Thursday, July 19, 2007

One Last Post Before I Go...(Whipple on Pedestrians)

Or not. Rumors are brewing, and I'll be looking into them before next Tuesday when I leave until August. Then I'll be double checking while away.

Notice the new link to the Buckingham Neighborhood Conservation Plan in the right hand column (thanks to Bernie Berne for getting me the link).
In the meantime, enjoy this...

Sure, Virginia State Senator Mary Margaret Whipple talked about what happened during the legislative session, and answered questions about everything from fish in the Shenandoah river to immigration, to the Dominion Virginia Power Company (1, 2, 3, 4), but the room of 30-odd people at the Hyde Park condominium last night got a little heated when the topic turned to pedestrian safety in this area.

Mary Margaret Whipple

Ms. Whipple said she has been the patron of a bill which states “the driver would be required to stop if a pedestrian is in the crosswalk” which she is hoping will replace the current law that uses “yield” instead of “stop.”

She said, “The police say it’s extremely difficult to enforce the law as it is written.” This concern gets regular attention with media and politicos.

Even though the legislation makes it through the Senate, “It will not get out of the House Transportation Committee.” She held out some hope, as the chair of that committee is not seeking re-election.

A man—who bikes, walks and drives in Arlington—warned against being too draconian with the laws as they may have unintended consequences. He said that mid-block crosswalks will cause more rear-end accidents as drivers do not anticipate stopping there. He added that the signs at traffic lights that say “No right turn on red when a pedestrian is present” is unclear as it does not say the pedestrian has to be in the crosswalk, merely present, perhaps standing at the corner, unmoving. Drivers have to wait without taking the right turn, even though the pedestrian also might never move, he said.

The room was less sympathetic to his plight. People told him to wait for the green light to make the right hand turn. Ms. Whipple agreed that the signs are a little vague, but she said traffic lights in Arlington only run about 90 seconds at most, so “it’s not going to hold anybody up too much.”

Arlingtonians still don't get the crosswalk issue. So many cars breeze through even though a pedestrain is crossing. The scariest crosswalk for me is the one on Wilson in Ballston. The trees and bushes are so thick it's very difficult to see anyone. Flashing yellow lights that will turn red when pushed by a pedestrian seem the safest for all busy crosswalks.
90 seconds is indeed not too long to wait. I completely agree. It should apply to everyone; drivers and pedestrians both.

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