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Thread: legal basis of "Use Ped Signal" signs in Alexandria? public outreach?

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    Default legal basis of "Use Ped Signal" signs in Alexandria? public outreach?

    I keep seeing new traffic control signs around town with a bike symbol and the words USE PED SIGNAL. This is MUTCD sign R9-5 which "may be used where the crossing of a street by bicyclists is controlled by pedestrian signal indications" per MUTCD chapter 9B. I assume these are all over DC since the DC council actually passed legislation providing this right across the District (right?).

    While I've seen hints that Virginia DOT recognizes R9-5 (like this doc on bicycle traffic controls), I've searched a bit on https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode and https://www.alexandriava.gov/ but I don't see clear authorization for using these signs. I think something like Virginia 46.2-925, "Pedestrian control signals" might mention this, but it does not. What authority empowers Alexandria to allow people on bikes to avail themselves of Leading Pedestrian Intervals? Yes, the City charter grants the City right "To regulate the operation of motor and other vehicles and exercise control over traffic in the streets of the city" but only "provided that ordinances or administrative regulations adopted by virtue of this subsection shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Code of Virginia." but does that even apply if the City hasn't adopted formal, written regulations but merely installed signs?

    I dislike the MUTCD guidance here: "If used, the R9-5, R10-4, R10-24, or R10-26 signs should be installed near the edge of the sidewalk in the vicinity of where bicyclists will be crossing the street." Alexandria has been installing the signs on the near side of the intersection. Motor vehicle operators are only accustomed to looking there if they are turning right and looking for guidance like whether right turns are allowed on red lights. Maybe I'm overly cynical but I forsee plenty of honking and cursing if I actually use an LPI when I see an R9-5 sign. I'm reluctant to avail myself of the privilege these signs seem to grant me -- not just because I don't want to be honked at, but also because I know every 10th time I do so, some war-on-cars type will misunderstand and start some hateful rant on Nextdoor about Those Scofflaw Cyclists Running Red Lights. :-/ Is the City going to undertake any kind of education/communication/awareness campaign? I don't even see these signs mentioned on https://www.alexandriava.gov/VisionZero , which touts other, similar changes made in recent years.

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    Hi Peter, I start riding on LPI for years and no one ever honked at me for that. I have not heard of any issues on Nextdoor related to this.

    Try it out and see what you think!

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    A picture would help as I don't see these signs often. That sign only makes sense if both bike lanes are on the same side of the street, like this Google Street View example at Custis/Ballston connection. Pressing a beg button is never required, because someone else pressed it, if not set to auto. The only thing required is looking, and start crossing while the walk signal is on. Started moving is not the same as started crossing.

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    "A picture would help as I don't see these signs often"

    This is at the corner of Cameron and West:
    Name:  D8CC6CB5-971A-464F-B148-54AFB65F6B2A.jpg
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    Is Alexandria a jurisdiction where cyclists on the sidewalks are considered pedestrians but on the roadway considered vehicles? If so, this sign may apply to the former group. Another speculation, cyclists have a hard time activating automatic signals. Could be just a means to engage the light sequence.

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    Google Street View(2019) doesn't show the sign, but both street view and Google Satellite(2021) show one bike lane at that intersection on Cameron St. It seems the sign is redundant, telling cyclist the law that they already know. The sign is intended if there is possible confusion in what signals to follow, the green light for cars, or the walk sign for peds, like the example in Ballston. The only other possibility is that they are planing to change road markings and add bike lanes like in Ballston/Custis connection, but I doubt it.

  8. 05-20-2021, 11:32 AM

    I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.

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    I thought this was on WB Cameron, not NB West

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    Quote Originally Posted by n18 View Post
    It seems the sign is redundant, telling cyclist the law that they already know
    Are you saying that in Alexandria (or all of Virginia?) a cyclist can bike through a red light if the pedestrian walk signal is on? If so, please cite a reference! I knew that to be true in DC but I didn't think it was the case in Virginia.

    Thanks.

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    lordofthemark is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterw_diy View Post
    Are you saying that in Alexandria (or all of Virginia?) a cyclist can bike through a red light if the pedestrian walk signal is on? If so, please cite a reference! I knew that to be true in DC but I didn't think it was the case in Virginia.

    Thanks.

    It is not legal for a cyclist to treat a red as stop or a stop as yield in Virginia. Even when an LPI is in effect. City of Alexandria has installed signs like this to make exceptions at particular intersections (I do not recall the issue for this particular intersection) though I am not certain what part of Va Code they are relying on.

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    I spent an hour searching Alexandria City Code, and I didn't find a citation. My guess is that it falls under following traffic signs general rule in VA code, and MUTCD could have elaborated more that it applies for cyclists who are using the road rather than the sidewalk. Here is what they said:

    "The R9-5 sign (see Figure 9B-2) may be used where the crossing of a street by bicyclists is controlled by pedestrian signal indications."

    I might say to a cop or traffic court judge that the description doesn't make a distinction between cyclists on the road or on sidewalks, it applies to both. I just wish they made it more clear. Perhaps contacting FHWA and asking them to add: ", whether the cyclist is using the road, bike lanes, shared use paths, or sidewalks."

    I believe that lordofthemark said it best. You can only cross during LPI if that sign is there too, otherwise wait for the green light just like cars.
    Last edited by n18; 05-21-2021 at 11:38 AM.

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    It'd also be nice if the MUTCD clarified whether this sign only means bicyclists may start early, in the LPI phase, or if it's also true that they must obey the Don't Walk ped signal, which tends to appear earlier than the motor vehicle red signal. On its face it seems to say that bicyclists at such intersections must obey all ped signals -- Walk and Don't Walk because the "indications", plural, "control" the bicyclists. I expect that's not what was intended, that somebody in FHWA edited too agressively (or wrote too lazily). Certainly I think it seems potentially dangerous for a lane-taking bicyclists to come to a stop when Don't Walk lights up, as any motor vehicle operators behind them likley won't be paying any attention to the ped signals, and the roadway signal will be at least yellow, if not actually still green, when Don't Walk appears. On its face, R9-5 seems to pit cyclists' obligations to follow pedestrian controls against their obligation not to impede motor vehicle traffic. So, yeah, probably it's just poor writing.

    Also I think giving cyclists something like an LPI is at best a little silly. Between motorists being distracted by their phones and cyclists having better peripheral vision and, especially in the case of e-bikes, acceleration, there seems little reason for the people on bikes to start first -- we usually cross the intersection first anyway. Add in Virginia's new change-lanes-to-pass law (and two abreast law!) and it also seems like a setup for some dangeous and/or annoying leapfrog moves as the motorists try to pass the cyclists who just shoaled them (excercising their rights under 46.2-841) as soon as the motorists get a green light. I know DC has had universal LPI rights for people on bikes for a few years, but does it also allow two bikes abreast? And require motorists to change lanes to pass even a single bicyclist? Allowing cyclists to shoal you at the red and then get a jump on you during the LPI wouldn't be as significant an imposition on motorists if the motorists just had to hug the left side of the lane to overtake the single-file cyclists. In Virginia starting July 1, theoretically, my kid & I can ride two abreast and set the pace any time or place where the motorists can't easily change lanes to pass -- like on the sections of Commonwealth with big medians and heavily-uitlized on-street car parking. LPI + R9-5 just makes it easier for us to legally do things that effectively disrupt traffic.

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