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THE SAFE CROSSINGS CAMPAIGN

The Safe Crossings Campaign was a Fairfax County Virginia pedestrian advocacy initiative.  It provided assistance to citizens who needed help petitioning Elected Officials for improvements to roads that are unsafe for bicyclist to ride on, for pedestrians to walk along and to cross. 

The main focus of the Campaign was, and still is, a particularly dangerous stretch of Richmond Highway (U.S. Route#1), that bisects the Mt Vernon and Lee District and runs between Alexandria and the Fairfax Annex in Fort Belvoir.   

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Support and Recommendations for Safety Improvements                   


Official Support for Recommendations


Additional Metroped Support for Recommendations


Potential Funding Sources

 

Additional ‘Safe Crossing’ Information

 

The Official View of U.S. Route 1



Dave Lyons
 Founder Safecrossings

'ONCE AGAIN, THERE’S BLOOD ON RICHMOND HIGHWAY"

At approximately 1600 this evening, a 50 year old woman was struck and critically injured in the 8500 block of Richmond Highway, less than 100 yards from where Mr. Timothy Gray was struck and killed on November 23rd. She suffered severe facial trauma from being flung into the windshield, and was taken to Fairfax Hospital by Medic unit, because the helicopter was unable to fly in the inclement weather. She is in critical condition, and I am unsure of her prognosis.

This hit is the 4th in a small stretch of Richmond Highway in less than 10 months. The area between Lukens La and Frye Rd continues to be one of the dangerous pieces of Highway anywhere- yet nothing has been done, despite repeated promises to look at the problem. At the same time, the building continues without pause- work has started on the new townhouse community across from the post office, with construction workers running back and forth across the road.
Photo Credit: Washington Post

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Robert Brubaker
Director Metroped

Area pedestrian advocate Bob Brubaker questioned [State Transportation Secretary] Clement  about funds to improve pedestrian safety on the Richmond Highway corridor were 21 people have been killed n the past six years.
Article and Photo Credit: Mount Vernon Voice Vol. 2 #3 

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Bob and Dave join Elected Officials to commemorate the first pedestrian safety sign
Article and Photo Credit: Mount Vernon Voice Vol. 2 #16 

 

'Another Pedestrian Struck and Killed CrosswaMount Vernon Gazette July 7, 2005 


!! Latest News !!

Press mention of Metroped or Safe Crossing Campaign Issues

Safecrossings support

 ¿ESPANOL

Safe Crossings? es un grupo peatonal de la defensa situado en el condado Virginia de Fairfax. Proporcionamos ayuda a los ciudadanos que necesitan la ayuda que solicita a sus legisladores para las mejoras a los caminos que son inseguros para que los peatones y los bicyclists caminen a lo largo, al paseo de encendido, y a la cruz.

Nuestro primer proyecto de la ayuda es un estiramiento particularmente peligroso de la carretera de Richmond (US Route#1), eso biseca el Mt Vernon y el Lee District y funciona entre Alexandría y el anexo de Fairfax en la Fort Belvoir.

 


DEFINING THE PROBLEM

Why are more people getting injured and killed along Richmond Highway?

Richmond Highway is old.  It's current layout has existed for decades.  There have been few Pedestrian improvements over the years.   In many sections it lacks the basics of bicycle and pedestrian safety: sidewalks,  shoulders, crosswalks and traffic islands.

Sidewalks and Shoulders

At various location along Route 1, Pedestrians have no sidewalks: potentially muddy dirt paths have been trodden in their place.  Uncontrolled vegetation pushes many close to the roadway.  Commuters walking to bus-stops get to feel the whoosh from the mirrors of passing trucks.  At some locations Pedestrian use the unpaved shoulder as a path.  

 

< Route 1 (East Side) North of Quander Road

Unfortunately, many creek crossings have guard rails at the road edge, forcing walkers into the traffic lane.

 Route 1 (Ease side) South of Quander Road 

On many sections, bicyclists must ride in 12 foot the traffic lane.  There are no paved shoulders and worse, there's often a dangerous edge drop-off                               .

 


North of Janna Lee Av

Heading south toward Janna Lee Ave (Taco Lucos Restaurant) citizens, their back to traffic,  must step dangerously into the roadway.  

