanes early”
- “Moving one crosswalk area from where there are two lanes to where it is only one lane wide”
The announcement comes just three days after a cyclist was struck by a car and injured at a trail crossing just south of Memorial Circle. Several other accidents and close calls have been reported at GW Parkway trail crossings over the past two years.
“It’s a confusing area and unfortunately we have a lot of accidents involving bicyclists and motorists and joggers,” U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Brooks acknowledged earlier this week.
Moran says the changes should help make things safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
“The health and safety of those commuting to work or simply exercising along the Potomac River should never be threatened due to poor infrastructure planning,” the congressman said in a statement. “I am pleased the National Park Service has agreed to put needed fixes into the trails and roads surrounding Memorial Circle. With the scheduled improvements, tourists, commuters, pedestrians, and cyclists will be able to truly share the road.”
Next week the water park at Upton Hill Regional Park will host one portion of what’s being called the “World’s Largest Swimming Lesson.”
At 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 14, children will gather at Upton Hill (6060 Wilson Blvd) to take part in a swimming lesson that will be held at the same time as lessons at 500 other pools and aquatic facilities around the world. The event is part of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) “Pool Safely” campaign, a national public education effort.
Rep. Jim Moran (D), CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum and other local officials are expected to help kick off the world record attempt.
The event will attempt to break its own Guinness-certified record from last year. In 2011, more than 20,000 kids and adults on five different continents participated in the World’s Largest Swimming Lesson. While the goal of the event is to set a new world record, the ultimate goal of the campaign is to reduce child drownings, near-drownings and entrapments in pools and spas.
From a press release:
This year the campaign’s focus is on populations most at risk of drowning: children younger than 5 years old (who represent nearly 75 percent of child drowning fatalities) and African-American and Hispanic children between the ages of 5 and 14, who, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drown at higher rates than white children. CPSC reports that annually there are 390 pool or spa-related drownings for children younger than 15.
Photo via Ocean Dunes Waterpark
The latest work involved removing a small island on N. Quincy Street and building a curb extension. Wider sidewalks and ADA compliant ramps have also been installed. Tom Hutchings, Project Manager for the Wilson Boulevard Improvement Project, explained that it’s an effort to improve pedestrian safety along a stretch of road typically considered tough to cross.
“That’s what this whole Wilson Boulevard project is about,” Hutchings said. “We’re tightening the street up and making the crossing distance shorter.”
One more curb extension needs to be installed on the opposite side of N. Quincy Street, but the existing improvements to Wilson Boulevard are already being considered successful in making the area safer.
“It has changed pedestrian behavior and we see a higher level of pedestrian activity,” Hutchings said.
The current phase is nearly complete, but there are a few things that need to still go in. The highest priority was finishing essentials like the new curbs, gutters and traffic lights. Things that don’t directly affect safety, such as Quincy Street bus shelters, street lights and trees, were viewed as a lower priority. Those have all been ordered and need to be installed.
“For the public, it’s perfectly functional, but there are elements that need to be finalized,” said Hutchings. “They should all be complete within three months, unless we have to wait until fall with the tree planting.”
This is part of the same project that brought the much awaited traffic lights to the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Pollard Street near Gold’s Gym. The work from N. Quincy Street to the area around the Arlington Arts Center builds off of the design of the Virginia Square Sector Plan. Work has been done in phases to coordinate with new development and engineering demands.
The final phase of the project moves down Wilson to N. 10th Street near Mario’s Pizza. Construction on that section will be extensive, so the county is working on setting up a website to give updates on the progress. The website, which is expected to be up and running in the next few weeks, also will list any upcoming traffic disruptions. However, that phase is still in the planning stages, and construction is not slated to begin for about two years.
During its meeting on Saturday, the County Board voted unanimously to award the $1.9 million contract to Ardent Company, LLC. In addition to the street conversion, the three phase project will improve intersections along Crystal Drive with new traffic signals and ADA compliant ramps and crosswalks. A southbound bicycle lane will also be added.
The new design is expected to make the street safer and easier to navigate, as well as preparing the area for future development and a streetcar.
Construction for phase one is supposed to begin in June and is scheduled to finish by the end of this year. That covers the portion from 12th Street South to 15th Street South. Two other construction phases will follow — one from 23rd Street South to 26th Street South, and another from 26th Street South to 27th Street South.
The county will post notices about periodic lane closures before they happen. The goal is to only close down one lane at a time to minimize the impact to drivers.
Funding for the project was previously approved and appropriated in the Transportation Capital Fund.
Arlington County’s PAL pedestrian safety campaign — which reminds everyone on the road to be Predictable, Alert and Lawful — now has a video to go along with it.
The video makes the point that many drivers are also, at some point, walkers or bikers. Putting yourself in the shoes of the other guy — and behaving in a courteous, predictable manner — can help reduce conflicts on the road, the video suggests.
The clip was produced by the county’s Arlington Virginia Network.