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Support for Route 1 Safety Recommendations 



The Fairfax County Police Department Representative at the meeting urged members to also include replacing the heavily used dirt paths along the highway with properly designed sidewalks. This problem is described elsewhere in this web site but the officer described his first hand experience with the unsettling details of a 14 year old pedestrian. He was recently struck by the mirror of a truck as he walked along one of the paths adjacent the travel lane of the highway. 

Where sidewalks exits rutted surface can be a problem.


Members described two crosswalk problems that are common to all pedestrians but non-the-less make it difficult for them to cross Route 1.   When using a crosswalk that is on the right side of an intersection, drivers in the intersection that are turning right cut them off.  This happens even though the pedestrian indicator signals them to walk.   One possible solution discussed was to have the walk light lead the green light (LPI).  It was thought that to be effective these intersections should also have 'no turn on red' signs.   Where possible crosswalks should be offset a short distance from the intersection.   This would increase the chance of a right turning driver seeing a pedestrian. 

Someone described a similar problem they felt would be worsen by a LPI.  They use the crosswalk that is painted on the left side of Coopers Road.   When west-bound, and if there is a line of left turning cars on Cooper,  when these walkers get to the middle of the road they are cut-off by drivers heading south bound.   They make a point of not getting to the center of the road while there was still traffic pulling out of Cooper.    They feared a leading pedestrian indicator would keep them exposed in the middle for a longer period.   As discussed often in earlier meetings, one solution would be a protected island, preferable with bollards.  An additional solution is the installation of crosswalks on both the north and south sides of the intersection.  This allows the pedestrian to choose the safest side to cross.

The intersection in this picture has no traffic or pedestrian control device, but it is an example of a crosswalk mildly offset from the intersecting road on the opposite side.

 Interim freestanding cones are used in place of concrete filled bollards

In this day of distracted, cell-phone chatting drivers, thoughtful pedestrians find the area half-way between too intersections is the safest place to cross.  Off-the-record, many highway engineers encourage this form of 'jay-walking'.  An additional protected island mid-way between two intersections increases safety and legitimizes this form of 'safe crossings'.   


Median Fencing

Median fences are useful, particularly in school areas where students fearlessly dash across many lanes of heavy traffic.   This fences should not be used in areas where thoughtful pedestrians have found a safer place to cross then at a dangerous intersection.  Where fencing is installed there should be breaks in the barrier with formal crosswalks facilities away from the intersection.  Without formal breaks, unofficial pedestrian breaches will begin to appear in a few years after installation.   Barberry type vegatation provides self-healing deterent.



The need to provide pedestrian safety education to children and young adults was discussed and recommended.   Dave Lyons identified possible DMV Grant money.

Adult Pedestrian education was considered a less effective use of  funding.  The member who often crossed at Coopers Road made an interesting point that had other members nodding.  She said with her years of experience crossing Route 1 she's often found the safest place to cross is away  from the intersection.  There are many experts that support this view.  A recent Rockville MD article in the Washington Post had a MDOT Traffic Engineer saying the same thing 'off the record'. 


Pedestrian Cautions Signs 

If was felt the most effective way to educate drivers would be with tall bright signs at the dangerous intersections.

Drivers education was consider the least effective use of possible Grant funding.  A high percentage of  Route 1 traffic is not local.  Education would have to be Metro Area or State  wide.   It was also felt that the drivers most likely to hit a pedestrian were the least likely to respond to formal education.