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Morning Traffic Trouble in Rosslyn

by ARLnow.com October 15, 2012 at 8:40 am 4,457 42 Comments

It wasn’t a great morning to drive or bike on N. Lynn Street in Rosslyn.

A cyclist was struck by a vehicle at the dangerous intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway around 8:15 this morning. The cyclist was treated for a reported knee injury and transported to the hospital.

Although emergency activity from the accident blocked a right-hand lane of Lynn Street, the bigger traffic problem was the ramp to the northbound GW Parkway. According to scanner traffic, ongoing rock stabilization work on the parkway — which has blocked a left-hand lane — is causing traffic on the parkway to slow and, in turn, is causing major delays for traffic merging on to the parkway from Rosslyn.

As of 8:30 a.m., cars heading to the parkway were backed up all the way to Wilson Blvd on Lynn Street.

  • GF Rep

    Perhaps it is time to reassess how cyclists pedestrians and
    motorists are expected to “get along”.

    It is infuriating when the arguments are totally one-sided — rarely does one hear how cyclists can improve their behaviors to ensure safety.

    A significant minority of cyclists are ruining it for everyone. The
    motorists must be responsible anytime their negligence leads to accidents. No question.

    But without surveillance it will remain difficult to police these incidents fairly.

    A CTJ (come to Jesus) is needed desperately.

    • B Div

      I’m not sure what you mean by “surveillance”.

      Where would you do your surveillance? Every intersection? With cameras or cops? It’s a fine idea, but totally impractical.

      Of course both cyclists and drivers should follow the rules of the road. When one or other group don’t, accidents happen.

      It’s a sad fact however that drivers (particularly in this area) have to drive as though everyone else on the road – other drivers, motorbikes, cyclists, pedestrians – are all deaf, dumb, and blind. Because that’s the way a lot of them behave.

      Putting a camera on every corner is not going to change that, and saying ‘the cyclist was in the wrong’ is not going to bring back sombody you hit with your car.
      Bad enough for them and their family – almost as awful for you if you have to live with the maiming or death of the cyclist, even if strictly speaking it wasn’t your fault.

      WAYA”CTJ”IITOTYAUIIYP? (why are you abbreviating “Come To Jesus” if it’s the only time you’re using it in your post?)

      • GF Rep

        One can make blanket generalizations about any group for that matter. At least I was magnanimous enough to preface my comments with “significant minority”. You seem to think that
        all drivers are bad….

        It is also a sad fact that people that do not take responsibility
        for their own safety simply single out that it must be the
        vehicle’s fault because it is larger and can levy the most damage.

        I have never been injured on foot, bicycle, nor on rollerbladed since I’ve moved here – why you might ask? Because I value my life more than “being right”.

        • Michael H.

          I’ve never been injured by a car or bike either. But I see many close calls, almost every day. I have to say that most of those near-misses are caused by aggressive or reckless car drivers (texting while driving, talking on a cellphone while driving, etc.).

          I see cyclists roll through stop signs and even red lights, but I also see many car drivers do that, despite the claims of some that only cyclists break traffic laws. Many people from every group break traffic laws with regularity, but the fact remains that cars have the most potential for creating deadly situations. And the fact is that tens of thousands of people are killed every year in the U.S. by car drivers, while there are perhaps a handful (if that) of fatal bike accidents.

          • HappyCyclist

            isnt this one of the most notorious places in ArlCo for bike/car conflicts? Isnt it mostly an infrastructure problem?

          • NoVapologist

            Who claimed that only cyclists break traffic laws?

    • CW

      I am assuming that this is satire since you accuse a group of making one-sided arguments and then make one yourself.

      • Busted

        Behind every truth is a bad joke….

    • Captain_Obvious

      “A significant minority of cyclists are ruining it for everyone”? Are you serious ? You mean, a significant minority of cyclists actually obey the laws of the road.

  • Biker

    I go through that intersection daily. While there are a few bikers that zoom across against the light, there are quite a few that are obeying the laws and being cautious, only to have right-on-red turners not yield. I actually considered changing my route for a while to avoid this intersection because there is no good time to go. My guess is either the biker was being dumb, or it was someone turning right on red not paying attention.

  • B Div

    I do not think all drivers are bad.

    Just most. Most everyone.

    All drivers, all bikers, all walkers.

    • bobco85

      I wholeheartedly agree. Everyone, especially in this area, regardless if they are driving, biking, or walking, takes unnecessary risks from time to time (some people seem to do it all the time). It could be speeding while driving through a neighborhood, running a red light while biking, or jaywalking. We all do these things from time to time.

