(Updated at 1:40 p.m.) This week, the Arlington County Police Department is holding its annual Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness campaign.
This morning and for part of the day Thursday, police will be conducting targeted, high-visibility traffic safety enforcement and public education in Clarendon and Crystal City.
— ArlingtonCountyPD (@ArlingtonVaPD) April 26, 2016
But is that enough to truly improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists in Arlington? In just the past week alone, two young people have been struck and seriously injured — while crossing in marked crosswalks along the pedestrian-heavy Rosslyn-Ballston corridor.
In both instances, nearby residents complained that drivers were chronically ignoring crossing pedestrians, driving too fast and driving while distracted — and that police enforcement is virtually non-existent.
Those two incidents aside, local drivers will tell you that pedestrians in Arlington make a habit of darting out into the road mid-block and crossing against traffic lights, often oblivious to oncoming traffic.
So what should be done about this, to improve safety for all? Should the Arlington County Police Department issue more tickets to drivers and pedestrians in an effort to curb serious accidents and bad behavior on both sides?
(Note: this poll and discussion concerns drivers and pedestrians only. Say what you want about cyclists — and the drivers who sometimes cut them off — but the most pressing issue here is about what to do specifically about pedestrian and vehicle conflicts.)
From 8:30-10:30 a.m. tomorrow, and from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Thursday, Arlington officers will be participating in a special detail in the Crystal City and Clarendon areas, promoting the campaign and enforcing traffic law violations by motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
“Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year,” ACPD notes in a press release (below). “Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.”
On Tuesday, April 26, 2016 from 8:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and on April 28 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2016 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. This safety enforcement detail will be held in the Clarendon and Crystal City areas. This campaign will run from April 11, 2016 through May 8, 2016. Officers will enforce violations of traffic laws by motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians. Members of the media are invited to attend to cover the detail.
The detail is part of the 2016 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington County Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are designed to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.
(Updated at 4 p.m.) Once one of Arlington’s top 5 intersections for collisions — particularly those involving pedestrians and cyclists — the “Intersection of Doom” in Rosslyn now isn’t even in the top 25.
Safety improvements at the intersection have dramatically reduced accidents at the intersection of Lynn Street and Lee Highway, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering, in a new county-produced video.
The county faced a challenge with the intersection: how to design quick and relatively inexpensive improvements at an intersection where 1,700 bicyclists per day try to cross a street also being crossed by 600 vehicles per hour exiting I-66.
“The obvious thing to do is separate these movements,” Marcus said.
Bicyclists and pedestrians now get a 10 second head start to start crossing Lynn Street while the traffic exiting I-66 waits at a red light with an illuminated no right turn signal. Pedestrians and cyclists then get a don’t cross signal while traffic turning right onto Lynn Street clears out.
Those relatively simple “operational improvements,” along with traffic enforcement and a public education campaign by Arlington County police, have dropped the intersection out of the county’s top 25 most crash-prone, Marcus says.
Despite the improvement, Marcus said the county is getting ready to begin a planning process for a more permanent solution to pedestrian-car conflicts at the intersection.
“There’s certainly an opportunity to build something,” he said.
The enforcement action will target motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians caught breaking traffic laws in Ballston, East Falls Church and Crystal City. It’s part of a fall bicycle and pedestrian safety awareness program.
With the days getting shorter and daylight saving time ending Sunday, pedestrian and bicyclist safety is an important law enforcement focus. Most fatal pedestrian accidents occur after dark.
From an ACPD press release:
Between October 27-29, 2015, the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Fall Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program in the Ballston, East Falls Church and Crystal City areas.
Officers will be at the following locations:
October 27th – Fairfax Drive & N. Monroe Street from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
October 28th – 1700-1900 block of N. Sycamore Street from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
October 29th – 1500-2300 block of Crystal Drive from 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
This enforcement detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign which runs from October 26, 2015 through November 15, 2015. Officers will ticket motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians who violate traffic laws.
These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Pedestrians and bicyclists account for a quarter of the traffic fatalities in the region, nearly 90 deaths per year.
Motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians are reminded to pay attention to one another and always proceed with caution and care for each other’s safety.
The enforcement detail will take place during the morning rush hour and around lunchtime, at intersections in Rosslyn, Courthouse and on Columbia Pike.
Among the intersections where officers will be stationed is the so-called Intersection of Doom at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street.
In addition to issuing citations, police personnel will be handing out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists.
