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Thread: Close call at dangerous intersection in S Arlington

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    Default Close call at dangerous intersection in S Arlington

    I'm sure this intersection has been the subject of previous threads, but this close call happened to me earlier this week.

    I was bicycling toward Pentagon City on the wide sidewalk on the north side of Columbia Pike (this is being called/treated like a bike/ped path) just before where Washington Blvd crosses the pike. It was around 7 AM on a weekday. I got to the corner where the exit ramp from southbound Washington Blvd hits Columbia Pike. I checked the ramp, nothing was coming, I had the green light, so I started to cross. In the time it took me to get 2 feet into the road, a car coming down the ramp almost ran into me. I guess he looked to his left, didn't see any oncoming traffic, and decided to make a right-turn-on-red. Luckily, I was going slowly (and riding defensively) and was able to stop before I hit the side of his car. AARGH. That intersection should be marked "No Turn on Red." Hmm, I wonder what the speed limit is on that exit ramp -- he must have been going faster than whatever it is.

    And later that same morning, I had another incident! It was on Veitch St, heading toward Courthouse from Lee Highway. There's a separate bike path there, next to the sidewalk, with cars parked to the left of the path. A woman was putting her garbage cans IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BIKE PATH. I said, I thought politely, "Excuse me, please don't put your garbage cans in the bike path" and got criticized for being negative. MORE AARGH. But she did move the cans, to between the parked cars.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ltierstein View Post
    I'm sure this intersection has been the subject of previous threads, but this close call happened to me earlier this week.

    I was bicycling toward Pentagon City on the wide sidewalk on the north side of Columbia Pike (this is being called/treated like a bike/ped path) just before where Washington Blvd crosses the pike. It was around 7 AM on a weekday. I got to the corner where the exit ramp from southbound Washington Blvd hits Columbia Pike. I checked the ramp, nothing was coming, I had the green light, so I started to cross. In the time it took me to get 2 feet into the road, a car coming down the ramp almost ran into me. I guess he looked to his left, didn't see any oncoming traffic, and decided to make a right-turn-on-red. Luckily, I was going slowly (and riding defensively) and was able to stop before I hit the side of his car. AARGH. That intersection should be marked "No Turn on Red."
    You're singing my song.

    The existing interchange with Washington Blvd is extremely stressful and dangerous. Those riding in the road must not only contend with speeding traffic, but also with the right-turn only lane onto Washington Blvd at certain times of day. Those using the short piece of 10' sidepath must contend with high speed traffic exiting onto Washington Blvd and cars turning right on red across the sidepath not expecting to have to look for cyclists.

    A comprehensive safety review of the Washington Blvd / Columbia Pike interchange for cyclist and pedestrian safety in the next year. This interchange has been the site of numerous bicycle and pedestrian crashes since it was "improved" by VDOT several years ago. Timeline: within a year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ltierstein View Post
    I'm sure this intersection has been the subject of previous threads, but this close call happened to me earlier this week.

    I was bicycling toward Pentagon City on the wide sidewalk on the north side of Columbia Pike (this is being called/treated like a bike/ped path) just before where Washington Blvd crosses the pike. It was around 7 AM on a weekday. I got to the corner where the exit ramp from southbound Washington Blvd hits Columbia Pike. I checked the ramp, nothing was coming, I had the green light, so I started to cross. In the time it took me to get 2 feet into the road, a car coming down the ramp almost ran into me. I guess he looked to his left, didn't see any oncoming traffic, and decided to make a right-turn-on-red. Luckily, I was going slowly (and riding defensively) and was able to stop before I hit the side of his car. AARGH. That intersection should be marked "No Turn on Red." Hmm, I wonder what the speed limit is on that exit ramp -- he must have been going faster than whatever it is.

    And later that same morning, I had another incident! It was on Veitch St, heading toward Courthouse from Lee Highway. There's a separate bike path there, next to the sidewalk, with cars parked to the left of the path. A woman was putting her garbage cans IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BIKE PATH. I said, I thought politely, "Excuse me, please don't put your garbage cans in the bike path" and got criticized for being negative. MORE AARGH. But she did move the cans, to between the parked cars.
    As a first step, ACPD could enforce the stop-before-turning-on-red law. I would write des-teo@arlingtonva.us and police@arlingtonva.us and describe what happened, then ask for immediate enforcement, and a change to no-right-on-red in the near future.

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    I'm sorry about your experiences. I wrote to ACPD about the Pike-Washington Blvd intersection. I did get a thoughtful response, which I appreciated. They seem to rely a lot on reported accidents, which is important, but I suspect that they miss a lot. I know of at least one serious cyclist accident on the Pike which was not reported despite my entreaties. I do hope you report your incidents! You might also copy Lt. Dan Murphy (dmurphy at the Arlington address listed above), from whom I got my response, who told me I could contact him in the future for traffic issues. (I also griped about limited enforcement of the close passing.)

    As far as no-turn on red, I guess I tepidly agree that it is necessary, but I'm kind of torn. The thing is, in my experience, aggressive and thoughtless drivers (which your near-hitter clearly was) are going to turn right on no-turn-on-reds either way with no enforcement. Thoughtful and considerate drivers will be inconvenienced. Aggressive drivers are already committing several infractions by speeding and not coming to a complete stop at the red.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elbows View Post
    As far as no-turn on red, I guess I tepidly agree that it is necessary, but I'm kind of torn. The thing is, in my experience, aggressive and thoughtless drivers (which your near-hitter clearly was) are going to turn right on no-turn-on-reds either way with no enforcement. Thoughtful and considerate drivers will be inconvenienced. Aggressive drivers are already committing several infractions by speeding and not coming to a complete stop at the red.
    No turn on red is easy to enforce than stop-before-turn-on-red.

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