Accident on GW Parkway Narrowly Misses Cyclist

by ARLnow.com July 21, 2011 at 11:47 am 9,893 175 Comments

A three-car accident on the GW Parkway this morning could have been much more serious had a cyclist not hesitated at a pedestrian crossing.

Two injuries were reported after a pickup truck rear-ended at least one of two cars that had stopped at the crossing. According to a video posted on Facebook by a witness, the female cyclist hesitated before crossing in front of the two cars. That act of vigilance may have saved her life.

“This right here is the worst bike crossing in the entire city,” said a man narrating the video from behind the camera. “The speed limit here is 45 miles per hour, and you have to come to a complete stop for the bike crossing. There should probably be a tunnel here, or something like that, instead.”

“I wonder when or if the NPS will figure out how to reduce accidents there,” another witness told ARLnow.com, in an email.

The two injuries reported by medics on the scene were both said to be vehicle occupants. U.S. Park Police and Arlington County Fire Department spokesmen did not have any additional information about the accident.

  • G

    They really need to just put all-way stop signs here for pedestrians, bikers and cars. They should also reduce the speed limit near these crossings. So sick of waiting forever for one car to stop only for several in another lane to refuse.

    • Jackflops

      Even if someone wanted to let you cross, most drivers know that they put themselves at great risk of being rear-ended by whoever’s behind them going 65mph.

      • CrystalMikey

        That’s the big problem there…I’ve looked to stop there myself but have other cars right on my tail that I felt like I was going to get rear-ended if I stop.

        And as a trail user there, that crap scares me every time I cross.

        • doodly

          You shouldn’t be going too fast to stop in the first place. You should have slowed down long before you got into that situation.

          I think speed is the problem. Enforcing speed limits and/or a reduction in the speed limit would help.

          • CrystalMikey

            Oh, I try to stay the speed limit around there, but all more the reason other drivers will be on my a$$.

          • doodly

            Let them be on your a$$ then. It’s not your obligation to speed because someone behind you wants to. Screw them.

          • CrystalMikey

            I agree 100% doodly.

          • Novanglus

            “Screw them”

            Simplistic thinking. I got rear-ended on the GWP in 2009. They were at fault and their insurance company settled, but I am stuck with a permantenly depreciated car and injured passengers who are still recovering. So now the bicyclists and runners will have to wait or find another route. I’m not stopping again.

          • Mike

            Speed is NOT the problem. The problem is a ground-level crosswalk over a highway. There isn’t a single redeeming feature about the concept.

          • JamesE

            They should put a crosswalk on 495

          • Elle Kasey

            Yes! You are exactly right. It is begging for accidents.

          • Westover

            Very good point. The Parkway was there for about 40 years before the trail was paved there. A safer solution needs to be developed, but until then the onus is really on the biker/walkers to ensure their own safety, they do have a stop sign there while the cars do not.

          • FairlingtonLady

            Fair point — except the GW Parkway is NOT a highway. It is a parkway — a national park — and the posted speed limits reflect that distinction. Problem is, very few drivers treat the road like a parkway, but rather like a highway. When I travel the posted speed limit (in the right hand lane) I have cars flying by me on the left and honking behind me. The only time drivers stick anywhere near the posted speed limits is when traffic is very heavy and they simply can’t go any faster.

          • Lou

            In what way should drivers behave differently on a parkway as opposed to a highway? Do cars on a parkway need to have passengers taking pictures out the window? Is passing on a parkway some sort of unwritten faux pas?

          • Jackflops

            The posted speed limits are ridiculously low all over the Parkway. In some places, it’s 35–just south of Old Town. Nobody goes 35. Nobody goes 45, either. South of Old Town, I set my cruise control to 55 or 60–and still people pass me.

          • Kiffee

            Drop a speed bump or two 100 & 50 yards away from the crossing. That should do the trick.

        • NPGMBR

          The trick is to begin reducing speed at least two hundred yards before you get to that point. Us locals know the PedX is there, so prepare early. A gradual slowdown *shouldn’t* irritate drivers behind you too much because you should already being slowing to take the turn into Memorial Bridge or to corss the circle at the foot of the bridge.

    • Henry

      The thing is, too, that it’s not even just on GW parkway with its high speed limit. Crossing some spots on Lee Highway, for example, with its 30-35 speed limit, people still absolutely refuse to stop. Drivers will look right at you and totally could, but they just don’t do it.

    • BoredHouseWife

      they should build a pedestrian bridge. imagine the traffic if every car had to stop.

    • The thing is, the drivers arent required by law to stop while pedestrians are WAITING.

    • SeanO

      It seems like it is safer for bikers & runners to wait until there is a break in the car traffic on the parkway before they cross.

  • Jackflops

    Nobody goes 45 there–at least 60 mph in 99% of cases. No time to stop to let anyone cross. Someone trying to do that is what got that poor woman killed a few months ago; the car behind the stopped car swerved to avoid rear-ending and hit the pedestrian.

    Honestly, they should ban crossing there. It’s like crossing a freeway.

    • lala

      Agreed. The false assumption that cars will stop (for runners or cyclist) when they are cruising at 65+ mph makes these crosswalks dangerous for all forms of transport.

      • G

        the speed limit is 45

        • Vinh An Nguyen

          And of course drivers never exceed the speed limit.

        • Jackflops

          You are correct–but just try going that speed and see what happens. Almost as scary as stopping at that crosswalk.

          They need to either make it a stoplight (with a camera) or lose the crosswalk. No in-between. I’d love to let people cross–but as has been tragically demonstrated, trying to do that comes with a very high chance of someone getting killed.

          • LVGuy

            I’ve never had a problem going 45 there. Just take your foot off the gas pedal. Voila.

          • Jackflops

            And get rear ended by the guy going 70 behind me. Voila.

          • doodly

            Do you people not understand the concept of slowing down at a reasonable braking distance? Or the fact that your car has brake lights to warn the cars behind you? Or the idea of not going so damn fast in the first place so you won’t have to slam on the brakes?

            It’s truly absurd to suggest that a car can’t possibly slow down for any reason because the car behind it would hit it. Do you ever slow down for any reason? Do you constantly bash into cars in front of you when they slow down?