Not only pedestrians are at risk. A sleepy driver is often jarred as their car drifts to the shoulder.   Recently 2 young Marines were killed when their car flipped and crashed into the abutment near the upper right of the photo.

Crosswalks and Traffic Islands

There are painted crosswalks a some locations but only a few have raised concrete traffic islands in the median.  Crosswalks make sense for a 2 lane road and highway designer's appreciate the low cost of paint.  Unfortunately,  Route #1 pedestrians must cross 4 to 6 lanes of fast and  increasingly heavy traffic.  Many stand waiting on the double yellow line for a wide enough gap.

Where there is no median, crosswalks provide only the illusion of safety.  The problem is compounded by the many side streets and business entrances.  Drivers entering the Highway, many using cell phones, are too concerned with finding a break in the traffic to notice someone in the crosswalk.   Luck, not paint,  is the pedestrian's protection.

 

The Impact of the Woodlawn Road Closing

As a 'Sept 11' related emergency measure,  Fort Belvoir closed Woodlawn Road (SR #618) and a portion of Beulah Road (SR #613).  This closing effectively shut down a major Richmond Highway (US #1) 'points west' connector for those living north of Fort Belvoir.   A high percentage of this traffic must now head north to the already dangerous Lockheed Blvd.  This aggravates the already difficult situation faced by pedestrians in the Route #1 corridor.  


Rt#1 at Belvoir Lieber Gate

Cyclists, denied access to U.S. Bike Route 1, must now use dangerous U.S. Route #1


Rt#1 at Belvoir Gunston overpass

During the Mount Vernon 15th Annual Town Meeting on 26 Jan 2002, Captain Barrett (Commander Mount Vernon Police Station) cited that since Fort Belvoir has closed Woodlawn Rd, accidents are up 38% around Fort Belvoir, 12% around the Mount Vernon Area and 6% in the Franconia area while accident rates are actually down in the rest of the county.   The Army representative indicated no plan to mitigate this critical situation. 

This increases the urgency for the Safe Crossing Campaign to communicate our message to VDOT.

It also begs the question,  why is the Army making no effort to provide alternatives?

 

 

SAFE CROSSINGS  POSITION PAPER
Last update 1/30/03

 

Background

Pedestrians will continue to cross all along the Route #1 corridor between Alexandria and the Fairfax Parkway to visit, shop, catch a bus, go to the Post Office or the Governmental Center, etc under different weather conditions and at all times of the day.  Barriers, lights and crosswalks will not restrict this human activity to selected areas.  Humans will take the shortest path to cross from point “A” to point “B”, as long as they feel they can make it safely across the road.  They may walk or run to accomplish this feat.  Many times they misjudge the speed of oncoming vehicles or fail to see a vehicle and become another Route #1 injury or fatality statistic.

 Recommendation

Using the lane width modification concept instituted on Sherwood Lane to slow traffic using this road, I recommend the following actions as initial low-cost fixes, if possible, to help protect pedestrian traffic crossing Route #1 between Alexandria and the Fairfax Parkway south of Fort Belvoir.

1.  Through communications with the VDOT determine the minimum acceptable lane width for roads where the traffic limit is 45 MPH.

2.  Determine the current lane width of Route #1 from Alexandria to the Fairfax Parkway.

3.  Recommend that the VDOT reduce the Route #1 lane width to the minimum permissible for 45 MPH and use this total road width reduction value to develop a pedestrian median in the middle of the road (between yellow double lines that currently divide the north/south bound lanes).  Width of the new median would be equal to the remainder of the current road total width minus the new minimized road total width permitted by VDOT.   The pedestrian median should be marked with yellow diagonal lines and each side of the median would be bordered with the double yellow lines. The median should also contain multiple vertical, reflective  marker signs indicating  “Caution - Pedestrian Median.” 

4. Develop an estimate of the cost of repainting the Route #1 Corridor as well as the purchase and installation of the Caution signs.  Institute a heavy lobby using the media and local politicians to sell the planned recommendations to VDOT.

