59°Partly Cloudy

‘Stop’ Removed from Bike Trail at Lee Hwy and Lynn Street

by ARLnow.com September 6, 2011 at 2:49 pm 4,961 69 Comments

Two painted “stop” markers have been removed from the bike trail that runs along the north side of Lee Highway, at the dangerous intersection with Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

The markings were removed from the Custis Trail by Arlington’s Transportation Engineering and Operations Administration last week, according to spokeswoman Shannon Whalen McDaniel. On Friday, ARLnow.com reported that a cyclist struck and injured at the intersection last month said he was issued a warning for failing to stop at the marker.

“The markings were removed because they provided a restriction to bicyclists that conflicted with the traffic signal at this intersection,” Whalen McDaniel said today. “This was recommended as part of a comprehensive trail traffic control study over a year ago. All users of the streets and sidewalks should exercise care at intersections and obey all regulations, signals, and signage.”

Flickr photo by @I_am_Dirt, via @BikeArlington

  • CW

    Oh god, so it begins.

  • Josh S

    Gosh, now it really sucks to be that biker.

    The question is – when was the decision made to remove the sign? If it was made before the accident and resulting ticket, I would hope a judge would take that into account and consider dropping the charges.

    • arlcyclist

      Pretty sure there were no charges, just a warning.

      • Josh S

        Oh right. You’re right – I forgot the specifics. Never mind.

      • bensashi

        I think that is correct, but I seem to recall that because he was issued a warning (and there was previously a stop sign), the driver was not considered even partially responsible for the accident. Because of that, he wasn’t responsible for covering any medical expenses for the biker.

        I tried to find the post/comment regarding the above point, but am not having any luck. At any rate, the fact that the stop sign wasn’t supposed to be there doesn’t change the fact that it was.

        • Aaron

          The other story implied that the bicyclist’s medical expenses were covered by his own health insurance. He just wanted someone to be forced to buy him a new $2000+ bike.

          • bensashi

            Ah, thanks. I remembered reading something but my memory was a bit hazy.

          • cyclist

            You have no idea how much his bike cost or whether he wants it replaced.

          • Aaron

            “The cyclist says he later found out that the driver who turned in front of him was not issued any sort of citation. As a result, not only will he be financially responsible for his own bills — the hospital bill for his hand, arm and shoulder injuries, plus the replacement cost of the $2,000 carbon fiber bike — but he may be held responsible for damage to the driver’s vehicle.”

          • cyclist

            Okay, so you know the cost of the bike, my mistake. But not whether he would expect the driver to replace it. And so what? If the driver was at fault, he should.

          • BU

            In a general sense, if someone hits another with their car and is determined to be at fault, I would hope they or their insurance would compensate for the damages. BMW or Chevy, $2000 bike or $100 bike. None of those vehicles is uncommon around here and I see no difference in how the owner should be treated.

          • Interesting. If a bicyclist is deemed to be at fault then his insurance should pay for damage to the car. But, how many of us have a bicycle insured as they were a means of transportation (collission, liability, etc.)? Would the uninsured motorist policy then have to pick up the damage?

          • cyclist

            Bicycles are not covered by the uninsured motorist fund. The damages would probably have to be covered by the cyclist from his/her own funds.

          • Undereducated

            I had this concern, and according to my insurer, State Farm, I and my immediate family would be covered under our homeowners policy.

    • Undereducated

      There is a rash of other charges that could be made to the cyclist, such as reckless driving due excessive speed and failure to control his vehicle. I would stay with the warning and not press my luck.

      • Wenyl

        And how do we know his speed? You’re assuming he barreled into the intersection at an excessive speed. He could have simply been going 15mph and was unable to stop on a dime because the car literally pulled out in front of him. Enough with your conjecture.

  • JB

    Would this make the APD’s Warning null?

    • G::TheNativeArlingtonian

      The ACPD = null.

      • VaSQGuy

        AGREED! Lots of overweight traffic cops. The homeless population is up, violent crime is up, B&E is up…

        • Clyde Barrow

          Don’t forget bank robberies up!

          • VaSQGuy

            The number of expired registration and HOV violation tickets is up…clearly that is the top priority of the ACPD.

          • ignorant

            those are the dumbest comments I’ve ever seen. Arlington is one of the safest cities in the nation when it comes to violent crimes, and we’re right across the river from the nation’s capital.