On Tuesday, March 24, 2015, from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. and again from noon to 1:00 pm, officers with the Arlington County Police Department’s Special Operations Section will be out promoting the 2015 Spring Pedestrian & Bicycle Safety Awareness Program. The pedestrian safety enforcement detail will be held in the Rosslyn, Courthouse and Columbia Pike areas. This campaign will run from March 23, 2015 through April 19, 2015. Officers will enforce traffic, bicycle and pedestrian laws at the intersections of Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street, N. Courthouse Road and N. 15th Street, Columbia Pike and S. Dinwiddie Street and Columbia Pike and S. Scott Street.
The detail is part of the 2015 Street Smart Pedestrian, Driver, and Bicyclist Safety Campaign and the Arlington Police Department’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Awareness Program to promote pedestrian and bicycle safety across the region. These programs are set up to carry out education and enforcement campaigns throughout the year in order to ensure everyone shares the roads safely. Approximately 25 percent of the traffic fatalities in the Washington area are pedestrians and bicyclists, with nearly 90 deaths per year.
Officers will ticket motorists who violate traffic laws or do not yield for pedestrians in crosswalks. In addition, pedestrians will be cited for jaywalking. Public Service Aides will hand out safety information to drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists who commute through these busy intersections.
The Arlington County Police Department has installed one of its movable-type signs — notably used to tell drivers “Don’t hit the car in front of you” in 2013 — at the intersection of N. Lynn Street, Lee Highway and the I-66 westbound off-ramp. The sign tells drivers to “Yield to Pedestrian,” a persistent problem as those coming off I-66 try to turn right on a green light toward the Key Bridge.
The sign is the latest in a multi-departmental effort to reduce accidents at the intersection. Last month, a temporary, no-turn-on-red signal was installed. The timing of the lights has been altered to give pedestrians and cyclists — coming from the Custis Trail to the west and the Mt. Vernon Trail to the east — a head start before cars begin turning.
In the future, more permanent measures like taking away a travel lane on Lee Highway and extending the curbs have already been approved and are in design phases.
When the sign was initially installed, it was blocking the pedestrian walk signal, but it has since been moved, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“The sign has been moved and strategically placed next to the signal,” he said. “A pedestrian brought [its placement] to our attention. It’s a good thing that citizens are paying attention to that sign and taking some safety precautions because that’s intersection is known to have quite a bit of interest.”
Photo [email protected]
The County Board approved an easement at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Hudson Street, allowing the county’s Department of Environmental Services to extend the curb at the intersection, improving sight lines for crossing pedestrians and shortening the time they are walking in the street.
“These curb extension go out about six feet from the edge of the sidewalk curb line at the corners of intersections and they shadow the ends of the on-street parking,” DES Program Manager Bill Roberts told ARLnow.com. “Curb extensions have been built along Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and throughout the commercial corridors at most of the marked intersections over the last 10 years … and within the residential neighborhoods at the higher-volume pedestrian crossings.”
This final curb extension — in front of the recently opened Don Tito restaurant — is the culmination of the Clarendon Central Park revitalization that began in 2013. County officials held a ribbon-cutting for the new park in November of that year, but the work on the last pedestrian improvement is expected to take a month this spring.
In addition to making it safer for pedestrians in the heavily foot-trafficked corridor, the extensions will have ADA-compliant ramps.
No on-street parking will be removed as a result of the curb extension, we’re told. Construction is expected to take about a month.
Photo via Google Maps
The Rosslyn Business Improvement District is planning to reshape the sidewalks of Rosslyn next year.
Recently, BID employees have tagged newspaper boxes around the area for removal by tomorrow (Friday), but Rosslyn BID Urban Design Director Lucia deCordre said they will soon be replace by modern newsbox corrals in high-pedestrian areas, instead of the current semi-scattered layout around various parts of Rosslyn.
The corrals, new benches designed with slots placed to resemble the lights of Rosslyn’s skyline, parklets for outdoor dining and WiFi-enabled streetlights are among the elements the BID is planning on bringing to Rosslyn, starting in the spring. No active newsboxes will be removed, the BID says — the notices were placed on the boxes to have the vendors contact the BID about the plans for the corrals.
“We’re really looking to give a facelift to the sidewalks,” deCordre told ARLnow.com today. “We did an inventory of everything we have out there with streetscape, how to make them more pedestrian friendly and hang out a little more and support the retail.”
