Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Letter: More Than Crosswalks, Give Bham Flashing Lights

I agree that crosswalks are not the whole answer [See the comments posted at the bottom of Steve's Editorial of last week. --ST], but what we have is a disaster waiting to happen.

I have had plenty of terrifying times in Buckingham, all of them in the intersections along Thomas, the nightmare at Glebe and Pershing, and especially trying to walk across George Mason Drive on the north side of route 50. We walk up Thomas all the time from our home in Arlington Oaks up to the mall, Harris Teeter, or to our church--First Presbyterian. It is not fun having three heart attacks while walking to church or to go grocery shopping.

These intersections are in the middle of multi-family housing with tons of pedestrian traffic. I have complained and written letters to the county board at least 3 times--nothing is ever done. I guess if we had single family homes we would have nice crosswalks.

I was pregnant with my first child who is turning seven this summer when I first started giving input to the county on pedestrian issues in Buckingham, and that was just adding my voice to others who had been complaining before me.
With the construction in Bham Village and the large pedestrian population, it is just a matter of time before someone gets killed.

For example, one day our kids were getting off the bus at 2nd Rd and Thomas and one of the neighborhood kids needed to get to his grandmother's house on the other side of Pershing because his parents weren't home yet. There is NO WAY an elementary school aged kid, even a 10 year old, can get across Pershing by himself. So I went with him just as I saw his grandmother coming to get him on the other side.

In other words, kids are cut off from their family as well as from their friends all because they can't get across Pershing safely along Thomas.

So, in addition to the crosswalks noted by Steve, I would prefer a flashing yellow light that pedestrians can turn red by pushing a button---like on Washington Blvd by the housing complex near route 50. We should have these at Pershing, Henderson, and Carlin Springs.

I say SO WHAT if commuters cutting through our neighborhood get annoyed by pedestrians. They should drive around our neighborhood, not through it anyway. I am tired of the county telling us that we are an “arterial” and can’t have decent crosswalks.

These “arterials” of Henderson and Pershing are only two lanes. Does the county not realize that folks who live in Buckingham see what other neighborhoods have and that we don't have the same thing? Look at Ashton Heights! Look at Westover! If Westover and Ashton Heights can have whole stoplights on Washington Blvd. and Pershing Dr. respectively and at intersections with FEWER cars and pedestrians than we have, then we can have it, too.

If Falls Church can put up stoplights, crosswalks, and a 25mph sign on ROUTE 7, then we can have the same on Henderson and Pershing for TWO BLOCKS through a much more densely populated area than the mansions on Route 7 between 7 Corners and Washington Blvd.

As long as I am on the subject of arterials, why is it that when you are traveling south on Quincy/Henderson that there is a sign pointing folks to route 50 at Henderson and George Mason and not at Quincy and Glebe? Drivers coming from Quincy should turn left onto Glebe to go to Route 50 and not travel through our densely populated neighborhood and then turn left on George Mason through our neighborhood to get to route 50.

Arlington Forest has done a good job of trying to cut down cut-through traffic, and if we moved this one little sign from George Mason to Glebe, and put in the cross walks and flashing yellow lights, then maybe folks would take the hint and travel down Glebe instead of cutting through.

PLUS we need to rezone parking for all of Buckingham to get rid of commuters who park in the neighborhood and walk to the mall and the metro and block the view of the intersection and clutter the neighborhood with cars.

It is easy to see on Sunday mornings walking to church that there are NO CARS when then rest of the week the streets are full of them. No one should get to park in Bham unless they live here or are a guest of someone who does.

So in addition to what Steve said in his article we need:
1. Pedestrian-controlled yellow flashing lights that turn to red along Thomas at Pershing, Henderson, and Carlin Springs.
2. Move the “to route 50” sign from Henderson and George Mason to Quincy and Glebe.
3. Re-zone parking so commuters can’t park here.

Cathy Thurston

The writer is the wife of Steve Thurston, this blog's editor. She wrote the letter at her desk, not seven feet from mine, and then emailed it to me. Eh, works for us. --ST


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