What’s that thing near Memorial Circle?

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?

Picture of a RRFB at a crosswalk near Memorial Circle.

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 needs your help to continue improving the trail. Sign up for a volunteer trail improvement event or Donate to Friends of the Mount Vernon Trail to help us purchase tools and supplies.

Making the Memorial Bridge Detour Safer

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.

Crossing 1 is the crosswalk crossing across Arlington Boulevard north of Memorial Circle: https://goo.gl/maps/JgjLLo766Ln 

Safety issues for people on foot or bicycle include:

  1. High speeds of cars attempting to reach highway speeds for Arlington Blvd and 395.
  2. Poor sight lines of the crosswalk for car drivers moving around the bend off Memorial Bridge.
  3. Sight lines of the crosswalk are obstructed by other vehicles.
  4. 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.
  5. Faded crosswalk and lane markings.

Proposed Solutions for Crossing 1

  1. Removal of one travel lane of northbound traffic to lower speeds.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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

Crossing 2 is the crossing across Memorial Ave west of Memorial Circle: https://goo.gl/maps/aE8hKBZpSF72

Safety issues for people on foot or bike are:

  1. Westbound drivers traveling at high speeds around the traffic circle.
  2. Eastbound drivers diverting attention from pedestrians crossing to begin navigating entrance to the traffic circle.

Proposed solutions for Crossing 2:

  1. Narrow the westbound lane exiting the circle to a 10 or 11 foot traffic lane utilizing temporary physical barriers. This will provide traffic calming and lower speeds exiting the circle.
  2. Install a temporary pavement treatment such as thermoplastic bumps on the westbound lane to provide speed calming.
  3. Install a stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” sign in between opposing lanes on Memorial Avenue. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
  4. Continue to maintain the current reduction of Memorial Avenue to one lane each way.

Crossing 3 is the crossing of Washington Boulevard south of Memorial Circle: https://goo.gl/maps/b4A4GLtYSa52

Safety issues for people on foot or bike are:

  1. High speed traffic on Washington Boulevard
  2. Lack of signage directing users towards the Memorial Bridge detour (we’ve observed cyclists taking a lane across the bridge)

Proposed solutions for Crossing 3:

  1. Restripe the crosswalk
  2. Install thermoplastic bumps to warn of an impending crosswalk
  3. Install a stand up “Yield to Pedestrians” sign in between opposing lanes on Memorial Avenue. These are MUTCD R1-6 signs.
  4. Provide detour signage in large lettering indicating Memorial Bridge Detour and providing a large map of the detour route.

Recommendations for entire Memorial Bridge Detour:

  1. Provide additional detour signage in large lettering at each road crossing of the detour. Include full detour map.
  2. Provide encouragements signage through the detour to assure Park users they are still on the detour and encourage use of a safe route.

Memorial Bridge Detours

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.

A video demonstrating the detour and additional information is available from the National Park Service at https://www.nps.gov/gwmp/learn/management/pedestrians-bicyclists.html

Here’s the video outlining the detours: