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S. Arlington Observer
03-01-2016, 12:01 PM
I had a chance to attend the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting in February and I was totally blown away by the skill, persistence and knowledge of the volunteer members of the committee. To anyone who lives in or cycles through Arlington, these guys are doing a great job of advocating for us to county government.



The February meeting dealt largely with two topics: a) the coming closure of the Four Mile Run trail east of Mount Vernon Avenue and b) the placing of faux “stop signs” on the Bluemont and Lucky Run trails. Both issues affect me personally and I want to add my voice to the discussion about the stop sign matter.

11118



The signs (see picture of one on Lucky Run Trail) were apparently erected by the county parks department. The representative from the county parks department readily admitted that the stop signs have no legal justification. Arlington COULD adopt an ordinance requiring cyclists to stop at the marked intersections, but it has not done so.... meaning the signs do not have the force of law. That does not mean, however, that they are harmless.


I was particularly disturbed to hear how the signs on the Lucky Run Trail (along Walter Reed Drive between Arlington Mill Drive and Dinwiddie Street) came to be placed there. This is MY neighborhood and I use the trail both as a pedestrian and as a cyclist.
According to the parks representative, “the community” had requested the sign. In fact, however, I don’t think anybody attempted to offer the community around Lucky Run Park the chance to comment on the signs. They are placed where the trail crosses an entrance to a condo project. I am not sure if the road is private or publicly maintained, but it serves only that project and the only beneficiaries of the sign are drivers using that entrance. Apparently some of the motorists wanted a declaration of priority over cyclists.


It is a very limited view of “the community” to count only motorists wanting a statement of priority over people who live adjacent to and use the actual trail in question. So, from a process point of view, the erection of the signs was clearly flawed and related to placating a single special interest instead of seeking community input. The community includes park users, not just people motoring through an intersection.


The real problem with the signs (including those on the Bluemont Trail) is that they are misleading. A legal stop sign is not merely a pious suggestion. It is a declaration of rights and priorities. It defines legal responsibilities and liability in the event of an accident. By erecting an advisory sign that deliberately looks like a legal sign, the parks department is giving motorists the false sense that they bear no duty to be observant or to even yield to persons entering an intersection before them. In other words, motorists see the sign for what it appears to be – a declaration of legal responsibility (on cyclists), when in fact it has no such legal significance.


Shortly after the sign was placed at the intersection of the Bluemont Junction Trail and N. Emerson Street I slowed as usual to observe that the way was clear. It was. As I entered the intersection a vehicle came speeding down the road. I was able to stop in time, but the vehicle driver angrily pointed to the newly erected stop sign and shook her fist. The sign had “empowered” her.


If the parks department thinks the signs increase safety it is very wrong. They aren’t legally enforceable and yet appear to declare legal rights. They encourage motorists to be aggressive. They should be removed.

invisiblehand
03-01-2016, 01:26 PM
If the parks department thinks the signs increase safety it is very wrong. They aren’t legally enforceable and yet appear to declare legal rights. They encourage motorists to be aggressive. They should be removed.

Totally agree with this. There is no need for "fake" signs giving priority to street traffic.

Emm
03-01-2016, 01:37 PM
I agree with all of your points--this is really concerning and worth having community members send a note to the parks department to ask them to remove the signs. I detest unenforceable signs.

An additional concern is that people may be ticketed for not stopping at the "not enforceable" signs, since individual ACPD officers don't always know which signs are, and aren't enforceable. I'm sure you could get the ticket thrown out in court, but it could also impact the police report after an accident at the intersection. I have heard it can be really hard if not impossible to get the fault changed after accidents if the police report isn't correct.

scoot
03-01-2016, 01:55 PM
A private driveway should never have right-of-way over a public trail. The stop sign should definitely be removed. If a lot of drivers are not yielding here, it should be replaced with a "Yield to Trail Users" sign facing the driveway.

Lt. Dan
03-01-2016, 03:07 PM
It would be terrific is someone turned those signs 90 degrees so they faced drivers...

bobco85
03-01-2016, 03:23 PM
The stop signs should be taken down, but there is another issue going on here that is important to consider and is likely the problem behind the symptom: visibility.