The BID is in the process of submitting plans to Arlington County to install prototypes of several of the designs at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Oak Street. If approved, the prototypes would be installed in the spring, and, if it’s successful, more elements will be introduced all over the BID’s footprint, which extends to N. Quinn Street.
“We’re going to take a full block and at least get one or two of the pieces so we can see how it all interacts together, how it works together,” said Mary-Claire Burick, the president of the Rosslyn BID. “It’s really all about the pedestrian experience. This really just takes us to that next step of that really modern, high-end contemporary feel.”
Some of the design elements will also have functions for those in the neighborhood. One of the mobile phone charging kiosks is already operational at the corner of N. Moore and 19th Streets, and Burick said it’s “very popular.” The streetlights would be enabled with WiFi, creating a network throughout the district.
Disclosure: Rosslyn BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
The change has been advocated by the Bluemont Civic Association (BCA) for years, and the neighborhood’s representatives have posited that the lane reduction, coupled with sidewalk expansion, will make the corridor more walkable without increasing traffic congestion.
The project, which Arlington County says is in design phase with reconfiguration set for spring 2015, will reduce westbound and eastbound traffic to one lane each, while adding a center lane for left turns and bike lanes on either side of the street. The plan also calls for consolidating bus stops in this stretch to reduce possible congestion.
Currently, there are no funded plans to expand the sidewalks.
County staff is holding a general community meeting on Nov. 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., at Arlington Traditional School (855 N. Edison Street), to discuss the plans. The county also plans for a “robust community notification process throughout the corridor,” before the restriping and repaving work begins.
The plans to reduce the lanes on Wilson Blvd was initially recommended by the BCA’s Sidewalk Safety Task Force and supported by the BCA in October 2012. Arlington decided to incorporate the plans when it made its restriping and repaving calendar for this year.
“We are grateful that Arlington County is listening to us and working to make our ‘Main Street’ a safer and more pleasant place for all residents and visitors,” BCA President John Lau said in a press release. “Working together, the efforts of neighborhood residents and county officials have led us to this long-awaited first step for improving our neighborhood and an important Arlington corridor.”
While the county approved the requested changes to Wilson Blvd’s lane configuration, the BCA’s requests to have the power lines — with poles located on Wilson Blvd’s sidewalks — moved underground was deemed prohibitively expensive by the county. The BCA is also hoping that the improvements be extended for all of Wilson Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, something county staff said it will continue to explore.
“This is a demonstration project that will be monitored further by the County to determine whether a complete streets project — currently unfunded — is viable along the entire section of Wilson Boulevard, west of North Glebe Road,” the project website reads. “If successful, staff will continue to work with the community to develop this future potential project.”
The plan, when it was being discussed last June, received some concern for businesses located along the corridor. The sidewalk task force reported businesses were “extremely concerned” that reducing the number of lanes would “gum up traffic to the point where they would lose business.”
The BCA cited the stretch of Washington Blvd west of N. Glebe Road, which goes from four lanes to two and has higher peak traffic volume, as an example of why the Wilson Blvd proposal won’t significantly worsen traffic.
Images via Arlington County
A man who got drunk, sped down the wrong way of a one-way street in Clarendon and caused a crash that seriously injured a pedestrian earlier this year has pleaded guilty to a felony charge.
Pentagon City resident Benjamin Andruss, 37, pleaed guilty yesterday to felony DUI maiming. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.
The crash happened between 8:30 and 9:00 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12. Prosecutors say Andruss had just left First Down Sports Bar in Ballston, where he had consumed 4-5 beers and three glasses of whiskey while watching afternoon football games. A friend encouraged him to take a cab, but Andruss insisted on driving.
Andruss drove from the Ballston Common Mall parking garage to Clarendon, revving the engine of his Mercedes-Benz at stop lights and “speeding the whole way,” prosecutors said. At the intersection of Wilson, Clarendon and Washington Blvds, he again revved his engine at the stop light, then accelerated straight through the intersection when the light turned green.
Andruss sped the wrong way down Wilson Blvd, past Spider Kelly’s and other bars. His Mercedes ran up on the sidewalk, striking the side of the Clarendon War Memorial. In his path was a pedestrian, a man around 30 years old who works for the U.S. Department of Energy.
The pedestrian tried to dive out of the way, but Andruss struck a parked car, which then struck the pedestrian. The man regained consciousness in the middle of the street.
