South West Street Gets Three Crosswalks

By Stephen Siegel
Falls Church Times Staff
November 14, 2015

It’s been a long slog for residents and users of the South West Street corridor, with detours, congestion, construction vehicles and noise while the road was rebuilt during the summer and fall. But the payoff can be seen now, with smooth new pavement and three new crosswalks that residents had requested.

There was some question about how many crosswalks ultimately would be approved, and City officials decided on the maximum choice of three (the other options were one or two) following meetings with residents last month.

The crosswalks are located at Ellison, Parker, and Poplar, and do change the look and feel of the road, making it look more like a residential area and less like a busy thoroughfare. Officials also added a fourth crosswalk perpendicular to the one at Ellison on the northbound side of West Street.

The Ellison crosswalk in particular seems to stand out, probably because of its location immediately south of Broad Street. There is a lot of pedestrian traffic there, especially from residents of the dense neighborhood of apartments on the 900 block of Ellison, who frequntly head to and from Rite Aid and the West Broad Street corridor.
The crosswalks were just painted a few days ago, as was new striping traveling the length of West from Ellison to the Fairfax line. The striping creates parking lanes and also narrows the width of the driving lanes. Making those driving lanes narrower causes drivers to travel more cautiously, traffic studies from around the country have shown.

Officials decided against adding a bike lane on the southbound side of West after residents expressed concern about a loss of parking. Instead, they opted to put “sharrows” on both driving lanes. A sharrow is a drawing of a bicycle, and its presence is intended to remind drivers that bicycles have equal access to the road and that motor vehicles must share it.

November 14, 2015 


5 Responses to “South West Street Gets Three Crosswalks”

  1. Lou Mauro on November 14th, 2015 9:14 pm

    Do each of the crosswalks have an accompanying stop sign? If not, they will merely entice pedestrians into a false sense of security and more of them will be victims of near-misses and run-ins with vehicles—-drivers supposedly traveling “more cautiously” will have the opportunity to maim or kill more people than before.

  2. Gail R Opitz on November 15th, 2015 11:58 am

    Good question, Lou. But, as anyone who lives in Winter Hill knows, STOP signs, in this case, means PAUSE to most…and nothing to others! Despite complaints from residents, nothing is done to enforce the failure to observe these traffic calming signs. When an RMD parks in the lot next to this intersection, cars still blow through the signs “unnoticed.” Of course, it would take looking AT the intersection to notice! Trying to cross Broad Street is becoming increasingly difficult because of the inconsistency in timing of lights. Ten seconds at S. Virginia and the light turns exactly at 0. But, 10 seconds is NOT 10 seconds! Down at Pennsylvania and Broad…well, I’ve still not figured that one out. All drivers have a red light for seconds…as do pedestrians! The techs who come to work on the lights claim timing is up to the city. Perhaps the city traffic calming person can take some time to watch cars and pedestrians in crosswalks and see how they’re working…or not.

  3. grateful2binfc on November 15th, 2015 3:15 pm

    @Lou Mauro and @Gail R Opitz, I believe the only stop signs on South West Street itself are at the intersection with Parker, which is a three-way stop. Unless something has gone up quickly I haven’t seen yet.

  4. TFC on November 16th, 2015 7:16 pm

    As I recall, the City has appropriated money for a traffic light synchronization software system that will allow officials to time the lights and adjust for traffic flow on Broad. I guess it’s not in place yet but may help a bit in the future. Meanwhile, as a pedestrian on Broad, I keep my head on a constant swivel ’cause someone is gonna do something dumb while I am walking.

  5. Carmen Medina Falls Church on December 8th, 2015 11:01 am

    The crosswalk signage at Parker and S. West impedes access to my driveway and makes for unsafe left turn. The City’s first response is that I have to live with it. Not very satisfactory. @milouness

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