You might have noticed a little box attached to the signs for the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) at the crosswalks between the Mount Vernon Trail and Memorial Bridge. What is it? Are you on Mount Vernon Trail Candid Camera?
The box is there to automatically detects people approaching the crosswalk and activates the RRFB to improve safety at the trail crossing. The RRFBs were installed as part of the Memorial Circle Safety Improvements which also included lane reductions at multiple crossings. The automatic detection was installed after post evaluation of the project determined that a low percentage of trail users were using the button to activate the RRFBs.
The Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail recently went on a bike ride with Katie Harris from WABA’s Capital Trails Coalition and Josh Nadas from the George Washington Memorial Parkway to discuss safety improvements to the Memorial Bridge detour. Below are the recommendations the FOMVT provided to NPS. Thank you to everyone who provided feedback ahead of the ride and to Josh for being open to suggestions.
Safety issues for people on foot or bicycle include:
High speeds of cars attempting to reach highway speeds for Arlington Blvd and 395.
Poor sight lines of the crosswalk for car drivers moving around the bend off Memorial Bridge.
Sight lines of the crosswalk are obstructed by other vehicles.
Long crossing distances (3 lanes) for people on foot or bike.5. Drivers distracted from seeing pedestrians by attempting to merge from Memorial Circle or on to 395 in heavy traffic.
Faded crosswalk and lane markings.
Proposed Solutions for Crossing 1
Removal of one travel lane of northbound traffic to lower speeds.
Pavement treatments to slow northbound traffic coming off of the circle and accelerating onto South Arlington Blvd. Treatments could be thermoplastic pavement markings, speed humps, or other treatments.
Stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” signage on the lane markings in front of the crosswalk to promote traffic calming and indicate a pedestrian crossing. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
Install a temporary Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to alert car drivers that a pedestrian is present at the crossing. The current RRFB across the GWMP has been effective in allowing safe crossings. RRFBs are IA-21 in the MUTCD.
Restripe current crosswalk and lane markings which are badly faded. 6. Pilot NPS proposed changes to Memorial Circle through use of temporary devices such as jersey barriers
The National Park Service is currently rehabilitating the Memorial Bridge which will last until 2021. The south sidewalk is currently closed to pedestrians and cyclists. There is a detour that requires crossing busy roadways multiple times.