The crossings on Lucky Run Trail (2 in total) and Bluemont Junction Trail (3 in total not including Wilson Blvd/GMDrive) are at best partially obscured by foliage/telephone poles/fences/parked cars/other objects or non-perpendicular angles. These make it harder for a driver to see a cyclist moving into the crosswalk and for a cyclist looking for drivers as they approach. The Lucky Run Trail crossings are made more difficult because there is another crosswalk about 15-20 feet away at the stoplight at Walter Reed Dr, so drivers passing the first crosswalk then have to watch for another one. I can see how drivers would want to put stop signs up to make everyone else wait, even though it would be easier to just *gasp* drive slower to improve the situation.

Putting up stop signs that have no force of law, confusing trail users (who has right of way?), and giving drivers the impression that they do not need to obey the VA law to yield to people in a crosswalk is not the way to go.

My solution? Remove the stop signs. Clear obstructions to provide better sightlines where possible. Add crosswalk signs for drivers. Add "Slow - Road Crossing" signs for trail-users.

DismalScientist
03-01-2016, 04:12 PM
Maybe they should post signs reflecting the law:

DO NOT ENTER CROSSWALK WITHOUT DUE REGARD FOR TRAFFIC.

dasgeh
03-01-2016, 04:32 PM
If someone wanted to do some research, and write something up, I bet the BAC would be amenable to a motion advising the County Manager to (1) take down these signs and (2) make sure the process of putting up traffic control signs in the future is clear, transparent, and takes into account the safety and best interests of the entire community.

Steve O
03-01-2016, 04:54 PM
Maybe they should post signs reflecting the law:

DO NOT ENTER CROSSWALK WITHOUT DUE REGARD FOR TRAFFIC.
And "CARS MUST YIELD TO PERSONS IN CROSSWALK"

Judd
03-01-2016, 06:27 PM
New law: everybody stop at intersections and awkwardly stare at each other until someone goes.

annoyedindc
03-02-2016, 07:43 AM
And "CARS MUST YIELD TO PERSONS IN CROSSWALK"

Did cyclists get updated to personhood status? I thought that was reserved for corporations.

The two laws do seem at odds with each other though.

Steve O
03-02-2016, 10:50 AM
I received an email from Arlington Parks today informing me that the stop signs have been removed from this location.

ShawnoftheDread
03-02-2016, 11:52 AM
Did you ask them to head on over to the Marriot?

baiskeli
03-04-2016, 09:18 AM
Did cyclists get updated to personhood status? I thought that was reserved for corporations.



Well, cyclists are people too. But to answer your question, the law states elsewhere that bicyclists have the rights and duties of pedestrians when using crosswalks, and they don't need to dismount either.

baiskeli
03-04-2016, 09:23 AM
I received an email from Arlington Parks today informing me that the stop signs have been removed from this location.

Bluemont too?

DismalScientist
03-04-2016, 09:31 AM
As someone who bikes and drives through the intersection of the Bluemont Trail and Kensington St, I must say it sucks for everybody. Bicycle traffic probably should slow down almost to a complete stop given the atrocious sightlines regardless of whether there is a stop sign.

dasgeh
03-04-2016, 09:51 AM
As someone who bikes and drives through the intersection of the Bluemont Trail and Kensington St, I must say it sucks for everybody. Bicycle traffic probably should slow down almost to a complete stop given the atrocious sightlines regardless of whether there is a stop sign.

Sounds like a caution sign, similar to what we got on the Custis at Quinn, would be a good candidate for the bike trail. Also sounds like a prime candidate for a raised crosswalk.

Steve O
03-04-2016, 09:52 AM
As someone who bikes and drives through the intersection of the Bluemont Trail and Kensington St, I must say it sucks for everybody. Bicycle traffic probably should slow down almost to a complete stop given the atrocious sightlines regardless of whether there is a stop sign.