            I have a strange feeling you’re a transplant who complains about getting punished when you violate the law. don’t want an HOV violation? obey the HOV law (very simple to obey, they state the times and days you can’t ride solo).

            I’m glad they can spend time ticketing for HOV violations and issue parking tickets. it means they DON’T have to focus on Homicides and other violent crimes, would it make you feel better if you lived in a city with more of those? just so you can feel the cops have earned their stripes?

            the cops I’ve known and seen on the streets/metro stations are not overweight, not even close. please look around and know the situation before you judge.

        • Nova gal

          This is available on the county website if the image does not come through.

        • Nova gal

          This one too. WOW, two years and the crime is going down.

    • Joe

      More importantly, is this a Mea Culpa from Arlington County. How long until the biker sues AC, and says that the removal and explanation prove AC’s fault.

  • LOL!!!!!! Now, bike trails through the whole region are going to consider removing painted and posted signs designed to provide SAFETY to bicyclists? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!! What else can we toss our money away on?

    • Will

      The painted sign was providing instructions in conflict with the crossing indicators, hence in reality it was reducing the cyclists safety. Indeed, the car that struck the cyclist violated the cyclist’s right of way.

  • CW

    Those signs were put there back before more advanced traffic control devices were put into place. Now there are lights (like the dedicated bicycle stoplights).

    Your argument is like saying that it was a bad idea to take down telegraph lines and replace them with telephone cables.

    • CW

      (that was supposed to be directed to OB)

    • So you are saying the traffic lights were not there prior to the stop being painted on the ground? There have been traffic lights in Rosslyn for a VERY long time….

      • CW

        No. But i think they decided that the traffic lights were a better way to control traffic of all sorts than painting things on the ground, so the painted sign was rendered obsolete.

        • Then they should only remove stop signs from intersections where lights are installed? I’d likely agree with that philosophy. But, to just remove them randomly because of an accident may only spur more accidents. This could be especially true when travelling a trail that spans multiple counties, such as W&OD. Take a look at this photo from near Ashburn, for example. If Arlington were to remove bike signage, it would conflict with what is being done elsewhere on a trail leading to Arlington (or out of Arlington, depending on your perspective).

          • Could swear I attached it…

          • twice failed…

          • cyclist

            So are you saying they should leave stop signs where lights are installed?

          • Josh S

            What makes you think this sign was “removed randomly?” Isn’t it just as possible that the timing so close to an accident and police citation was coincidence? Isn’t it possible that the county already had reviewed the intersection and made the decision to remove the word before the accident happened?
            I haven’t seen anything here that provides evidence one way or the other….

          • I’m not saying that. But, it would not surprise me. Typical reactionary.

          • Josh S

            Yeah, I don’t know there, Bushie, but I think that’s exactly how 95 out of 100 readers would read your comment above. You suggested this sign was “removed randomly.”

          • MB

            FWIW, this was the case. Removal had been requested prior to this incident.

          • CW

            OB – I agree with the first two sentences of this post. The key idea here was that of conflicting and confusing signals. Mixed signals, literally. Your original post just seemed to be missing the point of the conflicting signage when you were laughing at the fact that they were removing any signage at all.

            While your image didn’t come through, if it’s of (dangerously) conflicting signage, then I don’t think that Arlington should preserve its own (dangerously) conflicting signage solely on the basis of precedent and consistency with its neighbors.

          • Conflicting signs should be made to not conflict. I agree. Maybe I’m a little overboard, but sometimes things go nuts when a fix is only needed in one location.

            If the cyclist had a walk light, then the fault should be with the vehicle. If the cyclist didn’t have a walk light, he certainly failed to stop. The image I tried to post twice shows an intersection further out that has a stop sign posted for a bike with another sign below it that reads “stop required by law”. While Arlington’s signage may be confusion, the signs further out are clear to the cyclist that he/she needs to stop and look for cars before they proceed. It keeps the splatter down.

          • cyclist

            “If the cyclist had a walk light, then the fault should be with the vehicle. If the cyclist didn’t have a walk light, he certainly failed to stop.”

            Exactly, presuming the cyclist entered the intersection with the walk signal.

