Greater Greater Washington

Pedestrians


Park Police hassle driver who stops at GW Parkway crossing

Crosswalks along the GW Parkway are very dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists. But instead of fixing the problem, the Park Police are pulling over and criticizing drivers who stop to let people cross.


Photo by Andrew Beaujon on MobyPicture.

TBD's Andrew Beaujon reports that this morning, he was trying to cross the parkway on his bike, and a driver slowed down to let him. In response, Park Police officers pulled over the driver.

The officer then told Beaujon that he had pulled the driver over because his stopping might have led to a collision. Beaujon also says the officer was "very rude."

The Park Police seem to be responding, but in a very poor manner, to an incident last week where one driver rear-ended another who had stopped to let a cyclist cross at a crosswalk. As Stephen Miller explained, this stems from the basic design of the area, which is optimized for high-speed traffic flow instead of to accommodate both drivers and people crossing alike.

WJLA yesterday picked up the story of unsafe crossings here. Their video mentions the same solution Stephen suggested: HAWK signals, which DDOT officials told them have been very effective.


Racetrack-shaped ramps. From Google Maps.
Other residents suggest some kind of stoplight. None suggest responding to the rear-end collision by yelling at drivers who do stop. But that's just what the Park Police did. Whether they're overreacting to dancing, shutting down food trucks, arresting journalists at public meetings, or tasering pedicab drivers, there seems to be a pattern of very poor Park Police responses to issues that arise.

The "Smooth Operator" road safety campaign just sent out a press release entitled, "Speeding belongs on the racewaynot the roadway," citing the Baltimore Grand Prix and its drivers' maneuvers as something appropriate for the track but not for everyday driving. The ramps between the GW Parkway and Memorial Bridge even are oval-shaped like a racetrack; maybe the Park Police got confused.

Correction: The original headline on this article erroneously suggested Beaujon was a pedestrian. He was actually on a bicycle.

David Alpert is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Greater Greater Washington and Greater Greater Education. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He loves the area which is, in many ways, greater than those others, and wants to see it become even greater. 

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actually, the park police are doing the right there here. You now have two accidents in a few month that occurred when the driver SAW a pedestrian outside the crosswalk.

That being said, I don't see how stopping a car is any less dangerous. Maybe the bubbles will help, but I doubt it.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 12:16 pm • linkreport

Here we go again.

Why are Park Police making so many poor decisions? What makes them different from other regional law enforcement agencies? Its pathetic.

by Michael D. on Aug 2, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

Just asking... are drivers legally required to stop for people in crosswalks in Virginia and/or on the parkway?

by Evan on Aug 2, 2011 12:19 pm • linkreport

@ Evan; yes, although that section of the Parkway is technically in DC.

However, a driver doesn't have to stop for someone on the side of road. The pedestrian has a duty not to enter the road unless there is an appropriate and safe stopping difference. Once in the crosswalk, the pedestrian takes the right of way and the driver has to stop.

In both accidents, the pedestrians were NOT in the crosswalk, but standing on the side of the road.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 12:23 pm • linkreport

Drivers also have a duty to not crash into the back of other cars, even if they stop in the road.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 12:30 pm • linkreport

"In both accidents, the pedestrians were NOT in the crosswalk, but standing on the side of the road."

This post made it sound like the Park Police were stopping cars for stopping at crosswalks...but they're actually stopping cars for stopping in areas without crosswalks or stopsigns? What's the big deal here?

If this were a case of everyone obeying the rules, crossing at the right spot, stopping for the right people, and then gettin in trouble with the Park Police, I'd be super angry. But it's not--it's a post about ripping on the Park Police for enforcing a rule.

Maybe there needs to be a crosswalk there. But absent one, this is just another episode in the daily Alpert-with-his-selective-facts v. NPS drama.

by Jeff on Aug 2, 2011 12:33 pm • linkreport

I drive this area every day. I know you are supposed to stop for pedestrians actually inside the crosswalk, which I always do. However, if there is a pedestrian waiting to cross, like, just standing on the side of the road, I must admit I am too fearful to slow down and be courteous, as much as I want to, because I will get rear-ended. Sorry to all the pedestrians about this terrible road design.

by toorad on Aug 2, 2011 12:35 pm • linkreport

Jeff: There are crosswalks there. What charlie is saying is that they were not in the roadway upon the crosswalk, but at the side of the road at the end of the crosswalk. He says a driver is not required to stop for a pedestrian standing there.

