Open letter to Arlington, Fairfax an DC challenging them to improve pedestrian saftey

From: Ian Macdonald
Sent to:
jackevans@dccouncil.us
carol.schwartz@dc.gov
pmendelson@dccouncil.us
tellkwamebrown@gmail.com
CountyBoard@arlingtonva.us
chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov
dranesville@fairfaxcounty.gov

I live in Herndon and work in Washington D.C. close to the White House. I was saddened to hear about the accident in Dupont Circle that lead to the death of a cyclist today. I bike from West Falls Church to 1818 H Street daily and I walk in the city on a regular basis.

We need to do something NOW to make the streets safer for pedestrians. The poor girl was killed today because of the mixed signals that are given out to pedestrians and motorists at the same time. The washington post is reporting that she was cycling along the side walk parallel to the trash truck that killed her. Both were given a proceed signal, a green light for a truck and walk signal for the pedestrians. Both proceeded to complete their journeys, resulting in a tragic end.

We need to separate the pedestrian walk signal from the traffic green light. When pedestrians get a walk signal all traffic that crosses that walk signal should be halted to allow the pedestrians to cross the street safely.

As a driver, when I see red light I stop, then look, to see if it is safe to do a turn on red. When I get a green I have been programmed to go. The same thing is true for pedestrians when you see stop you don’t cross when you see walk you walk. It is counter intuitive for a driver or pedestrian to see a green light or walk sign then have to proceed with caution because a pedestrian or car might be crossing into your path.

Every day I see drivers sitting waiting a green light while pedestrians are crossing, stressing out both the drivers trying to make their turn before the light turns red and pedestrians scared that they are going to be run over by aggressive drivers.

This is as relevant to Washington D.C. as it is in Arlington and Fairfax county.

We need to separate the pedestrian crossing signal from green lights NOW. The walk sign should only be lit when all traffic has been signaled to stop, allowing safe traversal of the crossing. This will make it much safer for pedestrians and will help prevent tragic accidents like todays from happening in the future.

If you haven’t seen the washington post article it can be seen at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/08/AR2008070800975.html

video coverage is at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/video/2008/07/08/VI2008070801640.html?sid=ST2008070801161

previous washington post article on pedestrian safety in dc at

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/18/AR2008051802517.html

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