            Clearly there is something wrong with the driving culture around here when we can’t imagine the idea of a car stopping without the car behind us plowing into us.

          • LVGuy

            Never happened to me. If you have a driver’s license, you should be capable of doing it.

        • lala

          It may be but nobody goes 45 mph on the parkway.

        • Clarifier

          The speed limit is 40.

          • lala

            Wrong. From the NPS website: “The Parkway is a narrow and winding road. The speed limit varies from 25 mph to 50 mph.”

    • G

      Ban crossing? How else will bikers and pedestrians get to the MVT from Washington Blvd or Memorial Bridge??

      • Jackflops

        I’d be in favor of a bridge–though a stoplight would surely be cheaper.

      • 5555624

        Use the tunnel under the Humpback Bridge and go under the GW Parkway. The tunnel is open and I see no need to use this crossing. (I used to sue this crossing approximately four times a week, cycling home from work.)

        • 5555624

          Oops, I mean “use” the crossing.

        • kc

          Depends where you’re coming from/going to. Going from Rosslyn to the Lincoln Memorial that would take you a couple miles out of your way and there is no bike trail from near the cemetary entrance down to the underpass without crossing an equally dangerous, possibly more dangerous, crossing.

    • Tim

      It’s unsafe so … close it? In a similar vein, DC should completely close the Metropolitan Branch Trail, since people keep getting mugged there. And freeways that have a lot of collisions? Close them too.

      • Rosslynite


    • steve85

      that correct. Dumb idea to cross. They should build a bridge or tunnel for bikes to cross.

      • ZoningVictim

        And they should come up with a bike tax to pay for it.

        • doodly

          Why? It’s the cars that are in the way of bikes and need a tunnel to go under to get out of their way.

          See how it works when you don’t just think that cars are the default?

          • SeanO

            cars are the default on the parkway…

        • doodly

          Oh, and what about a pedestrian tax for sidewalks? Haven’t heard you ask for that.

          • ZoningVictim

            Nearly everyone uses sidewalks and they are paid for frmo the property taxes of the buildings they’re in front of. Everyone who has a vehicle is paying for the road every time they buy gas because it was made for cars. If bikes want special infrastructure that nobody else needs, let them pay for it. Me make hunters and fishermen pay for licensing to offset the states conservation measures.

            Cars actually ARE the default, BTW.

          • doodly

            No, cars are not the default. HUMANS are the default. Bikes were here before cars, by the way.

            The fact is that the majority of transportation infrastructure – including roads, are paid for by general taxes these days, not just gas taxes. And, of course, if you really wanted to be consistent, you’d call for pedestrians to pay a tax to pay for pedestrian bridges over roads, or crossings like this one since the MVT is used by pedestrians too. But it’s okay, because like I said, we all pay our share through many different taxes.

          • ZoningVictim

            Who cares when bikes were invented? Cars are the default mode of transportation for the overwhelming majority of HUMANS in America. That probably includes the majority of bike riders, who all pack in their cars when the weather is bad or they need to go more than a few miles.

            For most pedestrian bridges, yes, I would like the people who actually use it to have to pay for it. It doesn’t have to be a pedestrian tax; it could be a toll bridge. I think it’s stupid that everyone has to help pay for pedestrian bridges along Rt. 50 because the people that live near there are too lazy to walk to the cross walks.

            As for where the money comes from, does anyone have a source for that? I’d like to know where the money really comes from.

            If we’re going to start making everyone pay for niche expenses by taking money out of the general fund for things a small portion of the public use, then I’d like to stop paying taxes on my car, my boat, my fishing license, my hunting licenses, my gasoline, my beer, my tobacco and everything else that was taxed so that only a portion of the population would be affected by it. Otherwise, I’d like everyone to pay their own way for the things they do that most people don’t just like I do.

          • anon

            This image just popped into my head, given the talk of cars being “the default mode of transportation for the overwhelming majority of HUMANS.”

          • doodly

            Sorry, but our cities are for people, not for cars or bikes or whatever. People. So get over it.

            Here’s where the money comes from:


            Only about half of your little gas tax pays for transportation. You’re already getting a HUGE subsidy, so don’t go around saying “like I do”. You don’t. I’d love to see the gas tax doubled so you could live up to your ideal that people who use should pay. I’d laugh.

          • Elle Kasey

            Candles were here before electric lights, but I still find the latter vastly superior for nearly all situations requiring light.

          • SeanO

            I stand corrected, the humans in the cars are the default on the parkway…

          • doodly

            Hey Sean, they’re going to shut down the Parkway (because its, you know, a park) a few times this year for bike rides. I hope you get stuck in traffic while I’m riding my bike. I’ll laugh.

          • LVGuy

            Gas taxes/car registrations/car taxes etc. only pay for a small fraction of the costs associated with roads.

          • ZoningVictim


            10% of the revenue comes from: motor vehicle fuels tax, the motor vehicle sales and use tax, road taxes, vehicle license fees, state sales tax, interest earnings, and other miscellaneous taxes and fees.

            That doesn’t include the Federal Grants, which are the largest portion of our revenue and includes Federal highway money.

            12.1% of the budget is spent on transportation.

            While those two figures don’t tell the entire story of what’s going where, it casts serious doubt on your guess that taxes, registrations and car taxes only pay a small portion of the costs for our roads.

          • LVGuy

            Yeah, it says that the revenue comes from other sources too. That means if I didn’t own a car (even though I do), when I buy my coffee, my sales tax is going to your road.

          • ZoningVictim

            This really shouldn’t have to be explained to you.

            10% of our tax revenue comes from transportation taxes and we get Federal money for roads, too.

            Only 12% of our budget goes to transportation, and we have a balanced budget. For the sake of argument, we’ll ignore the Federal money and just use our own transportation tax and our total transportation costs.

            12% – 10% = 2%. So there is absolutely no way that other taxes amount to much of anything and it surely invalidates your completely uninformed comment that transportation taxes are a “small fraction” of the costs associated with roads.