          • CW

            I agree 100%. I’ve ridden the W&OD end to end and I know the signs you’re talking about. The signs out in the country definitely make it REALLY clear that bikes need to stop. This is for everyon’s safety. Less density of bikes, higher speed limits, sometimes less visibility, etc.

          • drax

            It wasn’t removed randomly. It was removed because it creates a LESS safe situation – confusion.

          • Will

            The cyclists should simply follow whatever signage is applicable, just like drivers, who sometimes have to follow yield signs, stop signs, or traffic lights (some of which only blink yellow or red).

          • cyclist

            When there is a stop and a green light, which is applicable though?

  • JamesE

    Can they remove the metered light at the fairfax dr ramp to 66 west?

    • Richard Cranium

      Yes. But they’re not going to. Out of pure spite and malice, I suspect.

    • CW

      When traffic is flowing well on 66, it’s a good excuse to drag race though.

  • Twelve-Year Bike Commuter

    Those ancient, faded painted stop signs on the Custis Trail made no sense once the County installed the bike-specific red-yellow-green lights and the standard cross-walk lights. Has anyone ever sign a stop sign for a car in the same intersection as a traffic light?

    Now that they’re gone, the County should put up some big yellow caution signs for the bikers to remind them to slow way down through the intersections, even if they have the light/pedestrian signal. Plenty of cars still fail to yield and go right through the crosswalks. Everyone needs to exercise a little more caution in those intersections.

  • Bender

    Conflicted with the traffic signal at this intersection?

    There is NO traffic signal here that allows for one to go against the flow of traffic.

    At that spot, Lynn runs one-way to the north. Lee Highway is separated in that area, with it running one-way to the west. But the biker in question was not travelling west on Lee Highway, he was going east — against the traffic. He did not have a green light to go east because there is no light on in that direction. The only lights at that intersection are westbound and northbound.

    Stop sign or not, going against the traffic, a biker does not have the right-of-way. A driver coming off the I-66 exit ramp is looking out for northbound traffic from Lynn and slow pedestrians crossing the street. A driver is not expecting a fast-travelling bicycle to come zooming from the opposite direction.

    Removal of the stop will only add to the confusion here.

    • kc

      Have you ever been to that intersection? If you are a pedestrian or cyclist in the crosswalk of course there is a traffic light if you are going eastbound. How else would you know when it’s OK to cross the intersection?

    • bobco85

      Actually, the biker was not going against traffic. That would only be true if he were riding on Lee Highway. He was technically riding on the adjacent two-way Custis Trail.

      It is true that there is no red-yellow-green traffic signal for trail-users traveling eastbound across that intersection, but there is a walk signal. Using the crosswalk, the only signal he should have to follow is the walk signal. Having a stop sign painted on the ground is unnecessary because trail-users are supposed to stop anyways if they don’t have the walk light.

      I assume the cyclist deduced the Lee Highway light was green by seeing how the traffic was moving, but he should have followed the walk signal (it is unclear whether he did).

      • cyclist

        BTW, following the walk signal, legally, means only entering the intersection when the walk signal is green. A pedestrian or cyclist isn’t supposed to enter the intersection when it is counting down on a red (“don’t walk” – duh), that’s only for getting across after you enter on the green. The green part of the cycle there is about two seconds, but cyclists and peds routinely shoot through after it turns red.

  • Bender

    “It is true that there is no red-yellow-green traffic signal for trail-users traveling eastbound across that intersection, but there is a WALK signal. . . . he should have followed the WALK signal.”

    Again, there is NO EASTBOUND GREEN LIGHT on that part of westbound Lee Highway. At most there is a WALK signal. Not a “ride” signal, a WALK signal. Not a “travel 15-20 mph on your bike” signal, a WALK signal.

    If a person going eastbound on the path at westbound Lee Highway is going faster than walking speed, then a driver at the exit ramp might look at the corner, see that it is clear, then look for on-coming traffic on Lynn, see none, and turn, and a bicyclist who came zooming up to the intersection risks getting hit if he is not prepared to yield to turning cars.

    Failure to ride defensively, whether you think you have the right or not, is RECKLESS.

    • Will

      It is a mixed use trail, hence the driver must identify any user on the mixed use trail that has the right of way. Yes, caution should be exercised by both parties, that goes without saying.

  • Bender

    Let’s make it easy, huh?

