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Traffic law is based on right of way and yielding. I agree with the police that a bike coming downhill has a good clear view of the intersection and should be able to avoid a car turning.*

The problem is we has this system of citations and checkboxes when you write a ticket. The actual ticket (failure to stop) makes no sense. I'd say a better ticket would be failure to control your vehicle or something like that. Clearly a snap judgment by a cop when there isn't a serious injury or fatality.


Jay Fissette looking in on his special friends -- not so cool.

* stupid question, but doesn't this light have a traffic camera? would you have video of the accident in question?

The video ("this intersection" link above) confirms (for me) my theory about the circumstances of the recent collision, and the major point of concern (for me) about this intersection: there are a couple of instances (two bikes, three cars) of cars making the right turn in front of an eastbound bike already in the intersection and therefore violating the cyclist's right of way.

At 16-19s, the car starts when the cyclist is about halfway through the intersection; at 28s, the cyclist slows and waves the car through, possibly as a courtesy to get the turn in before the end of the light cycle (lynn st traffic moves immediately after).

If the crash in question was a similar situation, then the cyclist may have been - briefly - in the best position to avoid the crash, but only once his right of way had already been violated.

from the updated patch article:

Arlington County Board Member Jay Fisette, a cyclist himself, talked afterward about common ground, but it was clear he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the answers that were being given.

“At some point, we have to realize there has to be some clear indication of right of way,” he said.

“The law does not speak to speed. I totally appreciate and agree that there’s a common-sense element to crossing an intersection. But my understanding is once you step off the curb, you have the right of way.”

Jay Fissette is wrong here. Again, you've got to go back to the idea of yielding and then to right of way. There isn't some magic that happens when you step into a sidewalk. You've got to pay attention.

The patch article also clarifies that the ticket in question was a warning ticket. I doubt you can contest that.

I think that the "magic that happens when you step into a crosswalk" would be best described as "the letter and intent of the law."

@davidR; if you think a copy of the Virginia statutes will protect you from a car, please, go ahead. Sounds like a ghost dance to me.

The law is backwards looking. It is trying to assign responsibility and blame.

In terms of being forward looking, I'd try to find a way that cyclists going up the Custis trail can see traffic on the exit ramp before they get to the crossing. Downhill, it isn't so much of an issue.

Let's remember that you're legally not supposed to enter a crosswalk against a red (the don't walk hand) even if it's blinking and counting down. Red means don't walk. You can only enter on a green. I'd say 90% of cyclists (and many pedestrians, there or anywhere) start crossing after the green has turned to red.

@dayglo - see this link - http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/knowledge/faqs/faq_part4.htm#q45

While Virginia hasn't (to my knowledge) changed their laws to allow for this behavior, entering the crosswalk while the countdown is ongoing is not necessarily unsafe as studies have shown.

@Charlie

No, of course I don't think that the law itself provides safety. It's a stupid suggestion and you know it. Stop playing coy.

Police actions should start with the law, not with notions of "common sense." That's what Fissette is saying, too.

Mind you, I think that heaving around a good-sized book would help dissuade any drivers from coming too close, just as War and Peace once saved Max Smart.

Right, the implication here seems to be, cyclists can get hurt so they should be even MORE careful than drivers. Which is probably true, but it doesn't end there.
If what they see is repeated violation of ROW by drivers they should start ticketing them. This whole - "pulling them over is more dangerous than letting them break the law" thing is total hokum. Just because the risk is 100% on the cyclist, doesn't mean the responsibility is.

Thanks, Dave, very interesting info.

I didn't say it was unsafe to cross against the don't walk sign, only that it was illegal (though alot of people don't seem to get that).

At that particular intersection, though it may be unsafe too, especially coming from the east.

P.S. While riding yesterday I paid closer attention to the countdown walk signals. Some actually start the countdown while still green. It's no wonder they don't quite work as intended.

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