            Additionally, you have made yet another unfounded assumption in thinking that it’s sales tax on your coffee that pays the tiny fraction of road money that isn’t covered by transportation taxes. This is the real problem with politics in this country, people make all kinds of false assumptions about things, and they don’t bother to research anything despite the fact that most of this information is readily available on any device connected to the Internet. It’s no wonder we’re so far behind many of the other industrialized nations when it comes to academics.

          • LVGuy

            I don’t think you read your comment very well. I does not say that 10% of our budget comes from transportation taxes. It says that 10% of our budget comes from transportation taxes in addition to other taxes. And since when is federal money free money? You realize it comes from somewhere don’t you?

            Who’s paying for the additional costs associated with more roads? The infrastructure that’s required to support vast lands of suburbia costs way more than 10% of our budget.

            You know what, I don’t care about your response. Buh bye.

          • doodly


            No, you may not simply exclude the federal money — it’s a huge part of transportation projects.

            Overall, as my link showed, user fees pay for only half of transportation in this country.

          • Josh S

            Yeah, your analysis is a bit on the simplistic side here and full of holes.

            Lots of sidewalks are paid for by the property owners themselves – especially in commercial areas.

            Gas tax goes to states, not all roads are built or maintained by the states.

            Fishing and hunting licenses provide hardly enough revenue to pay for all conservation efforts.


          • ZoningVictim

            No kidding, I never thought of that. Of course, there is the fact that conservation affects everyone and hunters actually help to conserve resources and shouldn’t have to pay more.

            Why I should have to pay for it independently from everyone else and yet share in the expenses of things that other small groups want at all is the actual point, but let’s not get distracted by the subject at hand when we’re making all of our assumptions about where money comes from and where it goes.

            And doodly, I’m not getting a ‘huge subsidy’ because most taxpayers are also drivers. Most tax payers are not bike riders who cross the parkway; get over it.

          • doodly

            WTF are you talking about? Most bikers pay taxes. Enough of this drivel about how you’re paying your way and everyone else is mooching.

          • ZoningVictim

            If I said bread is made from flour, water, yeast, sugar and some other stuff, would one assume that “some other stuff” was a significant portion of the recipe? Probably not; although it’s fair to say that bread would suck without that other stuff and the roads couldn’t be maintained to the level they are today without the extra funding.

            The HTF is actually raided by politicians all the time, and gasoline taxes have been levied for a lot of things that have nothing to do with building roads. Here are is an article on the subject:
            If a significant portion of the HTF’s funds were from something other than usage taxes, I’d definitely like to see them update the tax rate so the money for roads comes from vehicle taxes, assuming they also pass a law that stops them from raiding those funds anytime they want to cover non-transportation costs. They should also make developers who make billions developing those suburbs pay for the road construction instead of asking all of Virginia to pay for the traffic problems in a few localities. I realize that people paying their own way is seen as an odd concept to many people these days, but it’s not to me.

            97% of the roads and highways in America are owned by the states and localities (3rd paragraph in this article: http://johnlewis.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=376), and there is most definitely a Federal gasoline tax.

            My analysis may be simplistic, but according to Virginia Commonwealth Data Point site, it’s still pretty accurate:
            Transportation Expenses $3,782,349,724
            Transportation Revenues: $3,725,481,027

            http://datapoint.apa.virginia.gov/rev/rev_statewide.cfm is a really cool site. You can drill right down into the revenues and see where all of it comes from, and I haven’t seen anything significant in the transportation revenues section that would lead me to believe that most of our transportation expenses aren’t covered by transportation related taxes. Other states may be pulling a lot of money out of their general funds, but VA does not look to be doing that.

          • ZoningVictim

            doodly, the bottom line is you are advocating building millions of dollars (at least) of infrastructure for something very few people in the Commonwealth will use and you want everyone to help pay for it even though most of the people who would be paying for it will never use it, see it or get anything out of it. The people who are advocating for this can try to spin that any way they want with lots of conjecture about how streets and sidewalks are paid for, but it won’t change the fact that they’re trying to get some very expensive infrastructure that only a small group of people want and pass the costs for that on to everyone. I’m simply telling you I don’t think that’s fair.

          • doodly

            “the bottom line is you are advocating building millions of dollars (at least) of infrastructure for something very few people in the Commonwealth will use”

            Plenty of people use it. Millions each year, in fact.

            “and you want everyone to help pay for it”

            As I’ve proven, half of roads are paid for with general fund taxes. When the gas tax is doubled and cars pay for all roads, you can complain. Until then, we all use the entire transportation network and we all pay for it.

            “even though most of the people who would be paying for it will never use it, see it or get anything out of it.”

            Lamest argument in the book.

            You may never drive on a highway in Kansas, but you help pay for it through federal taxes. And you benefit from it. I won’t try to explain how. Same goes for all transportation. Next time I’m on my bike crossing the parkway instead of sitting in my car in front of you on the parkway, I’ll wave and you can think about it.

            “I’m simply telling you I don’t think that’s fair.”

            It’s silly to talk about “fair” when discussing taxation and spending on the common good. Nothing is ever going to be “fair.” If you want to be “fair” about this, and not hypocritical, don’t ever set foot on the Mt. Vernon trail, ever. That’ll be a start. I’ll bet it’s already too late though.

            With all that said – I never said I support a bridge. Too expensive no matter who pays for it. Just slow down the cars.

          • BoredHouseWife

            a bike is a vehicle. get tags for the bike and that money pays for things like pedestrian bridges and tunnels. Not a bad idea.

          • doodly

            I have no problem with a tax on bikes – that is proportional to its burden on the system, of course.

            But now we have to have a tax on rollerblades, strollers, scooters…

          • doodly

            If it was a tax that was proportional to the burden bikes have on the system, it would probably cost more to collect that it brought in.

            Especially when you consider that alot of people riding bikes are people who aren’t in cars, therefore reducing their overall burden on the system. Would you rather have to stop to let a few bikers cross once a day or have them all in cars in front of you on the parkway?

          • ZoningVictim

            No, I think it’s a stupid idea to have a large number of people biking into the city and even dumber to have them crossing major thoroughfares. The gridlock would be insane.