      I like to think of it as this: we all make mistakes, are lucky when no bad consequences result, and should always be cogniscant of this.

  • rosslynresident

    Living on N Meade Street just up from where the Iwo Jima Memorial is, traffic was a disaster this morning. Traffic backed up past the memorial, probably all the way up until N Marshall Drive.

    • Dawn

      It took me 15 min to cross of Lynn street on 19th.. Nightmare!

  • Clarendon bud

    Cyclists need to stop at red lights
    Just like cars. They often do not. Everybody play by the rules.
    If things keep up get the bikes off the road, make it for sidewalks and trails only. Bikes slow traffic down at best

  • arachne

    Sigh. I’m saddened to read this, a few minutes after I posted about how annoying it is as a driver to have to wait for a (seeminly) growing number of bike commuters cross Lynn St at Key Bridge. And I say this as a bike commuter and heavy duty cyclist myself. 🙂

    A couple of points in response to the comments posted already. No fault has been ascribed – either to the driver or the cyclist, so I’m not sure why assumptions need to be made that simply repeat incorrect generalizations about both “sides” from a hundred previous posts. You know what I’d like to see? An original answer.

    Facts – there are dangerours drivers and dangerous cyclists. There are safe cyclists and safe drivers. Accidents happen though no one person’s fault. Accidents happen because of a momentary lapse of concentration. Accidents happen because of criminal or negligent bahavior. I’ve nearly creamed cyclists because they were in my blind spot or coming up fast, or I simply didn’t see them. I’ve nearly been creamed on my bike by drivers for all of the above reasons and sometimes because there is an inherent incompatability between the speeds and sizes of cars vs bikes.

    Facts – we ALL share responsibility for obeying the rules of the road in whatever mode of transportation we chose. We ALL share responsibility to be courteous to each other (bless you everyone who lets me roll through a four way stop because you recognize how much harder it is for me to get back up to speed than you in your car). We ALL share the responsbility of remembering that the cyclist is tiny can’t be seen well (lights, hi-viz, occupying the lane all help, but they’re still damned hard to see) and the car is huge and could do far more damage to the cyclist in an accident.

    Sadly, it’s a shared responsbility but an unequal impact.

    As a cyclist, I’d KILL for a bridge over Lynn St so I could feel safe and not worry that I’m pissing off the drivers. As a driver, I’d KILL for a bridge over Lynn St so I don’t have to sit and wait so long and hold my breath as I turn because a cyclist could come up from the trail on the right quickly and attempt to legally cross.

    /reasonable rant

  • NoVA RN

    Was the need for rock stabilization just discovered (and emergent) and is that why the project is happening now? If not, I don’t understand why the project didn’t take place over the summer, when there was less traffic. The back-up this weekend coming off of the Spout Run Parkway (near Lee Highway) was horrendous, as a result of the detour from the construction.

    • bman

      it has been ongoing for quite some time!

      thanks for your words of wisdom.

      • Dawn

        They had it shut down two weeks ago, had to detour around to get to 495

  • Mr X

    Arlington County, if you are reading this, please consider speeding up the improvements for that crossing:


    • bobco85

      From the link:

      50% Engineering Design – Fall 2011
      90% Engineering Design – Summer 2012
      Final VDOT Plan Approval – Fall 2012
      Begin Construction – Spring 2013
      Project Complete – Summer 2014

      In the meantime, I think they should incorporate three modes at the intersection: green light on Lynn (red on Lee, don’t walk signal), green light on Lee (red on Lynn, don’t walk signal), and red lights with “No Turn On Red” signs on Lynn and Lee (walk signal, a.k.a. “pedestrian scramble”). This way only cars are moving during the first two modes, and only pedestrians are moving during the third mode.

      • Eric

        Motorists turning right are currently allowed to use two lanes and the parallel turning cars view of the crosswalk is obstructed by the other car. The bike/pedestrian traffic is two-way. This is the major source of conflict between bikes/pedestrians and vehicles.

        I suggest further enhancement: For Northbound (exiting) GW Parkway traffic turning right onto Lynn St: Have a “Right Turn on Green Arrow Only”. During the green arrow phase there should be no bike/pedestrian movement across Lynn St.

        • Eric

          Oops. I mean westbound I-66 traffic exiting onto Lynn Street/ Key Bridge.

  • Cletus Van Damme

    Why am I not surprised?! Start the improvements for the crossing tomorrow.

  • arlmimprov

    Thank goodness that nobody was seriously hurt.