However, that doesn't mean it's not appropriate etiquette for a driver to stop anyway and let the pedestrian get into the crosswalk (at which point they will have the right of way to finish crossing).

by David Alpert on Aug 2, 2011 12:37 pm • linkreport

@DaveAlpert; actually, it isn't etiquette. It's law. That area is unsafe, and very dangerous to make a stop. The etiquette is wait for a gap in the traffic and cross there.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 12:40 pm • linkreport

Well this is not helpful.

The law is "stop for pedestrians in cross walks" - unless the park police wants to change that law, they are really not helping and they are telling drivers the wrong information.

by wilbur on Aug 2, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: it isn't etiquette. It's law. That area is unsafe, and very dangerous to make a stop. The etiquette is wait for a gap in the traffic and cross there.

DC law actually says to stop for pedestrians in a cross walk. Drivers are reminded of this all over town. So, legally, the second a pedestrian gets a toe in the cross walk, cars need to stop.

Cars don't.

Also: Rear-ending is illegal in any circumstance. Your supposed to drive slow enough and keep enough distance that you can stop when the car/biker/pedestrian in front of you stops. For whatever reason.

by Jasper on Aug 2, 2011 12:47 pm • linkreport

@Alpert

As a driver I often yield my right-of-way to cyclists, and as a cyclists I give a wave back to drivers who yield for me.

But the GW parkway is not the place for this -- at least under the current arrangement. Courteous those drivers may be, but their actions are reckless and the police should treat them accordingly.

by TGEoA on Aug 2, 2011 12:48 pm • linkreport

@ Jasper; actually, I'm not sure that is a 100% rule. The duty is to yield, not to stop. That's the way most rules of the road work.*

And in both accidents here, the "one toe" rule wouldn't apply.

And again, the pedestrian has a duty NOT to step into a crosswalk unless it is safe for the oncoming vehicle to stop.

*imagine sudden braking for a squirrel. Who is to blame there?

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 12:52 pm • linkreport

who in there right mind would try to cross the GW Parkway

by Jerome on Aug 2, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

DA: Are you complaining about the road, the law, the drivers, or the police?

by goldfish on Aug 2, 2011 12:54 pm • linkreport

I'll concur that cyclists should step off their bikes and walk them across. It's safer and quicker for everyone all around even if it wasn't the law.

I'd be astonished if that was why the PP made an issue of this, however. Observance of pedestrian rights in this area is abysmal and I can't remember ever seeing law enforcement ding someone for it.

by Don on Aug 2, 2011 12:57 pm • linkreport

@charlie
imagine sudden braking for a squirrel. Who is to blame there?

The person who hits you from behind! You are legally supposed to follow at a distance where you have enough time to react and stop.

Good lord, if you don't at least know that much what business do you have driving? People of course never follow this rule since it's one of those things we get "taught" in driver's ed that is dismissed as impractical later.

by MLD on Aug 2, 2011 1:01 pm • linkreport

I really hope that after every one of these citations the drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, or pedicab drivers file a complaint with the Park Police.

by CB on Aug 2, 2011 1:02 pm • linkreport

I was rear-ended approximately six years ago after stopping to let a jogger cross the Parkway at the Arlington Cemetery traffic circle where the Parkway meets Memorial Bridge.* The jogger did not stop and come back after he saw me get rear-ended (he looked back because he heard the collision and I know he saw what had happened because he cringed and waved).

I don't stop for pedestrians at that crosswalk anymore.

*(The police did not cite me for stopping - the other driver who plowed into me was ruled at fault.)

by efroh on Aug 2, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

@ MLD; the words you are looking for are "reasonable and prudent". I'll grant you and Jasper that 9 times out of 10, the person following is cited. But like a traffic law, it isn't a 100% rule.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

Kind of ironic, but the Baltimore Grand Prix will take place on the streets of downtown Baltimore (as opposed to a purpose built race track). Further, looking at the turns in the picture in the article, most of the them seem to be more sweeping (and thus faster) than those of the BGP track.

by Steven Yates on Aug 2, 2011 1:14 pm • linkreport

I feel bad for the Park Police. They have to enforce traffic laws in a place that is basically a busy freeway with crosswalks. It's not that police officer's fault that someone created a really stupid road design.