            I see about 10-15 bikers going to work a week. I work in a building with 2,500 people in it, and there are only about five bikes in the rack on a good day (none on many days). If everyone outside the city that bikes in were to drive a car, it wouldn’t make a difference in the vehicular traffic at all.

            Aren’t you a liberal? I figured you’d love a new tax. Haha

          • Really?

            You really are bored.

  • BrownFlipFlops

    While we’re casting about, looking for people to blame, lets not forget that this account says there were two stopped cars, and the guy in the pickup was so inattentive, or fast, or close, that he couldn’t safely bring his vehicle to a stop. No excuse.

    • CW

      I do believe that this was the same thing that happened the other month when someone was tragically killed, also by a pickup, I might add. In that instance as well, everyone was happy to blame the stopped cars, the jogger, cyclists (why not, they’re always good to blame), pedestrians in general, trees, highway designers, NPS, pretty much everything except THE GUY WHO WAS BREAKING MULTIPLE LAWS AND KILLED SOMEONE. Seems like we’re going down the same path here, with the exception of your above post.

      • R

        Then we should obviously outlaw pickup trucks, they are the problem…

      • jan

        You’re right.

        • jan

          Correction: CW is right. R is just another irrational voice.

          • Maria

            R is a sarcastic voice responding to CW’s insinuation that pick-up drivers are perhaps less attentive while driving.

          • CW

            How dare you accuse me of insinuation! 🙂

      • The driver that came to a sudden stop the other month committed culpability negligence. His actions were partially responsible.

        Today’s accident at a glance suggests it was all on the pickup truck.

    • NPGMBR


  • Irishinva

    The stop signs on the GW Parkway are foe the cyclists, not the cars. The 1st idiot who stopped on the parkway is at fault.

    • LVGuy

      I agree. I’m a frequent cyclist but cars have the right of way there. Whenever a driver stops for me I wave him or her through so they don’t get the idea that what they’re doing is safe.

      • CW

        Yes. The worst by far is when ONE car stops for a cyclist or pedestrian (at any crossing, for that matter). It simultaneously blocks the pedestrian’s view down the road and encourages cars to fly around the stopped single car in the other lane. Any time one car stops for me, I wave them on.

        As a frequent runner, cyclist, and pedestrian, I would like to give a piece of advice to all drivers that would make the world a safer place: just act like we do not exist. I am serious. What causes the most problems for me as when drivers get cute and try to be nice and courteous, whether that be by driving slowly behind me rather than passing, or stopping to let me cross a busy highway, or playing pedestrian chicken where they lurch forward, alternating between looking like they’re going to let me cross and acting like they’re going to run me down. If drivers would just keep on minding their business, it would make it much easier for us. You KNOW a car is not going to stop at that crossing, so you stop and wait for an opening. Period. No guesses or dangerous gambles. You know the car is going to ignore the crosswalk, so you use common sense. I just think it’s a better way to operate. I’ll take a known over an unknown any day.

        • Courthouse Res

          This does not work in all situations and is impossible in others. First of all, it’s VA state law that drivers must yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk. Secondly, certain crossings I’d have to wait for world peace to cross if no one stopped. For example, on 10th street right by 50. During rush hour, cars are FLYING and constantly coming but I need to cross there so they need to stop at some point.

          • CW

            I’m not saying it’s a perfect solution. I almost turned around and gave up trying to cross the GW parkway yesterday at the very place where this happened because of the flow of traffic. However, what I am saying is that, a lot of times, drivers will do well-intentioned things, like stopping in the middle of a street where there isn’t even a crosswalk, to try to be nice, but which introduce uncertainty into a situation. I’d rather have the certainty and predictability of at least a reasonable guess at where the cars will be going.

          • ZoningVictim

            Right “in the crosswalk.” That’s something that most drivers and peds don’t understand. You don’t stop for someone waiting to be in the crosswalk, but you can’t run them over if they’ve already started across and don’t have enough time to make it. There is no law that says you have to stop for someone who is standing on the sidewalk looking like they would like to be in the crosswalk.

          • Elle Kasey

            Amen to this comment, ZoningVictim! I find that many drivers think that they must or *should* yield to people standing on the sidewalk near a crosswalk. It is absolute mayhem on Wilson Blvd with the many mid-block crosswalks. The craziest place I’ve ever seen is in front of the Arlington County courthouse where drivers wait for a break in pedestrian traffic to cross.

          • LVGuy

            In Virginia, drivers are required to stop for someone on standing on a sidewalk at a zebra crosswalk.

          • Westover

            Not sure exactly what you are saying here. But, a driver is not required to stop for someone standing on the sidewalk in front of a crosswalk.

          • LVGuy

            I wasn’t thinking when I typed, sorry. In Virginia, if someone is standing at the curb in a striped (zebra) crosswalk, even if not in the direct path of a driver, the driver is required to stop while there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk, even if the pedestrian has already passed the driver.

          • Clarendude

            I don’t think a driver is actually required to stop even if the pedestrian is in their path in the crosswalk. The law states

            “The drivers of vehicles entering, crossing, or turning at intersections shall change their course, slow down, or stop if necessary to permit pedestrians to cross such intersections safely and expeditiously.”

            So, swerving around (changing course) the pedestrian is legal. No contact, no foul is what it seems to be saying.

          • LVGuy

            You know what? My statement comes from straight up asking a group of police officers ten years ago at the Arlington County fair. Right now I’m finding conflicting laws. I found a pdf what your quote about Virginia laws, but I also found a separate link through Walk Arlington saying that drivers must yield to pedestrians anywhere in a crosswalk. Virginia law allows the counties and cities of Northern Virginia to make their own crosswalk laws, so perhaps it’s an Arlington thing.

          • PeDriver

            All this is true. It is also true that whether or not there are crosswalk stripes or lines of any sort the responsibility of driver and peds is the same at an intersection of any street with a speed limit under 35mph. Many people do not realize this.

          • Jackflops

            LVGuy, you are correct. I talked to someone at ArlCo a few years ago about this law, and they said the problem was that it doesn’t elaborate on what “yield” means. Stop when you see a ped in the crosswalk? Slow down? Swerve? Stop if you see one waiting to cross? Very vague.

