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Thread: Observations at Lynn St. & the Custis

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    Exclamation Observations at Lynn St. & the Custis

    Yesterday morning I volunteered to count cyclists and peds for the annual count. It was actually relatively enjoyable, particularly since the weather was so nice.
    My assigned point was the Custis Trail sidewalk between Lynn St. and Ft. Myer Drive. I sat across the street where I could also easily observe the Lynn St. intersection.

    A couple of observations:
    Females accounted for only 17% of the eastbound (inbound) riders. I think this is a bit lower than the usual percentage of cyclists around the area. My theory is that the intersection of Lynn Street is perceived as too dangerous and many of those who have tried it either quit riding or are going a different way (Memorial Bridge perhaps). I'd be curious what the female percentage is, say, on the 14th St. Bridge for instance.

    More than once I have heard remarks like "There's a lot of misbehavior at that intersection from all users." However, in two hours of observing that intersection I saw not a single instance of what I would characterize as "bad behavior" by cyclists. Some were more assertive than others, but only in the sense that they were attempting to establish their right to the sliver of right of way that was not being accorded to them by the motorists. Most were not even doing that, but ceding right of way that was legitimately theirs. I did not see a single cyclist rush into the intersection. 100% of them approached it with caution, varying based on their level of experience from best I could tell. Not a single cyclist took any actions that I would characterize as against the law. No one even tried entering the intersection late--after the walk signal had turned steady.

    Motorists, on the other hand, consistently blocked the right of way and not infrequently cut ahead of cyclists who were already crossing. At least two turned right from the 3rd lane over. Lynn St. traffic consistently blocked the box--not clearing the intersection prior to the light changing. The advance walk signal is helpful for cyclists who are queued up at the time the light changes. Although when the Lynn St. traffic is still sitting on the trail it doesn't help as much. It's later in the cycle that problems get most acute.

    If what I saw was typical, which I think it is, then if any enforcement for safety reasons is to be done there, it needs to be focused virtually entirely on the motorists. Perhaps it's different at other times of the day, but for morning commuters, the cyclists clearly have learned to deal with this intersection carefully and to be aware that the motorists are going to misbehave. The cyclists are not the problem.

    Steve

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    The circus of danger that this intersection is needs to eventually be fixed. The sooner the better. Contrary to a contention I made in a post on GGW (http://greatergreaterwashington.org/...comment-117365), I no longer think someone will get killed there. Crashes are likely to be lower speed, resulting in injuries and property damage, but unlikely to be fatal.

    For those of you who have not read my proposed solution to this problem, I still think it is an elegant idea that does not require building a new tunnel or bridge.
    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/...-intersection/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    100% of them approached it with caution, varying based on their level of experience from best I could tell.
    No cyclist in his or her right mind with experience at this intersection would behave differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    The advance walk signal is helpful for cyclists who are queued up at the time the light changes.
    It is helpful, and I bet simply increasing the timing of the walk signal (to, say, a full 30-45 seconds?) would go a long way towards making this intersection safer and saner for everyone.

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    The timing between the upstream light (Ft. Myer Drive) and that one was changed last year so that you don't get a rush of bikes reaching Lynn at the end of the cycle there. I think that has greatly reduced the number of cyclists rushing through at the end.

    I think that technically the law says you should not enter an intersection through a crossing when the light is red, even when it's counting down. It's red after all. The countdown is for those already in the intersection, and is meant for pedestrians. Right or wrong, at that intersection, I usually don't cross on the red countdown just to add an extra margin of safety. I think a bike light at that spot would help so that more bikes would take that extra step.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
    The timing between the upstream light (Ft. Myer Drive) and that one was changed last year so that you don't get a rush of bikes reaching Lynn at the end of the cycle there. I think that has greatly reduced the number of cyclists rushing through at the end.