It's also not each officer's fault that NPS has a stupid agreement with TourMobile that their Administrator has interpreted as banning pedicabs, or that there is no NCR coordination that allows for NPS, MPD, etc. to coordinate food truck rules and create a uniform park use plan.

Really, the only thing I've seen in all these posts that really makes the Park Police look bad was the taser incident (which should at least be investigated), and a consistent leitmotif about officers being "rude." Police officers don't hand out candy and high fives. That's not new! And the NPS mascot is a freaking demanding, accusatory bear named Mc-GRUFF!! Have you people been living under a rock? Security blanket? What gives?

Gee whiz, guys. It's easy to focus on Alpert's selection of traffic-blocking pedicabers, amateur event planners, and rule-ignoring bad drivers getting their feelings hurt for not knowing or following rules--even if those rules ARE dumb. Too bad. These officers may not be the nicest people every time you talk to them. But they're out there in the heat protecting your butts. Stop whining.

by Jeff on Aug 2, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

It's absolutely insane to stop for runners or bikers at any of those crosswalks on the Parkway. You can surprise a lot of drivers by doing that which causes them to swerve to miss you and as a result they hit the person using the crosswalk. It's great to say that other drivers should be alert to potential stops but reality is a different story. There are enough breaks in traffic (I run there every day) where you can safely get across the road.

by david on Aug 2, 2011 1:22 pm • linkreport

@charlie
the words you are looking for are "reasonable and prudent". I'll grant you and Jasper that 9 times out of 10, the person following is cited. But like a traffic law, it isn't a 100% rule.

So what? Your 90% rule means that somehow you're right that people shouldn't stop and everyone else is wrong? Because that's clearly where you're going with this.

by MLD on Aug 2, 2011 1:26 pm • linkreport

The DC law doesn't appear to have any mention of the need for a pedestrian to actually be in a crosswalk, just 'crossing', I could certainly argue that a presence on the sidewalk with movement at the road could be considered 'crossing'.

§ 50-2201.28. Right-of-way at crosswalks.

(a) When official traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and give the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

I do think that area is terribly dangerous for a pedestrian to cross and a driver to stop, but I don't see how it could possibly the fault of the rear driver if the "[front driver] slowed so [a pedestrian] could cross gw pkwy" (to abuse the twitter quote a bit), even if it is not a given ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrS91Db6TpM chats a bit about that).

I think its definately etiquette to not fly past past people, if the speed limit is slow enough, I would go so far as to suggest stopping.

by Ryan D on Aug 2, 2011 1:28 pm • linkreport

Writing an article does shed light on the problem but the formal process should be used also. I hope he and the driver got the badge number and filed an official complaints.

by Sean Wieland on Aug 2, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

@MLD; my position, which you are clearly unable to understand:

1. Cars don't stop when the pedestrian is on the side of the road
2. Pedestrians shouldn't enter the crosswalk unless it is safe for oncoming cars to stop

On this segment of road, it isn't a good idea to be "polite" and stop. Sorry. This isn't a city street.

@Ryan; the quote is very clear.

"right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection"

If you're not in the crosswalk, you're not in the crosswalk.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 1:32 pm • linkreport

Isn't the sole purpose of a crosswalk be to indicate a safe place for pedestrians to cross a street? Somehow I don't imagine the Park Police will be backing that up by standing for pedestrians. Take this crosswalk sting operation in San Francisco: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/01/police_crosswalk_sting_seeks_t.php

The crime here is that pedestrians are lured here by a crosswalk that doesn't have the protection any crosswalk should have. Same with most crosswalks in DC. I'd like to see one of these sting operations here.

by Steve on Aug 2, 2011 1:34 pm • linkreport

This intersection is awful. I used to commute this way everyday, and would almost see an accident about twice a week. For some reason the drivers inside the circle have to yield to oncoming traffic, which makes traffic back up in the circle. So then impatient drivers will try to exit the circle, onto the bridge, from the inside lane. They're essentially cutting off to lanes of traffic, with drivers that are looking for traffic in the other direction.

by MG on Aug 2, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

Truly perplexing. How about pulling over speeding cars outbound on the Memorial Bridge as they approach the circle crosswalk? The sign on the bridge says the speed limit is 25 mph. The likely average speed as they swing around the curve towards pedestrians and bikers is 50 or 60 mph.

by aaa on Aug 2, 2011 1:39 pm • linkreport

@charlie I don't know that I've fully changed on the rest of my points, but yeah, that law would mention that they have to be in the crosswalk itself, wouldn't it. So, nothing to see here, if I could edit my comment, I'd strike the 'but I could argue' part...