    Arlington is so high on traffic calming — what this bike trail needs is a couple of pylons at the intersection, together with a massive speed bump that forces bicyclists to slow to walking speed or stop altogether.

    • cyclist

      I cross that intersection on my bike alot, and I’d support some kind of speed humps for bikes. If we do it for cars, why not for bikes?

      • Will

        If we do it for bikes, let’s do it for cars at the same intersection.

    • bobco85

      I agree with your idea on speed humps. There do not seem to be any plans for slowing down cyclists at the intersection in the current plan for renovation.

      As long as they are speed humps and not speed bumps, I would be fine with it. If the humps are too jolting, however, there is the possibility (just like with drivers and speed bumps) that cyclists will try and bike around them, even moving onto Lee Highway if necessary.

      Of course, I hope they install bike signals (like they do just a few blocks away on the Custis Trail) because that would eliminate the ambiguity altogether for what cyclists should do and are legally expected to do (those should be the same, IMO).

  • Arlingtron

    The rules of the crosswalk where drivers must yield only applies to pedestrians. If this biker did not dismount he is considered a “vehicle.” I often ride through this very crossing and, even through I don’t dismount, I ride with the walk signal at a walking pace and make sure turning drivers make eye contact with me.

    • Clarendon Cruiser

      Like +1 Dude.

      I do the same when I’m on my bike, and I STOP and unclip when the crosswalk sign is red or flashing.

    • Contrarian

      Actually, under VA law a cyclist operating in a crosswalk is a pedestrian. Look it up.

      • headache

        Yeah, but there’s a signed bike trail on this crosswalk, so it’s mixed use, a sidewalk & a bike trail, which has led to a confusing mix of signs and signals and confusion by everyone who uses it. Just analyzing who is right in terms of the Virginia code doesn’t do anything to correct the problem because the code doesn’t address the situation. How absurd it is: you are a vehicle one place, a pedestrian another, with the end result that it’s legal for someone to turn you into road kill. Not great public policy or public works.

        • cyclist

          No, legally the bikes are always pedestrians when they are on a sidewalk or pedestrian crosswalk. Only when they are riding on the street like a vehicle are they a vehicle. I don’t think the law is confusing in that regard, though the real-world application certainly can be.

    • cyclist

      @ Arlingtron:

      “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.”

      § 46.2-904

      So even if you don’t dismount, you’re legally a pedestrian.

      You are smart to cross carefully though. I also always wait for the green walk signal at this intersection before starting to cross, which is both much safer and in compliance with the law.

  • meaghan goldsmith

    Cyclist’s fault. He should be responsible for damages. I don’t know why cyclist feel they own the roads. You expect to be treated equally to cars but fignore the same laws we must follow. At the end of the day, my car will overpower your bike and you will be dead

    • Will

      This MUST be tongue in cheek, it’s too ridiculous otherwise…

  • Not a good solution.

    I often (well, basically everyday) turn right from I-66 exit ramp into N Lynn Street towards Key Bridge.

    Usually I turn from the center lane of the ramp into the center lane of N Lynn St. While turning, I have to check for:
    – bicyclists, pedestrians and runners going east on Lee Hwy/Vernon Trail,
    – bicyclists, pedestrains, and runners going west – and these are really hard to see because they are far behind my right shoulder and often obscured by cars turning right from the right lane of the I-66 ramp,
    – cars turning right from the right lane of the I-66 ramp, some of which may want to go into the same lane as I. Same stupid drivers would even try to go from the right lane of the ramp into two left lanes of N Lynn St (those going into GW Pkwy)
    – cars illegally turing right from the left lane of the I-66 ramp (pretty common)
    – cars in front of me that may brake suddenly to avoid a suddenly appearing bycicle.

    I agree that the bicyclists have the right of way, but if they ride very fast, it is really hard to see them on time, while trying to check on all of the above. I feel very uneasy there.

    This intersection should be modified to slow down the bicycles considerably. Of course, reinstating the STOP sign would not solve the problem of accidents, it only would shift the responsibility.

    The best solution would be to modify the intersection to get rid of the conflict. Either by building a bridge and or tunnel, or by removing concurrent green light for the I-66 ramp (inlcuding right-turning vehicles) and for bikes/pedestrians crossing N Lynn St. Of course, “no turn on right” should be also added for the I-66 ramp then.


Subscribe to our mailing list