 

Conclusion

These new Pedestrian Medians along the Route #1 Corridor, when coupled with a local education effort, will provide relatively safe areas for pedestrians to pause when crossing Route #1.   They would be required to consider the traffic only in one direction while traversing to the median and be able to pause in the median before considering crossing the remaining half of the road.  This project should greatly benefit Route #1 pedestrian safety until the planned major VDOT changes to the Route #1 Corridor are funded.

Source:  Safecrossing Advocate  Bob Barry [Wed March 20, 2002]

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Additional Concerns

The 45 mph speed limit is appears excessive in the densely populated section of the subject corridor.

All sections of the highway where housing and business establishments exist, should have a median area Concrete is preferred but a painted median is better then having pedestrians stranded on a double yellow line.   

Route 1 traffic lanes should be the minimum width allowed for the speed limit.  The recovered width should be applied to the median area of the road.   Traffic calming is an expected secondary benefit.

Structured 'Traffic Islands'  (protected refuge) should be applied at all crosswalks where there is not an existing concrete median.  At many locations the installation of traffic islands would result in travel lanes with a tight curve.  Considering the high speed of traffic on Route 1, inattentive drivers may swerve at the last minute.   To mitigate this problem,  where no concrete median exists at points along Route 1,  a sufficiently long wide painted median should be emplaced.

Where possible Crosswalks at busy intersections should be offset from the intersection.  Many pedestrians find that crosswalks immediately adjacent to turning traffic are not safe.  They want the extra safety provided by crosswalks off-set from the intersection or midway between the intersection. Where the above is not possible, 'No turn on red signs when pedestrians are present' should be installed 

Large Bright "Yield to Pedestrians" should be numerously placed in the median along the length of the subject portion of Route 1.  Alternately, large illuminated signboards should be randomly placed to remind drivers of pedestrian rights.

Lighting along length of subject highway segment should be brought up to code.  Of particular concern are at intersections and areas where pedestrians are forced to walk adjacent to the road.  At a minimum lighting should be added at intersections

Where 'guard rails' exist they should be between traffic lanes and the side path

Crosswalks should be painted at all 4 road crossing at an intersection.

Countdown pedestrian indicators (aka Alexandria).

Replace dirt paths immediately adjacent to travel lanes with paved sidewalks properly offset from the travel lanes or with a barrier between road and sidewalk. 

Replace dirt paths with sidewalks built to current safety specification.

 

SPECIFIC LOCATIONS OF CONCERN

Note (1) Unless otherwise stated, all location information relates to intersections with U.S. Route 1 
Note (2) Safecrossing' considers many of these recommendations to be interim.  Any study efforts should be applied to long-term solutions that will correct deficiencies in these interim recommendations.   

Specific concerns

Location - Woodland Terrace Area !!NEED STREET INFO!!
Problem -  Crosswalks in all directions with not traffic signals
Solution  - (1) Traffic Islands after turn lanes (see photo)

Location - Fairfax Annex in the center of Ft Belvoir
Problem - No safe bicycle or pedestrian transit  between SR 613|Backlick Rd and Route 235|Mt Vernon Highway.  (See Photo).  

Location - Route 1 bridge crossing at Dogue Creek (between Route 235 and Coopers Road)
Problem - Bridge has no shoulders; this forces Bike/Peds into traffic lane
Solution - (1) Widen bridge (2) Non-connected multi-use trail bridge on both sides of highway

Location - Sacramento Drive and Coopers Road  (Pear Tree SC)
Problem - Pedestrian crosswalk light in vicinity focuses on Cooper Road which comprises the off-set intersection with Sacramento.  Pedestrians attempting to cross at Sacramento to reach the MacDonald Restaurant cannot see the Cooper crossing light, are confused with the existing complicated traffic light cycle and thereby are clueless as to when they can cross safely.
cuts off  and strands people in the middle of 
Solution -
(1) Protected Refuge and crosswalks for side streets

Location - Lukens Lane  (Engleside SC)
Problem  - Traffic from Subject Road turning South on Route 1 cuts off  and strands people in the middle of Route1

Location - Sky View Drive
Problem - High accident count ?