I don't disagree with your points, though I think there are different levels of conversation at play.

Must the car stop: I'd say no, though it isn't clear if the guy was actually in the crosswalk. It reads like he was not and the law I quoted doesn't matter.

Should the car stop: I'd like to think so, but there are valid arguements as to why not.

Can the car stop: I'd say yes, and that unless they stopped very agressively (which is why I used that twitter quote, emphasis on 'slowed'), I don't understand why they should be stopped for it, much less hastled.

by Ryan D on Aug 2, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

I know what DC law says, but does this law apply to GW Parkway if it is under the control of the NPS? Just asking...

by EH on Aug 2, 2011 1:44 pm • linkreport

2. Pedestrians shouldn't enter the crosswalk unless it is safe for oncoming cars to stop

--------------------------

So a pedestrian should have to ensure it is safe for cars to stop? That makes no sense. Do drivers have any responsibility on a shared motor-way?

A ped won't step into the lane because the cars are whizzing by, so they wait at the crosswalk. How long? How long should they wait for a "break in traffic" that never seems to come along this highway?

Hawk lights, stop signs, overpasses or turn this into a full on freeway.

by greent on Aug 2, 2011 1:45 pm • linkreport

@EH; yes, DC traffic laws applies on the Columbia Island section of the Parkway. Virginia law applies to rest in VA.

@RyanD; prudent and reasonable. Not the case here -- stopping for a pedestrian is dangerous.

That doesn't take away the duty of the car to stop IF the pedestrian is already crossing.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

This is just a symptom. The cause is rampant and pretty much universal speeding. You have 99% of drivers breaking the law, and creating a dangerous situation. Ironically, that dangerous situation is cited as the reason why we should endanger pedestrians and cyclists even further.

@charlies claim that pedestrians have no right-of-way unless they're actually in the road, and that they have an obligation to wait until "there is an appropriate and safe stopping difference" is disingenuous at best. If drivers were driving the speed limit, it wouldn't be an issue. At 40 mph, pedestrians would approach the crosswalk, see there was a car a hundred yards away, and cross. As it is, everyone is every driver is bearing down at 15-20 mph over the posted speed limit. So the argument here is that any pedestrian who puts his toe in the crosswalk is taking his life into his own hands. He's also endangering multiple drivers.

But, frankly, that's horseshit. *Drivers* are endangering themselves and pedestrians. The NPS and PP should be enforcing the speed limits. Drivers should be driving with due care, and not over-driving their sight lines and braking distance.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 1:53 pm • linkreport

per Websters, "pedestrian [n] a person going on foot." Bicyclists riding in crosswalks do not qualify.

by jim on Aug 2, 2011 1:55 pm • linkreport

@charlie, and the rest of the commenters here suggesting that the Park Police are "doing the right thing here":

There is no sense in which the Park Police can be said to be "doing the right thing" here (like, sadly, so many other instances in which, among many possible courses of action, the Park Police seem to choose the worst). In this case, Park Police are harassing a motorist for obeying the law. You may not like the law. You may think the law ought to be changed to accomodate your desires. You may be fine with the Park Police's failure to enforce the law (by not stopping and ticketing speeders, or drivers who fail to yield). But this case isn't just incompetence through inaction; it involves affirmatively directing people to not yield as required under both Virgina and DC laws, and under the applicable federal regulations governing the GW Parkway. That's a misdemeanor the officer (driving Park Police car license I412312 this morning) was soliciting.

by Paula Product on Aug 2, 2011 1:58 pm • linkreport

I'd like to know the WHOLE story, but we'll never get it. All we have is some brief Twitter stuff about a guy stopping to let someone cross and then a cop admonishing him for doing so. What we don't know is how he stopped--did he slam on his brakes suddenly in traffic or stop short or something else that might be deemed sudden and unexpected? While the story as related here sounds suspicious, I'm 100% certain there's something missing somewhere.

by Rich on Aug 2, 2011 1:58 pm • linkreport

Guys, I think we're missing the point here. All of the drivers are breaking the law and all the pedestrians are getting hit because NPS is MAKING THEM DO IT. Don't forget -- NPS is the evil party here, no one else is accountable for their own actions.

