Crosswalks on the GW Parkway?
So this morning around 10AM, I was driving north on the GW Parkway, just south of the Memorial Bridge. I noticed a bicyclist stopped at a crosswalk waiting to cross. The crosswalk was clearly marked with zebra stripes and a big yellow crosswalk sign. I've biked along the Mount Vernon Trail plenty enough times to know that waiting for a gap in traffic there can be a pain. So, I slowed down, waved to the biker, and let him pass. Almost immediately, I'm pulled over by the US Park Police trailing behind me. The biker turned back around, and tried to convince the police officer that I was trying to do the right thing, to no avail. The police officer (not sure I got the name right, but I think it was something like Sgt J. M. Jacobine, badge number 935), proceeded to lecture me on how I was creating a hazard by illegally stopping on a highway, and that I had the right of way, and a legal obligation to NOT stop at the crosswalk. He issued me a formal warning, lectured me some more, and sent me on my way.
I was under the impression that I am legally obligated to stop for pedestrians at clearly marked crosswalks, including bicyclists that are stopped waiting to cross. A quick Google search shows Virginia code 46.2-924, which seems to support me there, although obviously I didn't have the opportunity to hop on Google while I was stopped by the police officer. Does anyone know what the deal is here?
Also, does anyone know whether this a part of a broader campaign by this police officer, or perhaps even the Park Police as a whole, to get people to ignore crosswalks along the GW Parkway? I noticed that the officer got on his car's loudspeaker, and shouted "DO NOT STOP" at nearby motorists stopping at the same crosswalk at least once while he had me stopped.
If anyone has any suggestion for escalating this in a way that gets things fixed, I'd appreciate it. Also, from a purely selfish perspective, I'd rather not have a formal warning hanging around on my driving record.
I never got the bicyclist's contact information, but if you're out there lurking on the forum, I'd like to shake your hand and buy you a beer. Challenging the Park Police during a traffic stop showed some serious guts. Thank you!
You are not obligated to stop for pedestrians that are waiting to cross.
See this very recent thread for many opinions. Don't sweat the warning. Its meaningless.
ETA: That part of the GW is in DC
Last edited by StopMeansStop; 08-02-2011 at 10:55 PM.
Welcome to the forum and thank you for stopping at the crosswalk. It's a norm that the police officers don't know much about the pedestrian and bicyclists laws. You're right on this.
Since the Park Police is under the federal jurisdiction, we have to write to some congressmen to get the result. Personally, I don't have a positive impression about the park police. I haven't seen any of them on a bicycle before.
I love to buy you a beer too.
No formal record of a warning, just FYI.
Originally Posted by david.m.wilburn
David, the cyclist may be identified in a post over on Greater Greater Washington who picked up on this yesterday, I'm guessing it's the same incident (do you drive a red BMW?) link.
Also, thanks for stopping at that crosswalk. I have always been taught that drivers stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, too. I'd like to buy you both a beer.
Dave! Call me!
Dave, if you were in the red car, I'm your cyclist. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org and my phone number is 703-842-1719. I am a journalist and thinking of writing a story about that intersection, and whether or not you'd want to talk to me for that, I'd still like to say thanks in person. I'm really glad you didn't get a ticket.
That GGW comment thread is getting UGLY! Any lawers on these boards that can comment on what should happen at that crossing?
Isn't it a corollary to Godwin's Law that, as time goes to infinity, civility in online comment thread discussions goes to zero? And the speed at which it heads there is proportional to how inconvenienced one side is by the opposition?
Originally Posted by americancyclo