          • LVGuy

            To clarify, this bit of the GW parkway is actually in DC, not VA, due to the fact it’s on Columbia Island.

          • 5555624


          • SeanO

            Make sure it’s written on your tombstone. ‘I had the right of way’

        • dcbrewer

          Completely agree. I would much rather wait for a safe opening in traffic to cross an intersection than have (some) cars stop at a crosswalk.

        • PikerGirl

          ….”The worst by far is when ONE car stops for a cyclist or pedestrian (at any crossing, for that matter). It simultaneously blocks the pedestrian’s view down the road and encourages cars to fly around the stopped single car in the other lane.”

          This happened to me once driving a rental car in CA. The car in front of me slowed to stop and turn into a driveway to a shopping mall (or so I thought). I got over into left lane while he was slowing to get around him. Just when I was passing the car I saw the bicyclist (or bicyclist’s front wheel) coming from my right heading for the front of my car. I swerved to avoid it but still hit the bike with the side of my car. I could not see the bike because of the car that had stopped for it (turns out they were not going into shopping center driveway.) was blocking the view. Bike and rider (or maybe he was walking it) went sprawling on the ground. Luckily he was not hurt too bad. But he said Didn’t you see me?! I said no. Police came and he got a ticket (not me) for crossing the street where there was no crosswalk and he did not have right of way. Also when accident happened it was dusk and light was fading and of course he did not have any type of bicycle light.

          I have to cross at a crosswalk every day when I get off the bus on Columbia Pike. It is not directly at an intersection but is near S. Frederick St and it has a push button that lights up a yellow flashing light to alert drivers to stop (some do and some just drive right through it), but at least it provides some warning and instruction to the drivers that there is a pedestrian that wants to cross. They are supposed to stop when it flashes. Maybe something like this could be installed as interim cheap measure on this parkway portion until a better solution is found.

          • CarsSuck

            you went around the car in a huff without seeing what was going on ahead of you. You should have been cited, not the cyclist. I hope it feels good to hit someone because you’re in a hurry and driving wrecklessly. It’s not their fault because they didn’t have a light or reflective gear. Your car has headlights, and you have eyes. Use them next time and try not to run over any more cyclists.

          • Webster

            I’m glad you are not a police officer. You’re knowledge of the law is sorely lacking.

          • CW

            I think that the first sentence from CarsSuck does convict PikerGirl in the court of common sense (slow down, don’t blast around a stopped car without looking), but you are correct – when there’s no crosswalk, drivers can rarely, if ever, be held liable for anything involving people crossing the street.

          • CarsSuck

            and that’s what’s wrong with our CAR obsessed culture. As soon as something other then a car is involved in a collision, the following questions are thrown out there… were they in a crosswalk? were they wearing reflective gear? It’s automatically the non-drivers fault, even though cars are required to have operating headlights, and the operators are supposed to be aware of their surroundings, driving sober, and driving at or below the posted speed limit. Speed limits are just that, LIMITS, or MAXIMUMS… not minimums. Pretty f*’d up place that happened, after the cyclist gets plowed, he’s then served a summons at the same time.

          • Cyclist deserved the ticket. Im glad your bitter.

          • CW

            Didn’t say it was right (hence my reference to the court of common sense), only that that is how the law somehow ended up.

          • Maria

            CarsSuck, did you read her story carefully? She didn’t say she was in a huff or that she sped around the car. She misunderstood the situation since the car stopped at a driveway where there was no crosswalk and she *couldn’t* see the bicyclist. That is all unfortunate, but that doesn’t mean she did anything wrong. You’ve never in your life moved to the left lane when the car in the right lane in front of you slows or stops? Come on.

            And is it automatically the car’s fault in your mind? Why shouldn’t those questions be asked of a pedestrian or cyclist? They’re not infallible and often do stupid things, as most of us in Arlington know VERY well. Drivers do as well, so whoever is at fault, driver or otherwise, should be cited.

            Plus, your logic that because the cyclist was the one who got hit makes it f*ed up that he got cited is flawed. If a person is drunk and blows through an intersection, causing someone else to hit the drunk’s car, should the drunk not get in trouble since he was the one who got hit?

    • Josh S


  • roquer

    These crossings in mid-highways are death traps. Doesn’t matter if it’s on a road that has traffic lights, or one similar to the GW Parkway, they are accidents; devestating injuries and deaths waiting to happen.
    Whoever thought that putting a series of little lines in the middle of heavily trafficed roads ought to be placed on those little lines and made to walk back and forth across them in traffic. That person would figure out quite quickly that it is a suicide mission to cross.
    No matter what the little lines are supposed to stand for, when cars are driving by at the speed limit, and there are maximum amount of traffic, the drivers of the cars are NOT watching for a pedestrian or cyclist to dart out in front of them
    No matter whose fault it would be, the person with the least metal around them is going to die or be injured horribly. No matter who is civilly liable, the pedestrian or cyclist is always going to get the worst end of this.
    Those little lines should be removed entirely. They give pedestrians false security. If the County or Parkway, or State just wants to be sweet about it, then do like Fairfax County did at 7-Corners and build a pedestrian bridge. There are several of those across I-66 in Arlington and one in Shirlington across I395. Otherwise, leave the lines off the road. As long as they are there, more accidents, more injuries and more deaths will occur. Because they give false security.

  • JamesE

    pedestrian crossings on high speed, high traffic roads are smart ideas.

  • SomeGuy


    § 46.2-924. Drivers to stop for pedestrians; installation of certain signs; penalty.

    A. The driver of any vehicle on a highway shall yield the right-of-way to any pedestrian crossing such highway:

    1. At any clearly marked crosswalk, whether at mid-block or at the end of any block;
    § 46.2-904
    A person riding a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, motorized skateboard or scooter, motor-driven cycle, or an electric power-assisted bicycle on a sidewalk, shared-use path, or across a roadway on a crosswalk, shall have all the rights and duties of a pedestrian under the same circumstances.
    Wouldn’t be hard to argue that that crossing is a “shared-use” path.

  • JimPB

    A pedestrian/bicyclist push button controlled warning to stop light 1,000 or so ft. before the crossing and a stop light at the crossing seems warranted.