Don't worry, D.A., I got your back.

by Ronald on Aug 2, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport

At 40mph, a car travels 100 yards in 5 seconds. Just sayin.

Also, you have to be "within" the crosswalk for the driver yield to be required. If you are on the side of the road you do not count.

It is illegal to stop on the parkway unless required to do so by yielding or in an emergency. The cop was just giving a friendly reminder, and should have done the same to the pedestrian. Learn the damn law.

by Max on Aug 2, 2011 2:02 pm • linkreport

The problem is at one of the crosswalks, you won't see a stopped car until you are very close in. Two merges also distract you.

On the longer section by the river, I do think a hawk type signal might work.

Is it a peculiar enforcement? maybe. If anything, this discussion shows how confused most people are. Should GGW be putting the word out that the best thing to do at these crosswalks is stop, wait for a gap in traffic, and then cross? Is that so hard?

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 2:03 pm • linkreport

When I drive and see a yield sign at an intersection, I understand that to mean that I have to yield to oncoming traffic that has not yet entered the intersection. Is the meaning of "yield" different when pedestrians or bicycles are approaching an intersection? Approaching a crosswalk?

by Ben Ross on Aug 2, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

I just like the shoulder the PP had the driver pull onto... The entire parkway is poorly designed and maintained.

by @SamuelMoore on Aug 2, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

charlie -- Try using some of these crosswalks during rush hour, which is actually 7 to 10 am in the mornings, and see how often you find a gap. Peds and bikers are dependent on the good will of drivers here.

by aaa on Aug 2, 2011 2:07 pm • linkreport

I've stopped plenty of times for pedestrians and bicyclists at these crossings (in the crosswalk or waiting to cross), but I make sure I'm going slow enough approaching the crosswalk to safely and gradually come to a stop. I'd agree that a driver slamming on the brakes to stop for someone outside the crosswalk creates a potential safety hazard and they should stop less abruptly. But the onus is still on the car behind to be ready to stop at any time.

The basic problem here is that drivers go to fast, follow to closely, and don't pay enough attention given the tight turns, merging lanes, and crosswalks in this section of the parkway. The best solution is to reduce the speed limit, enforce it, and add some physical measures to self-reinforce the slower speeds (and maybe some HAWKs, too). Sure it might cost drivers a minute, but I'd rather go slower and have everyone be safer.

by RichardatCourthouse on Aug 2, 2011 2:14 pm • linkreport

As a general question, I actually am wondering how pedestrians are supposed to cross busy roads at crosswalks, given that drivers are only supposed to yield to pedestrians actually in the crosswalk, right? and breaks in traffic are rare, by definition, on a busy road.

by Miriam on Aug 2, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

The whole mess of highways near Arlington National Cemetery should be torn up and modernized to make it less confusing for motorists, less hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, and all-in-all more attractive. Is there any reason this hasn't been done?

by orulz on Aug 2, 2011 2:19 pm • linkreport

Try using some of these crosswalks during rush hour, which is actually 7 to 10 am in the mornings, and see how often you find a gap. Peds and bikers are dependent on the good will of drivers here.

Shh. @charlie's found a shaky legal loophole he can use to strip pedestrians of their legal right-of-way and absolve drivers of their dangerous anti-social behavior.

Anyway, obviously the reasonable thing to do here would be to have a critical mass for walkers, get some of those old laundry carts, fill 'em with orange cinderblocks, and start asserting your ROW. As PP said, at 40 mph, it takes 5 seconds to go 100 yards. Of course, as a driver, you should be looking for pedestrians waiting to cross at the clearly marked crosswalks, and you might even be legally required to go less than the speed limit in less than optimal conditions.

There really is no better example of the massive cognitive dissonance in our society--and how driving is privileged behavior--than the disparate treatment between cyclists who might roll a stop sign in an urban environment, versus drivers obliterating the posted speed limit, and completely ignoring the posted crosswalks, and pedestrian ROW.

The former, we call for regular sting operations. The latter, we encourage the scofflaws to drive as fast as they want, and never ever yield.