    That intersection is on my running route. I am sooooo cautious everytime I cross there. I know the cars coming up are often just looking at the light or to see if cars are coming and rarely even glance into the crosswalk before stepping on the pedal and gunning it. I am very defensive when I cross streets.

    I never step out without making eye contact with the driver. Does it slow me down on my runs? Yes. Has it saved me from getting hit over the 20 years I’ve been crossing there? Most definitely.

    Just like Clarendon–the problem is there is not enough time for all pedestrians and bikers to cross for cars in traffic to make it through the light. Just like in Clarendon crosswalk–cars try to jump the light or swerve around pedestrians. It is frustrating on all sides. However, if you are behind the wheel of a car and the pedestrians/bikers are crossing legally–you just have to wait. A car will do much more damage.

  • Constructive

    How about a blinking light with a sign that reads “motor vehicles have the right of way” at that intersection (if that is the case). I’m not a cyclist, and I rarely drive at that spot, but I read about accidents occurring there more than I’d like to.

    • Mr X

      The problem is that when the walk sign for pedestrians is on, many drivers still make a (legal) turn on red from I-66 to the Key Bridge.

      Neither party is at fault — pedestrians/cyclists nor drivers — but it is dangerous nevertheless since there are so many people who make a turn on red without really looking carefully.

    • CW

      How is that constructive? Motor vehicles do not have right of way when the crosswalk is on the walk phase.

    • bman

      because they DO NOT have the right of way when the SIGN says WALK and the light says RED.

      • CW

        Assuming you were trying to respond to me, the WALK sign corresponds to a crosswalk which also coexists as a multi-use trail. So yes, trail users are granted all the rights of pedestrians when the WALK sign is on.

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    I’m a runner and a bicyclist and use the Custis trail daily.

    I see two very strange activities from SOME bikers at this intersection:

    1) Bikers will zig zag across Lynn Street in the middle of traffic to get to the right side. They do this nowhere near a crosswalk. These cyclist need to be pulled over and heavily fined.

    2) Bikers will ride in the right lane going across The Key Bridge as if they own it (and they may, by regulations) but it certainly isn’t smart when cars are accelerating up to 45 mph to get across the Key Bridge. There needs to be a dedicated bike lane on the Key Bridge.

    • CW

      I’ve very rarely seen cyclists take the lane on the Key bridge. Maybe single-digit times in 3 years of recreational riding and about 9 months of daily cycle commuting. That said, I would not oppose a dedicated cycle lane, or at least a feature to make the path wider over the bridge. It is the most dreaded portion of the commute, as it is nearly impassible due to people not exercising common sense on this very crowded thoroughfare.

      • GodFilasSeeingEyeDog

        It’s really difficult to see something when you are consciously turning your head to it.

  • Rich

    I get on this route from 50E and take it to the GW (I work in Gaithersburg).

    This morning it took me 30 minutes to get to the GW entrance from the ramp that puts you onto Lynn. This was BEFORE the cyclist. The police need to pay attention to the motorists “blocking the box” at Lee Highway and Lynn street, as they are taking a left to get onto key bridge. This backs traffic up immensely.

    In the summertime, I could drive that route in under 3 minutes. Granted, it can’t be that short during fall season, but 30 minutes makes your blood boil.

    The cops need to fix this traffic flow ASAP. Its an awful situation.

  • Kerry

    The backup had nothing to do with the biker or the construction. The backup was due to a woman with a flat tire blocking the right lane of GW Parkway northbound at the first overlook of the river. Rather than drive 20 ft and get into the overlook lot, she decided blocking the right lane for over an hour while she waited on roadside assistance was a good idea. Time to learn to change your own flats people.

    • bman


    • Rich

      Honestly, it causes miles of backup at the wrong time of day. You should get ticketed for it. I understand if its an overpass, or no where to go, but 90% of the GW has a place to hop over a small curb to the grass.

      • Fumunda

        Hopping over a curb on your rim might get you out of the way – it also might break your axle or cause you to lose control and create an even worse accident. I drive the GW every day, and there are definitely places that curb isn’t as small as you make it out to be.

        • Rich

          Oh please. MOST of the GW the curb is a few inches tall. I drive a 2 seater roadster and could easily get over those curbs without any damage. The curb height you’re talking about is makes up for about 5% of that road. I’m obviously not suggesting sedans to barrel over an 8 inch curb. Quit being pedantic.

  • Streetcar Sally

    Clearly we need a streetcar system throughout A-town.

    • drax

      No we don’t, and nobody has proposed that.


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