Location - Radford Avenue
Problem - Traffic Light visible at Radford does not pertain to that street; it pertains to the intersection of Richmond Highway with Buckman Road (South) and the Potomac Square Shopping Center.  When traffic light for Richmond Highway turns red and thus visible at Radford, the light may still be green facing North (when no vehicles are exiting the Potomac Square Shopping Center).  Pedestrians at Radford and Mike's Restaurant who think it is safe to cross on red can thereby be badly misinformed (similarly as  drivers, unfamiliar with intersection, do not realize that the traffic light does not pertain to them as they face South awaiting to turn into Radford). 

Location - South County Government Center (SCGC) (8300 Richmond Highway)
Problem -  HAS BEEN SOLVED

Location - Janna Lee Avenue
Problem  - Unsafe Crossing of wide section of Route1

Location -  north of Janna Lee Avenue - west side of Route 1 (North of Taco Lucos)
Problem - Loss of Shoulder requires ped transit at edge of  traffic  lane

Location - SR 235|Mount Vernon Hwy entering Route 1
Problem (1) - Coming toward Route 1 Peds on North side are forced by guard-rail to walk dirt path immediately adjacent to travel lane.
Problem (2) - Existing Trail is segmented and shifts sides.  Ped's avoid dangerous multiple crossings of busy SR235 

Location - Ladson Lane (by Multiplex Theaters)
Problem - Turning traffic cuts off peds in crosswalk

Location - Lockheed Blvd    Need Problem and Solution definition from Dana Kaufman

Location - North Kings Highway
Problem - Access to the Bus Stop is difficult
Solution - (1) Relocate to ???

Location -  South Kings Highway 
Problem - difficult to cross
Solution - Add a Pedestrian signal 

Location - New Post Office mid-way between Lukens Lane and Frye Road 
Problem - Significant number of pedestrians will attempt to cross Richmond Highway to reach the new Post Office, in view of the existing rental apartments and projected residential units opposite the Post Office, on the east side of Richmond Highway.

Location - Frye Road     What caused the 18 March pedestrian death ? 
Problem - No crosswalk to bus stop for the high density housing north of Frye Road.

 

 

Looking at Route 1 in Fairfax County: A Regional Forum on Pedestrian Safety

Knights of Columbus Hall, 8592 Richmond Highway (Route 1)
Alexandria, Virginia (Fairfax County)
Tuesday, November 12, 2002 7:30- 9:00 p.m.

A Public Meeting was hosted by the Citizens Advisory Committee to The National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board and the Safe Crossings Campaign. It was moderated by Fairfax County Supervisor Dana Kauffman with Maryland State Delegate Bill Bronrott, Pedestrian Advocates John Wetmore and Bill Kelly, and Representatives from The Fairfax County and Virginia Departments of Transportation 

 

Minutes of a typical Safe Crossings Campaign Meeting  Feb 19, 02

Captain Barrett of the Mount Vernon District spoke at Safe Crossings meeting on 19 February 2002. He provided the following details:Within the last 30 days there have been 7 casualties in the Mount Vernon Rte 1 corridor (5 in automobiles and 2 pedestrians). Closure of Woodlawn and Beulah.

 


Fairfax County Police Capt Barrett
 speaking at a Safecrossing Meeting

Discussion of Virginia Senate Bill 397 

- Bill would have reallocated 25% of surface transportation funds to improvement of pedestrian access.
- The Bill failed in committee with a vote of 5 to 9.
- The Bill may be reintroduced in future session of Virginia Congress. Safe Crossings members may be asked to testify in Richmond and to rally support for the Bill.

Additional Potential Solutions for Pedestrian Issues:  

- No turn of Red when Pedestrians are Present signs at dangerous intersections.
- Traffic cameras for red light and speed enforcement.
- Re-timing lights to allow for spacing of cars between lights so that pedestrians can cross.
- Yield to Pedestrian signs at entrances to businesses.
- No U-Turn Signs at intersections with substantial pedestrian traffic (i.e. Latson (sp??) Lane.

 A Memorial Service was held for Mr. Warren Mackie. Mr. Mackie was struck and killed by a car while walking in the 9100 block of Richmond Highway. The Rising Hope Mission, a partner with the Safe Crossings Campaign, organized the Memorial Service.  On 7 Feb 2002, a man was struck and killed on the walking on the road by the bridge.  


