VIDEO REPORT: Police Enforce Stop Signs on Bike Trail

By STEPHEN SIEGEL
Falls Church Times Staff

Falls Church Police have begun stopping bicyclists who choose not to stop at the stop signs on the Washington & Old Dominion Trail. Watch the following 3-minute video for details.

By
October 27, 2009 

Comments

14 Responses to “VIDEO REPORT: Police Enforce Stop Signs on Bike Trail”

  1. Ben Morris on October 27th, 2009 8:16 pm

    This sounds ok to me, so long as it is kept at friendly warnings aimed at promoting safety. The number of stop signs on the trail do not make it reasonable to come to a full stop at every one, so true enforcement would be unfair and unwise on the part of the city.

    However, I am happy if the police stop (but not cite) more aggressive cyclists on a trail used by many families, kids, etc.

  2. TFC on October 28th, 2009 7:29 am

    I have to disagree with the poster. Stop signs are not negotiable. There are many locations in the City with numerous stop signs along the route. I have to stop for them whether I like it or not, whether it’s convenient or not.
    I have been scared by bikers blazing through stop signs for a long time. When driving I make a basic assumption that a car will stop at a stop sign. I’m cautious, making sure they do stop before I proceed. I can’t do this with bikes crossing. Ironically, if I slow when approaching a bike crossing…the bikers seem to interpret this as permission to proceed without stopping.

  3. Andy Rankin on October 28th, 2009 9:00 am

    What about yield signs at some of the crossings for bikes? It would only work where the bikers have a clear view of oncoming traffic on the cross streets. We can’t have no stop signs and I’m guessing bikers aren’t going to stop if they don’t see a car (unlike someone driving a car, it takes some effort to get your bike going again from a dead stop), so why not put up signs that warn bikers of the crossing (and their lack of right of way)?

  4. Grace Taylor on October 28th, 2009 10:35 pm

    I agree with TFC that STOP signs are not negotiable. Had 2 scary incidents when adult bikers just rode right into the road without slowing down nor looking out for traffic.

    Road safety is the responsibility of all users alike be they motorists, cyclists or pedestrians.

  5. Susanna on October 29th, 2009 8:27 am

    I also agree with TFC that stop signs are not negotiable. Had many incidents where the bikers just cruise through the stop signs without stopping at them.

  6. LFS on October 29th, 2009 9:32 am

    With so many stop signs on the W&OD bike trail, it is nearly useless for commuting. A better system needs to be worked out… perhaps using yield signs or other measures as Andy Rankin proposes. BTW, I’ve been nearly hit twice on W&OD crossings while cycling and I was obeying the signs.

    Don’t the police have higher priorities? What about staking out that string of daytime burglaries? What about closing that year-old car jacking case?

  7. EKT on October 29th, 2009 11:51 am

    In reading these responses thus far, I would like to add my voice, and suggest where we can find guidance. As one who rides both for recreational and commuting purposes, I have found this link invaluable.

    http://www.vdot.virginia.gov/programs/bk-laws.asp

    There you will find current information regarding bicycling and walking laws and safety tips for highways and trails in Virginia (trails link is at the very bottom of the page).

  8. SFF on October 29th, 2009 12:26 pm

    I’m glad I saw this story–I’m getting ready to go out on the W&OD right now for a training ride, and I’ve been one of the cyclists who doesn’t completely stop at the signs! I don’t blast through them without looking, but I know that I should be making a “legal stop” at each one. Worse than the stop signs along the FCC stretch are the ones down near the beginning of the trail near Shirlington, where you parallel the road that has the traffic lights — who wants to stop when the light is green? Yes, it’s a pain to have to stop and start so much, and yes it’d be nice to have some Yield signs instead, but it’s true the law is the law.

    EKT, thanks for the link.

  9. EKT on October 29th, 2009 12:33 pm

    SFF, you are more than welcome!

  10. Hendrik on October 29th, 2009 7:50 pm

    I love the “Required By Law” sign added beneath the Stop signs on the trail. Apparently stopping at all other Stop signs is NOT required by law. Hey, the trail users have been warned that THESE Stop signs count.

    Once again the Falls Church Police Dept gives itself a black eye. Shouldn’t they be out on Broad St ticketing people who are late to church driving 27 mph?

  11. RCH on October 29th, 2009 9:01 pm

    I happily live along the W&OD and have witnessed two incidents of bicycles striking pedestrians and any number of near misses. What some of the cyclists seem to not understand is the concept of sharing the trail. Some even seem intent on terrorizing the pedestrians, many of whom are “up in years” and are not nearly as nimble as the riders. There are also dozens of adults with baby strollers, tots on bikes and on foot, and the (minority) banzai-bikers do nothing to enrich the experience of these facility users. I hear bikers complain about the rudeness of scofflaw motorists who nearly sideswipe them, run them off the road, tailgate them, etc. Perhaps those same bikers should extend the courtesy they expect from motorists to the pedestrians they encounter on the W&OD.

    As regards using the W&OD for commuting purposes – more power to those riders willing and able to bike to work. However (comma) if the W&OD were not there, they would be riding the surface streets and subject to the rules of the road by which motor vehicles must abide. They’d be stopping (supposedly) at red lights, yielding to pedestrians in crosswalks, etc. Motorists are bound to stop for all stop signs regardless of whether there is approaching traffic from other directions, whether it is the dead of night, etc. The same strictures apply while riding on the W&OD. Stop at the stop signs. It’s simple, really. Obey the laws.

  12. John Murphy on October 29th, 2009 10:05 pm

    I’ve lived in the neighborhood for almost 20 years and have had way too many close calls as a pedestrian and as a driver at the Grove Avenue trail crossing. A little more enforcement is a good thing if people choose to ignore the posted stop signs and endanger themselves and others.

    It is not just the stop signs on the trail. I worked in the mid-1990s to get speed humps installed. Speed limits are also the law. Don’t get me started on enforcement of the posted turn restrictions …

  13. LFS on October 30th, 2009 11:38 am

    RCH, I’ve only twice seen bikers on the trial. One was Fairfax County cop, and the other was doing wheelies while reving his engine and clearly violating the law. Now cyclists I see all the time.

    But the conflict with cyclists and pedestrians cuts both ways. I’ve done a lot of cycling and a lot of walking and running on the W&OD. As somebody who has cycled the W&OD both for commuting and recreation, I can tell you that there are plenty of pedestrians who simply don’t watch where they are going. I’ve had many episodes where I was coming up behind a pedestrian and yelled “Passing on your left” only to have them move directly into my way. Many pedestrians flat out ignore the passing calls and the bicycle bells, so it comes as no surprise to me that some cyclists simply give up doing it — especially when giving the warning makes matters worse.

    But I guess Falls Church wants to strengthen its reputation for being hostile to outsiders. In addition to “Don’t park here. Don’t drive here.” we can now add “Don’t cycle here.”

  14. vlfrance on October 30th, 2009 1:04 pm

    The stop signs are important for safety.

    Commuting cyclists can slow down too. The path is mainly for recreational use and is not a roadway. I agree, however, it’s safest for all to have commuting cyclists on the path and fortunately they use it generally when it’s not heavily populated.

    A family friend biking in Florida ran a stop sign on a trail (I know, not Falls Church, but same concept) and has been in the hospital in critical condition for several weeks after being hit by a car. It happens.

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