    I think that technically the law says you should not enter an intersection through a crossing when the light is red, even when it's counting down. It's red after all. The countdown is for those already in the intersection, and is meant for pedestrians. Right or wrong, at that intersection, I usually don't cross on the red countdown just to add an extra margin of safety. I think a bike light at that spot would help so that more bikes would take that extra step.
    We've had the discussion of the count down period before. One of the problems with many of the pedestrian lights is that the white crossing light is very short (frequently no more than ten seconds) while the flashing red is from 20 to 30 seconds and most cyclists can cross four lanes of traffic in less than five to ten seconds. The two bike crossing lights further west on the Custis (Scott and Oak streets) are timed differently from those interections pedestrian lights. If memory serves, I think the bike crossing light does not turn red until the regular traffic light turns yellow and has no blinking phase.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    For those of you who have not read my proposed solution to this problem, I still think it is an elegant idea that does not require building a new tunnel or bridge.
    http://greatergreaterwashington.org/...-intersection/
    Steve, I've always liked your proposed solution, but have you considered how cars are going to merge in the area that's off of your map? The traffic pattern for cars coming off 66 would be pretty dangerous. Right now, you have cars coming off of 110 in one lane that continues onto the exit ramp. Cars from 110 that want to continue on 66W have to merge out of that lane. Cars from 66 (TR Bridge) who want to go to Lee Hwy, GW Pkwy OR Key Bridge merge into that lane. It's already a mess, and often takes up the entire distance of the merge lane at rush hour. Will you be creating an area like the merge from 50E to Washington Blvd (towards 395) / Wash Blvd to Courthouse Road?

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    For decades as an Arlington resident I have been told that a solution is just around the corner; for decades nothing has been done. It is a tragedy.

    One interesting new problem.... bicycle traffic continues to grow. I have been through that intersection several times recently where the cyclist traffic blocks out the car traffic. There is so much pedestrian / cyclist traffic through the cross walk that on a given light cycle, almost no cars can make the turn.

    THAT problem might be the problem that leads to a solution. We cant have cars not make it into GTown after all, can we?

    Steve, thanks for continuing to push this. It seems like the problem is such a quagmire that both ABAC and ArlCo just have given up on it. Regularly, there is the pondering of what Arlington's priorities should be.... and I dont hear "Fix the Intersection of Doom" on top of it. Cyclists should ask ArlCo what they are going to do about this every single time they meet or talk with Arlco. (And yes I know it is a multi jurisdiction problem, but it really up to Arlco to take the lead as it is Arlco's citizens that are most directly impacted).
    Last edited by rcannon100; 09-16-2013 at 09:12 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by baiskeli View Post
    I think that technically the law says you should not enter an intersection through a crossing when the light is red, even when it's counting down. It's red after all. The countdown is for those already in the intersection, and is meant for pedestrians. Right or wrong, at that intersection, I usually don't cross on the red countdown just to add an extra margin of safety. I think a bike light at that spot would help so that more bikes would take that extra step.
    The law is silent on the issue. It was written before countdown signals were instituted, and only references "red", which, at the time of writing, referred to steady red. It's a grey area of law, and a difficult situation for those who go through every day. If you're queued up, you may not even get to the curb cut before the countdown starts (especial westbound).

    My frustration is that the easier things haven't been fixed. On the north corner, there's plenty of grass, yet no clearly marked waiting areas, leading to lots of confusion with cyclists and peds coming and going in multiple directions. On the south corner, there's not enough space for people to go in the different directions, leading to dangerous situations (like a cyclist headed from TR Island into Gtown, passing a line of cyclists headed West and cutting in front of them as the light turns green). We can do better.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    The law is silent on the issue. It was written before countdown signals were instituted, and only references "red", which, at the time of writing, referred to steady red. It's a grey area of law, and a difficult situation for those who go through every day.
    No, it's not grey, it's illegal. (Not that it stops me from doing it because--) the feds studied recommending adding an exception for crossing during the countdown if you finish crossing before the countdown ends but rejected it because the rules might then be confusing for children. I'm not a child.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mstone View Post
    No, it's not grey, it's illegal.
    Cite? I don't have my cites either, but I believe there was something from VDOT indicating the ambiguity.

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