  • ARL

    I drive by here every day. I also try to stop when I see a cyclist or runner coming unless someone is right on my ass like others have mentioned. And more often then not I get honked at or flicked off from the person behind me for slowing and stopping.

    One of the big problems here (and also on the curve after the memorial bridge on to Ohio Drive) is that the cyclists often do not even slow down and ASSUME that cars will stop. That is just plain stupid and arrogant. A traffic light will have no impact on cyclists such as those – if they think they can make it they will go for it and not wait for a light to change.

    Also note to the dingdongs in the other of the two lanes. If a car has come to a complete stop here THERE IS A CYCLIST crossing – they aren’t just stopped for kicks. You should stop also.

    • J

      As a cyclist, I thank for being gracious and trying to stop. But I have to be honest here, you should probably just proceed and not cede right-of-way. It’s very confusing for the cyclists for the very reason you mention–the second lane of traffic and cars behind you. It’s very scary.

      Gov’t needs to institute traffic control here so everyone knows what to do, there’s really no way around it. Personally, I’d like a traffic light that only activates when a pedestrian pushes a button; but one that guarantees the highway at least 2 minutes of uninterrupted green to keep things moving.

      • Great post

      • Clarendude

        They have those controls in Iceland. High-speed roads, pedestrian pushes a button, light turns immediately red for traffic (stop for pedestrians about to enter crosswalk), about the time that a normal person gets halfway across the light starts flashing yellow (proceed with caution) and then turns back green sometime later. There is a reset time so the next pedestrian may have to wait if he comes right after the previous.

    • Alexandrian

      I always bike down there, and yes, we are supposed to STOP and walk past the crossway, not ride past. The stop signs for cyclists are there, and it’s the cyclists’ responsibility as much as it is the drivers’ to respect the right of way.

  • AH

    It doesn’t help those cyclists who are trying to get to Memorial Bridge, but this is why the new Boundary Channel bridge underpass is such an improvement. I used to cross this intersection when I bike commuted to the Pentagon and saw several near misses from cars flying down the Parkway. A colleague saw a bike get demolished by a car at the same spot (rider was miraculously unhurt). In fact, there are three dangerous crossings in row if you’re going from MVT to the Pentagon or Columbia Pike via this trail. Its a wonder people haven’t been killed. Maybe the Park Service can put up some sort of flashing yellow sign – similar to what Arlington has installed along Columbia Pike for pedestrian crossings.

    • LVGuy

      To get to that underpass don’t you still need to cross several lanes of traffic?

      • CW

        No. You can stay on the MVT the whole time.

    • CW

      I explored around the new bridge underpass tunnel this weekend coming up from the 14th street bridge side. Other than the Pentagon and Columbia Pike, can you use it to go anywhere? I tried to go north but basically just ended up on Parkway on-ramps. Is there any way around that? I’d not explored that specific area by bike at all because, before the tunnel opened, there was no logical reason why I’d be over there.

      • AH

        There isn’t much to see / explore over there. There are a lot of Pentagon personnel who access the MVT trail to run in the mornings and at lunchtime, so I imagine that the Pentagon had something to do with the decision of the Park Service to put in a tunnel in as part of the Humpback Bridge rebuild.

        • CW

          If only there was some way to get from Boundary Channel Dr. over to the other side of 110 and up to the trail that runs along the east edge of the cemetery north of memorial drive. That would allow one to go from the MVT to Iwo Jima in the most direct manner (I like to ride to Iwo Jima then down over to Fairfax drive and up the back way into Clarendon). So close but so far!

  • Maeve

    There should be a crossing light there if there is going to be a crosswalk, operated by a button. That way cars either stop or don’t stop, no ambiguity about the matter. I never know what to do at those things because I fear that if I stop, the cyclist will start into the crosswalk, and then the dude behind me will think I’m just an idiot and pull around me and nail the cyclist.

    • LVGuy

      That probably makes the most sense, so we’ll never see it.

    • doodly

      The NPS isn’t going to want a light in a park, on a parkway. That’s part of the problem – this was designed as a leisurely drive through a park, not a major commuter highway.

  • SomeGuy

    Isn’t this crossing technically in the District of Columbia, and thus not Arlington?

    • Jackflop

      Arlington. DC is just the bridges and the river up to the waterline on the VA side.

      • SomeGuy

        Sure about that? Take a closer look at a map. The border is drawn on the channel just slightly east of the Arlington Cemetery Metro stop.

        • Josh S

          Whatever map you are looking at is not the official arbiter of the border.

          • SomeGuy

            Gee, thanks, Josh. Please provide a link to an “official arbiter” that would dispute my claim.

          • Lou
          • SomeGuy

            Interesting case, Lou. But I’m not seeing how that establishes that the tract of land to the immediate east of Boundary Channel Bridge is Arlington property. Based on the court decision, seems like that property (along w/the Potomac riverbed, etc) would belong to the federal government, if anyone.

            I’m willing to learn something new though.

          • Lou

            I wasn’t necessarily responding to your beg for dispute, just throwing in some reference material to the overall discussion. You’re essentially right.

            The border was determined by arbitration in the 18th century, just prior to DC being established. It is the low water mark on the Virginia side of the Potomac, although where man-made channels and reclaimed river bed has been used on the Virginia side leaves the boundary of the river somewhat muddy in certain locations.

            It’s just as well that the land in question is federal property, and neither sovereign to Virginia or the District.

          • SomeGuy

            Thanks, Lou. And I wasn’t “begging for dispute” just for dispute’s sake. But I was surprised that the person who implied that I was misinformed basically said nothing more than “you might be wrong,” rather than check something that’s more or less based in fact (there’s not TOO MUCH subjectivity re: state borders) and accept it.

            Your response was constructive, so thanks.

          • SomeGuy

            And while you’re at it, maybe you can also explain why that channel I referred to is called Boundary Channel.

          • doodly

            Hey Josh? You learned something today. Just say “wow, didn’t know that” and walk away.

        • Jackflops

          Too lazy. But I’ll take your word for it.