 

 

Police Statistics for the Corridor 

Roads after September 11 have caused a significant increase in traffic on the Rte 1 corridor. The closures eliminated two of the four East/West connectors in the district. The number of accidents in the Fort Belvoir portion of Rte 1 has increased by 36% since the closures; accidents in the Mount Vernon district as a whole have increased by 13%. The response time for ambulances within the corridor has also increased.

Operation Safe Corridor (?)

- Begins 1 March 2002
- Runs for 45 days, 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
- Patrol Officers from all over the Mount Vernon District will be employed in ticketing aggressive driving, running of red lights and speeding. Ticketing will include pedestrian issues such as drivers making right turn on red while Pedestrians are in the crosswalk.
- Safe Crossing trying to get “Yield to Pedestrian” signs placed at dangerous intersections in conjunction with the enforcement operation.

Source: Metroped Advocate Pat Davis

 

 

Ticketing Pedestrians trying to cross Route 1 Apr 2005
 
Metroped Director's comments to fellow advocates

During the Safe Crossing Campaign (SC) we made a major effort to publicized the design improvement that we learned were needed to allow pedestrians to more safely cross Richmond Highway.  [There were many stories in local papers, the Wash Post and even Radio and TV coverage.]

A top SC recommendation was the need for medians or other mid-road safe refuge.  Major Shawn Barrett, an earlier Mt Vernon District Cmdr, spoke at one of our SC meetings.   He told us that at a posted speed of 45mph cars were not required to yield to pedestrians in those crosswalks without traffic lights.  He had also found that, counter to his expectations, most of the pedestrians deaths were happening on the 4 lane section of the highway rather then the wider 6 lane section.  He reasonable concluded pedestrians were using the concrete median [only exists at 6 lane sect] as a safe refuge for crossing.  This fit with what people who came to our meetings were telling us.  They described how, at intersections, often cars cut them off even though they were in a crosswalk.  They told us, where there was a concrete median,  they preferred to cross some distance away from an intersection to avoid the turning traffic.   MWCOG [Mike Farrell] provided a Fed Hywy Admn report [FHWA-RD-01-075] that further validated what the Police Cmdr and our members were saying.  Unless well designed, crosswalk are not necessarily the safest place to cross.  Since then we've also had the MWCOG supported 'Walkable Community Workshop' that further
supported the need for more pedestrian safety infrastructure.   Since the start of the SC campaign some years ago, little has changed.  Based on the FHWA-RD-01-075 recommendation, I doubt one could find even a dozen safe crosswalks in the 8 mile stretch of Richmond Highway between Ft Belvoir and the Beltway.   

I

 

Walkable Communities Workshops 2004   March 2004

As a result of Metroped/Safecrossings based testimony at Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) has included the subject segment of U.S. Route 1 as a candidate location for a 'Walkable Communities Workshops'.   The Fairfax County DOT Pedestrian Coordinator, Chris Wells, secured the funding, and applied for the Workshop. 

 

Small Motor Vehicles or 'Pocket Bikes' 

Gerry Hyland, Supervisor Fairfax County Virginia requested

1. Define SMV such that it is clear what vehicles are included;
2. Require drivers to be at least 12 years of age to operate SMV's off private property ;
3. Require that when operated on public rights-of-way by persons without a Virginia driver's license, they shall be operated only on streets with speed limits 25 mph or less;
4. Prohibit SMV's from public sidewalks;
5. SMV's to operate only during daylight hours unless equipped with proper lighting;
6. No passengers are to be carried on SMV's when operated on public streets;
7. When operating a SMV driver and passenger must wear appropriate safety helmets approved by DMV;
8. Require DMV to develop and issue appropriate guidance, including the need for permits or licenses, and develop safe operating instructions; 
9. Establish appropriate maximum noise levels for SMV's;
10. Waive the above requirements for SMV's designed for use by persons with disabilities.

Source: Mt Vernon Gazette FP 7/29/04

Note: Shared-use-paths [trails] are not addressed

 

The Safe crossing Campaign promoted bicyclist's and pedestrian be visibility.

Bicycle Visibility  -  Sidelights