From a statement of facts entered by prosecutors as part of the plea:
He was taken by ambulance to GW Hospital, where he was treated for numerous injuries to his head and left elbow. Both required serious treatment. His head required more than a dozen staples. His broken elbow required surgery, the insertion of a metal plate, and screws to ensure regained functionality. The elbow now has a permanent visible scar. And [the victim], despite weeks of physical therapy, has yet to regain – and may never regain – a full range of motion.
After the crash, the Defendant exited the vehicle and appeared to try to walk away. He was prevented from doing so by onlookers. The Defendant was described as unsteady on his feet, with slurred speech and bloodshot/glassy eyes. He repeatedly “fell” into an officer’s arms as they spoke. The Defendant admitted to drinking and refused to perform all field sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest at 9:20pm.
“Mr. Andruss made a series of poor decisions that evening,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Josh Katcher told ARLnow.com. “He drank too much, he didn’t take a cab, he drove recklessly from Ballston to Clarendon, and then he drove the wrong way, down the wrong street, at the wrong time.”
“Try to imagine this from the victim’s perspective: he’s minding his own business, walking down a sidewalk, when he hears an engine revving, sees a set of headlights speeding towards him, and has no more than a second to try to dive out of the way,” Katcher continued. “Next thing he knows he is on his back in the middle of the street with people looking down at him telling him not to move. This is the type of mayhem that happens when people drink and drive. There is no defense, no reason, and no excuse for this type of behavior.”
Andruss is scheduled to be sentenced on Feb. 6, 2015. He’s expected to receive a sentence of 1-5 years in prison.
This is not the only legal trouble Andruss is facing. Three days after the crash he was fired, and a week after that he was sued by his former employer, accused of making hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of improper purchases on his company credit card and withdraws from the company checking account, all while deliberately concealing evidence of his actions.
The Rosslyn intersection where cyclists and pedestrians face drivers exiting I-66 has received safety modifications in the past two weeks and more changes are on the way, county officials said on a tour of the site Tuesday morning.
In advance of a $5 million overhaul slated to be complete in summer 2016, Arlington County and the Virginia Department of Transportation changed the timing of the traffic lights and walk signals at Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street last week, said Larry Marcus, the county’s head of transportation engineering.
“Pedestrians and cyclists are the priority at this location, period,” Marcus said as county officials and police watched people navigate the corner some locals call the “Intersection of Doom.”
One change is minor in cost but should be significant in impact: A no-turn-on-red sign is being installed at N. Lynn Street for those exiting I-66. That’s being done “as soon as possible,” Marcus said.
Additionally, cyclists and pedestrians crossing N. Lynn Street using the Custis Trail previously had a walk signal when all traffic lights were red — known as a “leading interval” — for just 2 seconds; the length of that signal was increased last week to 5 seconds, Marcus said. The county plans to increase the leading interval time to 15 to 20 seconds in the next six months, once new signal technology is installed.
“We’re giving more time for pedestrians and bikes to go first,” Marcus said, adding that new caution signs for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will be added to the intersection.
Drivers headed west on Lee Highway, meanwhile, now have an additional 10 seconds of biker- and pedestrian-free time to clear the intersection.
To pair with engineering changes, the Arlington County Police Department has ramped up traffic enforcement and educational efforts at the corner where numerous car-on-bike accidents have occurred, Capt. James Wasem said.
“People can expect to see uniformed police officers out here flagging cars over, directing traffic, handing out some brochures and citing violations,” he said about the measures enacted about two weeks ago.
Police issued 228 citations at the intersection from Sept. 15, 2013 through the same date this year: 133 for failure to obey traffic signals, 32 for improper turning and 1 for failure to yield to a pedestrian. Fifteen car crashes occurred at the intersection within that period, police said; just two crashes on record involved pedestrians.
The ACPD assigns an officer to direct traffic at the intersection on weekdays from 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. but must spread officers between that corner, schools and other frequent crash sites. The department began sending an officer to the location “as often as possible” following recommendations from a traffic analyst the county hired this year, Wasem said.
ACPD is seeking funding to assign two officers to Lee Highway and N. Lynn Street every weekday morning, plus an additional two officers at Lynn Street and Wilson Boulevard, Wasem said. The latter intersection has been facing a chronic problem of drivers “blocking the box” during rush hour since construction began on the Central Place project, blocking lanes of Lynn Street.
The additional staffing would cost $180,000 through next year.