        • ZoningVictim

          The parkway is actually Federal land, isn’t it?

          • doodly

            Yes, and that part of it is in DC.

      • doodly

        Jackflop, look closely at where the water line actually is.

    • charlie

      yes. it is called Columbia Island for a reason.

  • Rolando

    A pedestrian bridge would do it but as said that may be expensive and harder to apply to multiple crossing areas.

    I think a good solution would be a two sets of lights:
    -A pedestrian would have the button to request crossing.
    -The first light placed at a distance with yellow blinking lights that would warn drivers to be ready to stop (obviously with a sign).
    -The second light would be a full stop and placed **several meters** away from the Xing path. Yes the bikers/runners would have to wait a bit but that may be even better as then you wouldn’t have many pedestrians crossing individually but in batches (less crossing traffic).
    -If you want to add to that, put some of those rumble strips right before the first light that make your car sound and vibrate to wake you up in case you’re distracted/sleepy.

    This wouldn’t be an instantaneous thing but with a wait, obviously we don’t want to cause more traffic.

    Anyway those are my 2 cents.

  • JB

    I take that route almost every day, and even though I know it’s there, that is the one crosswalk on the parkway that is easy to forget about and comes up on you really fast. If you’re not someone that takes the parkway frequently, it would be very easy to not realize it’s there until you’d have to slam on the brakes to stop in time. They should either take away the expectation that drivers are supposed to stop at these things and make it so pedestrians should just wait and cross when there is a gap in traffic, or greatly increase the signage, reduce the speed limit, and put painted warnings on the pavement for drivers that there is a crosswalk coming up there and they are expected to stop.

    The other problem is that with the fencing that is up, people standing there waiting at the crosswalk kind of blend in with the surroundings for drivers. There have been a couple of times recently where I didn’t notice a cyclist waiting there until I was so close to the crosswalk that stopping at 45 would mean ramming the breaks and risking getting rear-ended.

    And that’s assuming you’re just cruising along watching out for it. The other problem with the GW near Arlington is there are so many exits and people changing lanes unexpectedly and speeding past, that you’re constantly watching all around you for what other drivers are doing, and all it takes is for you to be busy checking your mirrors a couple of seconds to miss the window of anticipating that crosswalk. Throw in X number of drivers at any given moment that are busy on their cellphones instead of paying attention at all and it’s shocking there aren’t more accidents there.

  • YTK

    Well, she was SMART to hesitate, unlike some of the DOOFUSES that blithely walk right in FRONT of cars that are several feet away from a Crosswalk and expect them to come to a screeching halt because DOOFUS decided to be in the crosswalk. Does every one remember their “Learn To Drive BRAKING Distance Chart???”

  • Irishinva

    GW Parkway is federal property, and not under the jurisdiction of Arlington or Virginia (with the exception that passes through Alexandria).

    • Westover

      Fairfax Cops have been known to patrol and ticket folks between 123 and the Beltway as well as between the Beltway and Mount Vernon. I have seen Arlington PD pull folks over at Spout Run northbound. Feds do not have sole jurisdiction. Honestly not sure which local jurisdiction covers Columbia Island, it has passed back anf forth between DC and Arlington/Alexandria County a few times over the last century and a half. But, Virginia State Police also have been known to pull folks over on the Parkway from time to time.

  • charlie

    i drive and bike here.
    as a driver i always check to make sure the yahoo behind me is possibly interested in paying enough attention to stop. if the car behind me has Maryland plates, I just keep going. Sometimes I put my flashers on and straddle the lanes if the biker looks really attractive.
    But the fact is CARS RULE on this section of road. How do we change that?

    • CarsSuck

      put up an electric fence between Maryland and Virginia

      • YoBimbo


  • charlie

    by the way, i thought the GW Parkway has a sign that says NO TRUCKS and also NO COMMERCIAL VEHICLES. How does this get defined?

    • Westover

      Vehicle weight and ownership

  • Terry

    The fact is that drivers do not have to stop here (there is no stop sign) and doing so puts them at risk of being rear-ended. A four way stop would not solve this and could possibly lead to more pedestrians getting injured because they “assume” cars will stop. I like the idea of putting some sort of tunnel in. GW parkway is not technically an interstate but it sure feels like one sometimes when you’re driving on it.

    • Rolando

      Yes they do. Sure no sign, but there’s a Xing path well marked and that’s a law.

      • John Fontain

        This has been explained umpteen times already on this site, but for the benefit of those who may not have already seen it the law requires:

        1. Cars to stop for peds already crossing the road; and

        2. Peds to not begin crossing the road when traffic is approaching.

        Therefore, cars do not need to stop for peds waiting on the side of a crosswalk because those peds are required by law to wait until it is clear to cross before going.

        If both sides followed the two aspects of the law, there would be much less confusion and many fewer accidents such as this one.

        • Jackflops

          But what does “approaching” mean? How far away must the car be before they can start trying to cross?

          To be honest, I’m just gonna keep trucking and keep ignoring anyone I see at the side of the road. That’s even what some of the cyclists posting here prefer.

          • John Fontain

            the law (“No pedestrian shall enter or cross an intersection in disregard of approaching traffic.”) isn’t specific because the distance will vary depending on speed limits, road width, and other factors. Common sense would dictate that one shouldn’t begin to cross unless they were sure they could make it safely to the other side before an approaching car came with at least 20 to 30 yards of the intersection.

            I’ve said this before, but I find it extremely odd that adult peds will make road crossing decisions that they would never advise their own children to do. It’s just plain dumb.

        • Michael H.

          The problem at the GW Parkway and Washington Blvd. ramp crossings south of Memorial Bridge is that there is usually a steady stream of traffic. There is almost always approaching traffic, except in overnight hours.

          There is no good solution for the current location. A pedestrian bridge would be the best solution but it’s expensive and unlikely to get funded. There really aren’t great alternative locations for trail crossings because of all of the on and off ramps for Washington Blvd and the GW Parkway in a small area.

          There are plans to pave a trail along Rte. 110, connecting up to Memorial Drive, to the west of the current problem area. That would allow cyclists and pedestrians to avoid some of the current crossings. But I’m not sure when that trail will be finished. And there will still be other crossings involved.

