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OK, bizzare. That looks like VSP, not park police.

Same problem as before -- car comes a halt, then gets rear-ended.

This crossing is just one of five at-grade crossings near the Memorial Bridge. None of them are well-designed.

Hey, this is what happens when you design a road for and then permit highway/interstate speeds but then mix in some at-grade crossings!

The GW Parkway is terrifying - I'm surprised more people don't get killed.

Charlie, it's not Park Police. On the 4th they had all kinds of Law Enforcement available.

What are the best options for the crossings? Some commenters on ARLnow were suggesting that cars should just never stop for cyclists/feeters but there are times of day when, as someone else said, we could wait for world peace to get across. I don't think lights would fly, but I also don't like the idea.

I'd like to see the trails pass through in underpasses. But failing that, yes, I'd like to see some traffic lights.

OK, but if that is the crossing in question it is technically in DC (Columbia Island)

Which is why it is weird it would be VSP.

I've always suspected park police don't like to enforce the laws on columbia island for that minor technicality. Pure anecdote. Need to ask a traffic lawyer in Alexandria.

Some commenters on ARLnow were suggesting that cars should just never stop for cyclists/feeters

You mean some do now? Yes - this accident was such an example. But is also shows that the Darwinian process is actively removing them from the gene pool. All will be well in the future.

All of these crossings on the Parkway are nuts. Specifically, cars completely disregard the speed limit coming on or heading to the Memorial Bridge. The Park Service knows this, and despite several accidents, still refuses to install any additional signage. I don't get it.

Good point charlie. That officer was out of his jurisdiction.

THe problem with that crossing is it works 85% of the time.

You wait for a break in the cars, and it usually doesn't take very long. It is only one lane.

I think you could design a traffic light there. Most of the time it is blinking yellow. During peak times, it changes to a red and allows pedestrians/bikers to cross. Put in induction loops way up on the road to measure the flow of traffic.

I would have loved to get a ticket from that officer and contest it. That would be fun.

Hey, this is what happens when you design a road for and then permit highway/interstate speeds but then mix in some at-grade crossings!

Right, but those interstate speed (usually 15-20 mph over the posted speed) are completely safe. Just so long as there are no pedestrians anywhere. What are pedestrians doing walking around outside of motor vehicles, anyway?

If they want to engage in suicidal behavior, I'm not sure society should be trying to stop them.

To paraphrase Nietzsche (here we go), there is too little kindness and courtesy in this world to waste it on inadvertantly dangerous acts.

Okay, that was pretty bad.

I don't think motorists should stop for precisely this reason, but it's especially dangerous when the road involved is two lanes (same direction) and one car stops. Invariably, any cars behind that car blow past or just change lanes and go around the stopped car at speed, endangering the cyclist or pedestrian who chooses to cross. In such situations, I always wave them on and thank them, unless theirs is the only car within clear sight.

Stopping is a beautiful gesture of respect and humanity, but it's just too damn dangerous the way some motorists don't pay attention and are always in a hurry.

"THe problem with that crossing is it works 85% of the time."

So, 15% of the time someone gets killed. OK, so the odds are like surviving the trenches of WWI.

I make that crossing with some frequency. You can see traffic coming a minimum of a qtr mile away and its all one direction and trail users have stop signs in both directions.

Really now...how hard is it to cross the GW Pkway there and not get hit or cause an accident?

nookie, if you roll up on your bike and stop, and the first car that sees you slows to a stop at the crosswalk to wave you on, well, there's your accident waiting to happen. The problem is, the well-meaning motorist either doesn't check or doesn't have time/space to check to see whether someone is on his/her ass before slowing dramatically or stopping suddenly.

Now, you may be perfectly content to wait for a break in traffic, but the well-meaning motorist is, well, well-meaning and can't read your mind, so (s)he slows/stops, and the moron (perhaps distracted) following too closely behind continues at speed. Wham-o! I see close calls in this situation fairly often at a crosswalk near the Jefferson Memorial. Anytime a motorist slows, I sort of cringe (while waving them on), hoping the person behind is paying attention.

replacing those fences with some sort of brick wall -- which might provide some protection to waiting pedestrians -- might be an option.

And there are limits to signs and how much they can do. I don't know if we've reached that limit there, but the problem for drivers is you're distracted with the merge, turn the bend, and bam, stopped car. If you've driven it before you know what to expect, but that DC for you...

nookie, there have been two crashes that I know just like the one Blue-eyed Devil described in the last few months. And I know I almost had something like it happen to me once.

It isn't hard to avoid causing a crash there. But with ~2,000,000 crossings a year (guess) it doesn't need to be very difficult for there to be 1 or 2 crashes per year.

I'd say it's hard enough that improvement is needed.

The damage to the car would indicate the car was at a complete stop and the trcuk impacted well in excess of 30 mph. The impacting vehicle had to have been driving in a reckless manner.

There's no reason to shift blame from that driver.

I think there's a solution that's easier (and less visually intrusive) than a traffic light. That stretch of road narrows from two lanes to one immediately after the crosswalk. That lane reduction should occur BEFORE the crosswalk. To make it more effective, the lane reduction needs to be more than just paint - the paved surface of the roadway must shrink to 12'-14' before the crosswalk so that no car can pass another that has stopped for someone in the crosswalk. Before the crosswalk, some horribly annoying rumble strips or even a gradual table-top (extended speed bump) can be used to force drivers to slow down to a speed that would allow them to stop for crosswalk users with plenty of lead time.

@Washcycle,

Well if you are right and it is ~2,000,000 crossings a year and 1 or 2 people are hit, then it really isn't a problem is it?

Statistically you have a greater chance of getting hit by lightning (1/1,000,000 chance)

Cars shouldn't be stopping. If they do, its up to you to guage the danger in crossing but considering the long, flat, straight sight lines I really don't think its worth making a mountain out of a mole hill out of an activity Washcycle himself admits carries the same risk as getting struck by lighting.

The Washington Blvd. crossings are dangerous too. There is no good solution in that area without building bike/pedestrian bridges or tunnels. Unfortunately, I doubt NPS will build either of those anytime soon.

The Washington Blvd. crossing is very close to the off-ramp. It's not easy to tell if an oncoming car is staying on the main lane or turning off and heading toward the crossing. In busy hours, there aren't many breaks in traffic so cyclists and pedestrians have to guess at whether a car is turning or not.

I don't know if a rumble strip or light would help because drivers may not have enough time to see such a light at that point. It's a frustrating situation.

A crosswalk a couple hundred feet north of Memorial Bridge could be a better location. The sight lines for car drivers would be better. Cyclists and pedestrians would also have a better view of oncoming cars. Still not ideal, but maybe a little better than the current trail crossings.

For starters, the odds of being struck by lightening in your lifetime are actually 1 in 5000. And being struck by lightening is a real problem. A bike advocate, Carl Henn, was killed in a lightening strike just last year. It's the reason we teach people how to avoid getting struck by lightening. So your point is kind of lost.

Getting struck by lightening happens, it's a serious problem and we, as a society, invest resources in protecting people from it. It's more than a mole hill.

Same as this.

The other crash this year that I know, involved a runner who didn't cross when the car stopped, but was hit anyway as the hit car careened off the road.

So in conclusion, you are 200 times more likely to get struck by lighting, than struck by a car at this intersection.

Yep...call out the national guard, lets get the Army Corp of engineers out here because this intersection is clearly a slaughter house of epic proportions when 1 or 2 people out of ~2 million are in an accident.

All of your points are lost when you inflate non-existant problems into a regional crisis.

I have never worried about getting struck by lighting, because I have a modicum of common sense and don't go standing on top of homes with metal poles in lighting storms, just like a little common sense will allow someone to avoid death when they can see people coming a quarter mile away on a flat one way road.


Statistics or not, having been caught once on the Taft Bridge as lightning crashed around me, I'm not ashamed to say I screamed like a little girl.

So in conclusion, you are 200 times more likely to get struck by lighting, than struck by a car at this intersection.

That's only a conclusion if it isn't utterly meaningless. If every time someone drank a glass of water they had a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of dropping dead, would that be acceptable? I don't think so.

It need not be "slaughter house of epic proportions" to require a redesign. There is a middle ground between slaughterhouse and daisy-filled prairie.

The is a real problem, but I did not inflate it to a regional crisis. Nice strawman there. So I guess my points are not lost then.

The problem with your common sense claim is that there is collateral damage. In each crash, someone who did nothing wrong got hurt. And in each crash more than one person got hurt. So while there are only a few crashes here, they injure a lot of people.

The FRA has a rule that if a safety improvement will save at least 1 life over 25 years for every $10,000,000 spent then railroads have to implement it. So, yes, changes are made - even required - for unlikely events.

Sharp chicanes that force cars to drive 25 mph approaching a pedestrian right-of-way crossing.

And re: Virginia Trooper on duty at GW Parkway July 4. For any big event (Inauguration, IMF protest, etc.) DC invites other forces from other jurisdictions to help. They deputize them en masse before they go on duty in DC so they have no problems enforcing DC law in a non-DC uniform.

At some point I hope the NPS remembers that P is for Park.

* GW Parkway - no cycling allowed on the road at all. Yes we do it, but it's not legal.
* Rock Creek Park during the week - 25 mph, but in reality a highway to North DC and MD.
* They are being very hard on the pedicab business on the mall.

NPS might as well turn GW Parkway over to VDOT. They can call it I-595.

Most drivers fail to yield at cross walks. A little enforcement would go a long way.

I quit using the Memorial Bridge some time ago because this is such a PITA. I use the 14th St and Key bridges instead. Wish they'd put in some non-graded crossings for this, on both the north and south sides.

Blue-eyed Devil, um a driver stopping to let the cyclist cross isnt "being nice"....its the law.

And the person doing the rear ending is always at fault. Someone could stop because of debris on the road, traffic, a deer etc etc etc


What the crossing needs is yield triangles painted at the appropriate distance.

I don't understand why people are saying cars shouldn't stop. They are required to by law. I understand why many don't (and, honestly, it annoys me), but I think it's silly to say drivers should ignore the law and be discourteous to cyclists.

I drive through here several times a week when I don't bike commute...clocked traffic at 55 mph this morning through this section. Being a cyclist who uses this crossing regularly, I'm well aware of how much of a pain it is, but I as a driver I have to say that I prefer to make a crosser wait than get rear-ended by someone doing 55. You can talk all day about terrible drivers or lack of enforcement, but the bottom line is that it's just as much, if not more, dangerous for cars that try to stop as it is for people on the path. I think an easy solution is a ped-triggered light like the one on the W&OD at Gallows road, but people probably will still complain about having to wait too longer or whatever. Rumble strips and the squiggly yellow lines are the cheapest option, but still relatively ineffective in my experience.

What I'm shocked about* is the 1:5,000 chance of getting struck by lightning in a person's lifetime.

That seemed improbably high to me, but an NWS factsheet puts the chance at 1:10,000.

* Not intended.

Regarding police jurisdiction...while this crossing is technically in DC, I believe there's an agreement or MOA (Memorandum of Understanding) by which it gets patrolled by Virginia (if not by NPS themselves).

It should be noted that the basics of the roadway configuration in this area have not changed since the 1940s.

A couple years ago, I drew up a potential solution to both the traffic issues and the crossing issues, greatly simplifying the area. Though I highly doubt NPS would even bother looking at it, I should probably post it sometime.

What @Scott said.

And as far as the "crossing the GW Parkway is less dangerous than the odds of getting struck by lighting" stupidity: people don't get struck by lightning because of negligence and selfish asshole behavior on the part of a segment of society. People choose to drive significantly faster than the posted speed limit. They choose to ignore crosswalks. NPS encourages this kind of anti-social behavior by inflating the speed limit, and refusing to do any enforcement.

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