The pedestrian was crossing Lee Highway at a corner locals have called the “Intersection of Doom” about 8:20 a.m. when the driver of a black SUV plowed into her, officers and a witness said. The driver was headed north on N. Lynn Street and was making a left turn onto Lee Highway when she hit a northbound pedestrian who was using the crosswalk and had the walk signal, according to officers and witness David Clark.
Clark, a 56-year-old Rosslyn resident, was doing his daily exercise routine in Arlington Gateway Park near the intersection when he heard a yell.
“I was coming up from my pushup when I saw a lady crossing the street, and then I heard her holler,” he said. “The lady was in the crosswalk when she got hit.”
An ACPD officer was directing traffic when the crash occurred but momentarily had his back turned to that corner, officers said. An officer is posted weekday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30 a.m. at the intersection packed with drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, an officer said.
The pedestrian was taken to a hospital and thought to have a broken ankle, according to police scanner traffic. Officers on the scene said the driver could be ticketed, pending an investigation.
In May, the Arlington County Board approved spending an additional $75,000 on safety improvements to the intersection where cyclists have been hit by drivers several times. The upgrades will extend curbs at the intersection’s corners, modify traffic signals, add on-street bike lanes and remove a travel lane from Lee Highway. Construction was set to start in the spring and be complete in summer 2016.
Stabbing Reported in Nauck — Three people, a man and two women, were reportedly stabbed in Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood late last night. The stabbing followed an argument among a group of people. One man was taken into custody following the incident. [WUSA9]
Pedestrian Signal Coming to George Mason Drive — The County Board is expected to approve a new HAWK pedestrian signal for S. George Mason Drive at the Army National Guard Readiness Center. The safety device will cost about $300,000, 80 percent of which will be paid by the federal government. [InsideNova]
New ‘Pop-Up’ Menu for Water & Wall — Water & Wall is launching a new “pop-up” lunch menu, featuring dishes with southern and mid-Atlantic influences and ingredients. The launch of the new menu follows the Virginia Square restaurant’s successful pop-up Chinese menu in August. [Eater D.C.]
Photo via Textron AirLand
NPS is preparing a new transportation plan and environmental assessment for the heavily-trafficked zone, Park Service Superintendent Alexcy Romero announced Thursday.
“The purpose of the [environmental assessment] is to reduce conflicts between trail, walkway and roadway users and to increase overall visitor safety around the memorial area,” Romero said in a statement.
The Park Service installed temporary flashing lights last winter at a crosswalk on the northbound GW Parkway, prior to the circle, to urge drivers to slow down for pedestrians and cyclists. In summer 2012, various other safety improvements — pedestrian warning signs, rumble strips for drivers and directional pavement markings — were installed.
The changes were made in response to a series of accidents and near-misses.
Comments on new safety improvements can be submitted through September 30 on the Park Service’s planning website.
The Park Service asks that commenters include their addresses, phone numbers and email addresses in their remarks, warning that “personal identifying information may be made publicly available at any time.”
Additionally, park staff will set up information booths at Alexandria farmers markets and near Memorial Circle.
The public will have opportunities to review the transportation plan following its release this fall, according to NPS. The Park Service is expected to make a final decision on the plan by the summer of 2016.
Photo (top) via Google Maps
A pedestrian was rushed to the hospital during rush hour Thursday morning after she was struck by a taxi close to the Rosslyn Metro station.
The woman was walking north on N. Moore Street, crossing busy 19th Street N. about 9:15 a.m. when she was hit by a D.C. cab, witnesses and the cab driver said.
The cab’s passenger, on her way to work, said her ride was interrupted by a shout.
“I heard a scream and then he slammed on his brakes,” the passenger said, declining to provide her name.
A witness said the pedestrian was in the crosswalk when she was hit.
“She didn’t stop walking,” said a consultant, 34, who had been walking to work, noting that he didn’t see the color of the traffic signal.
The driver, 70-year-old Charlie Harrison, said the pedestrian crossed in front of his car as he had a green light.
“I never saw her. She walked right in front of the car,” the D.C. resident said, pointing to his dangling passenger-side mirror.
Harrison, who said he’s been behind the wheel professionally for 50 years, said safety is his top priority but admitted to having hit a pedestrian in D.C. “about a year ago.”
“The other person I hit was a drunk,” he said about the midday crash near 10th and U streets.
The pedestrian hit Thursday morning was transported to George Washington University Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Arlington police said.
Officers at the scene declined to disclose whether Harrison would be charged for the crash, and Universal Cab refused to comment.