          This is one planning problem that needs a good idea. I don’t have one myself, other than the pedestrian bridge that probably isn’t in the budget.

  • Mark

    This is part of my daily bike commute. There are 3 Parkway crossings between Arlington Cemetery & the Mt. Vernon Trail. Cars frequently and helpfully wait for peds and bikes at the crossing closest to the cemetery, and since traffic is usually bottlenecked there on the way to Memorial Bridge, it’s safe for them to wait. The second one is dicier, but cars can reasonably wait there too without too much risk. The third, where today’s accident occurred, is too dangerous to stop at — I usually wave cars through and cringe when they stop. Typically, the volume is less than at crossing 1 so you can find a break in the traffic. But it’s dangerous nevertheless. Cars are moving fast; if you fell in the crossing, you’d likely get run over. On any of the crossings, any pedestrian or cyclist would be a fool for assuming that cars are going to stop, or that they won’t get rear-ended if they do stop, so you have to keep your eyes open.

    While the Park Service should be commended for the safety improvements for the Mt. Vernon trail over the rebuilt Humpback Bridge, they really need to focus on a solution at this crossing. Closing the path is not an option.

    (Nice work ArlNOw hopping on this so quickly and finding the YouTube video)

    • Arlwhenever

      I drive through this area every day and sometimes cross by foot during a lunchtime run. Agree with your assessments as reflecting the typical safety mix, but I recall it’s the second crossing where the poor woman jogger was killed earlier this spring. The new tunnel under the Humpback Bridge will only bring more bicycle and pedestrian traffic to the middle and lower crossings.

      While I’m normally against automated surveillance and against traffic enforcement cameras, putting a camera on the approach to these crossings — I would make an exception. Another thought is one of those speed radar signs since the typical motorist is going 20 mph above the speed limit on the lower lane, those signs get most motorists to ease off.

  • arglebargle

    Has anyone talked to the county board members about this?

    It’s federal property, but affects mostly arlington citizens.

    I drive by it every day and it scares the crap out of me.

    • bob

      It’s in DC, not arlington.

      (Columbia Island)

    • ArlingtonRunner

      Walter Tejada is a cyclist, so he may be more receptive to these concerns. However, I’m not sure how much power the Arlington County Board would actually have.

      • ZoningVictim

        Unless you have $2,500. Then I’d call Favola.

        • CW

          July 21: Large campaign donation made to Favola by cyclist.

          July 22 ARLnow headline: “Northbound GW Parkway Closed North of 395 for Indefinite Period; Reason Unknown”.

  • CarsSuck

    Good luck getting the NPS to upgrade or improve anything around here. They’d rather live in denial that there needs to be safety improvements for users of the park, and that crossing signals are needed, even though not most asthetically pleasing. Seems to be no problems putting traffic lights up all over the National Mall and Suitland Pkwy, so why such an issue with GW Pkwy? And good luck getting USPP to patrol or do speed enforcement, they’re too busy tasing and harrassing pedicab riders on the Mall to bother with anything else.

    • Westover

      Actually, the only problem with the USPP being able to do patrols on the parkway is that the parkway is understaffed due to homeland security demands near the monuments and museums. Pre-9/11 they were overly aggressive with their speed enforcement on the GW Parkway.

  • sarah

    This whole scenario is unsafe. I frequently have to cross the Parkway to get to the Memorial Bridge. It is a nightmare.

    Does NPS have a forum for public input? I’d like to lobby NPS to consider alternatives at this area. Does anyone have a suggestion about who to contact at NPS?

    • Mark
    • esmith69

      Agreed that there needs to be something done–most likely a tunnel or bridge for the peds/bikers. Good luck getting that funded in today’s anti-government spending climate though…

      • BerryBerryCold

        Toll the bridge or tunnel. Simple solution.

  • Librarina

    The sign on the bike trail says “STOP Dismount before Crossing” where RT 27 veers away from Memorial Bridge onto the Parkway ramps. At this point, drivers do have the right of way. Just beyond that ponit, bikers and joggers cross an unpaved path as cars come around the corner and out from under a bridge. Isn’t this where someone lost their life recently?

  • Bob

    We have to be careful as drivers!!! I slow down below the posted speed limit where I know the bike/pedestrians may cross. Nevertheless, there is always someone behind me in a car driving too fast. Screw ’em…I keep them slow. 🙂

    I drive on I-66 at the speed limit, always in the right lane, but MD & DC drivers tend to be absolutely stupid (inductive reasoning). So there you go.

    One thing I expect, and I always keep attention for on GW, is a biker or walker just riding or walking out into the crosswalk. They are right at the edgle of the roadway, so I slow down. Pay attention!

    All of the riders/walkers I’ve seen dismount and walk accross.

    Here is my motto: Drive fast and get nowhere fast. I’ll see you fast driving, stupid car drivers at the next intersection.

    Peace!. Drive slow!: “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch!”

    • jan

      Amazing! A voice of reason.

    • jack

      typical turtle driver that ends up causing a major accident…

      I think this is simple math:

      if you’re riding a bike, you need to be careful your life is at risk and you should always be more careful than anyone else on the road.

      Now these accidents are happening because of this bike crossing, shouldnt the authorities come up with a better solution?? maybe a bridge – cheaper than a tunnel – would fix the problem. And no, a light wouldn’t resolve the problem either…But don’t put a freaking crossing path in the middle of a parkway…I for one never stopped there and never thought it was safe to stop with cars going 55 right behind me…

  • esmith69

    Some comments from people saying the simple solution is to just slow down, and also asking why everyone is so worried about being rear ended. The simple reality is that around here, FAR too many people do not leave enough space between themselves and the car in front of them. Tailgating is absolutely rampant. It’s not just annoying, it is asking for an accident.

    When you’re traveling 45 miles an hour and see someone stopped in front of you, your car is still going to travel a considerable distance before your muscles move your foot and the car begins to slow down. It’s called the human reaction time and sadly far too many people think they’re super human and can react instantly, so when they’re on the HIGHWAY and going 65 mph they still think only 15 feet of separation is OK. Flat out wrong.


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