Once upon a time at a BAC meeting the AC staff suggested they might look at the three street crossings on the Bluemont Junction trail between the W&OD and Wilson and consider adjusting strategies based on the significant differences in traffic and design. I haven't heard anything lately, so I'm not sure if this idea has died out.

bobco85
03-04-2016, 11:31 AM
Sounds like a caution sign, similar to what we got on the Custis at Quinn, would be a good candidate for the bike trail. Also sounds like a prime candidate for a raised crosswalk.
I think a caution sign would be a good idea or even writing "SLOW" on the asphalt approaching the intersection.

Also, Bluemont Junction Trail/Kensington St already has a raised crosswalk. The crosswalk is not flat, however, and entering the crossing involves going down a bit to the gutter then up and over the high point in the middle and going down to the gutter on the other side before going up to the elevation of the trail. The edges of the crossing used to be worse, leaving cyclists to "bounce" on both entry and exit, but it is a little smoother now. You can see it on Google Maps street view: https://goo.gl/maps/3qfyVYQKc5x

baiskeli
03-07-2016, 09:06 AM
The signs are still up at Bluemont Junction and Emerson.

consularrider
03-07-2016, 10:22 AM
Once upon a time at a BAC meeting the AC staff suggested they might look at the three street crossings on the Bluemont Junction trail between the W&OD and Wilson and consider adjusting strategies based on the significant differences in traffic and design. I haven't heard anything lately, so I'm not sure if this idea has died out.

I'm still trying to figure where the third street crossing is on the Bluemont Trail between the W&OD and Wilson (Kensington and Emerson are the two I can picture). And then there is Buchanan between Wilson and Fairfax.

dasgeh
03-07-2016, 01:06 PM
I'm still trying to figure where the third street crossing is on the Bluemont Trail between the W&OD and Wilson (Kensington and Emerson are the two I can picture). And then there is Buchanan between Wilson and Fairfax.

I think he meant W&OD and FFX. Being a east-Arlander, I usually think of Wilson as north of Fairfax too.

To the original point, I remember the conversation at the BAC meeting well - it started the conversation that led to the Commonwealth's Attorney coming to the BAC, and then the ACPD Training doc.

So now that we've established that pedestrians don't have a general responsibility to stop at crosswalks, we should certainly revisit the Bluemont stop signs.

AlexandriaBiker
03-01-2017, 12:26 PM
This is from a year ago ...

Is there any change to the stop signs on trails issue? I was at the meeting where this was initially discussed but never saw the definitive conclusion from ACPD or Commonwealth Attorney. Do the signs have any legal standing in Arlington? Can anyone address if stop signs on trails have legal standing statewide? Nationwide?

This has come up in discussions over the last year and I'm just interested in having correct information. Thanks.

Brett L.
03-01-2017, 02:39 PM
New law: everybody stop at intersections and awkwardly stare at each other until someone goes.

Are we in Canada now?

Zack
03-02-2017, 12:44 PM
This is from a year ago ...

Is there any change to the stop signs on trails issue? I was at the meeting where this was initially discussed but never saw the definitive conclusion from ACPD or Commonwealth Attorney. Do the signs have any legal standing in Arlington? Can anyone address if stop signs on trails have legal standing statewide? Nationwide?

This has come up in discussions over the last year and I'm just interested in having correct information. Thanks.

The answer is no unless Arlington or another local governing body passed an ordinance expressly requiring a complete stop on trails.

http://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title46.2/chapter8/section46.2-924

D. Where a shared-use path crosses a highway at a clearly marked crosswalk and there are no traffic control signals at such crossing, the local governing body may by ordinance require pedestrians, cyclists, and any other users of such shared-used path to come to a complete stop prior to entering such crosswalk. Such local ordinance may provide for a fine not to exceed $100 for violations. Any locality adopting such an ordinance shall install and maintain stop signs, consistent with standards adopted by the Commonwealth Transportation Board and to the extent necessary in coordination with the Department of Transportation. At such crosswalks, no user of such shared-use path shall enter the crosswalk in disregard of approaching traffic.