Utterly bonkers.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 2:25 pm • linkreport

@Max I probably missed the reference in the past, but I'm not sure if your citing the more generic laws that you can't arbitrarily stop in a road or if the gw parkway has something more specific for it. In any case, how is this not a situation were the driver was stopping to yield to oncoming pedistrian traffic -- be it caused from the driver interpretting intent, the pedestrian in the crosswalk, or from any part of the discussion that @Ben Ross presented?

by Ryan D on Aug 2, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

The whole mess of highways near Arlington National Cemetery should be torn up and modernized to make it less confusing for motorists, less hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, and all-in-all more attractive. Is there any reason this hasn't been done?

It hasn't been done because everything works just fine. No one's complaining. And by that I mean it works fine for drivers. What are you going to do, spend millions of dollars and disrupt auto commuters routines for a year or more just so some jogger doesn't have to wait for a break in traffic?

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 2:29 pm • linkreport

@charlie:

You forgot one:

1. Cars don't stop when the pedestrian is on the side of the road.
2. Pedestrians shouldn't enter the crosswalk unless it is safe for oncoming cars to stop.
3. It is never safe for oncoming cars to stop (with the current driver culture, including the ridiculous speeds in the face of zero enforcement).

Welcome to the third world.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 2:42 pm • linkreport

Jim, it turns out that Websters has no legal standing. The law does.

And under the law in both DC and Virginia cyclists using a crosswalk have the rights and duties of pedestrians, and the only duty of a pedestrian at an uncontrolled crossing is to avoid entering the road so suddenly that traffic is unable to yield. The only traffic controls which apply to pedestrians are walk/don't walk lights, or traffic lights in their absence. The only way to remove pedestrian right of way at a cross walk is to install a traffic light.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 2:48 pm • linkreport

I need clarification on @charlie's argument here:

Are you saying that a car must stop only when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk and already in the road, but cars must not stop for a pedestrian waiting at the edge of the road at a legal crosswalk? Or are you alleging that this pedestrian was attempting to cross GW Parkway at a location other than a marked crosswalk (and therefore the car should not have stopped and Park Police were correct in ticketing him)?

by ObliviousScout on Aug 2, 2011 2:54 pm • linkreport

It would have been exceedingly interesting to hear what a judge would say if there were a ticket issued to a driver stopping for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. Maybe we would have heard something new and quotable.

At a crosswalk Virginia courts have held “the pedestrian has a superior right -- that is, the right to cross from one side of the street to the other in preference or priority over vehicles -- and drivers of vehicles must respect this right and yield the right of way to the pedestrian. The pedestrian's right of way extends from one side of the street to the other. It does not begin at any particular point in the intersection nor does it end at any particular point. It begins on one side of the street and extends until the pedestrian has negotiated the crossing.” (Marshall v. Shaw. Supreme Court of Virginia, 1955) http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=2476417758289562501&hl=en&as_sdt=2&as_vis=1&oi=scholarr

"The duty of a motor vehicle driver on approaching an intersection is to keep a vigilant lookout for pedestrians between curbs on the traveled portion of the highway, and when pedestrians are negotiating the crossing, or about to step from the side into traffic lanes, to operate his car at such speed and under such control that he can readily turn one way or the other, and, if necessary, bring his machine to a stop in time to avoid injury to pedestrians." (Sawyer v. Blankenship, Supreme Court of Virginia, 1933) http://va.findacase.com/research/wfrmDocViewer.aspx/xq/fac.19330615_0040113.VA.htm/qx

by napes on Aug 2, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

This whole area should NOT, as others suggested, be torn up and re-designed. I'm a biker...and use that stretch of the trail about four times a week...and the reality is that the roads are built for the cars not bikers and pedestrians. And that's how it should be in my personal view. The Park Service action does seen absurd in this case and way off base. But then, we have way too many law enforcement overlaps in DC since 9/11 and I see mostly people sitting around in shiny new cars doing NOTHING and getting paid for it. Maybe this person with the Park Service just got bored.

There is no easy solution here...but let's not tear up any more roads in such a beautiful area.

by Pelham1861 on Aug 2, 2011 3:02 pm • linkreport

Thank you to 'NAPES' above who researched those court cases. Very instructive.

by Pelham1861 on Aug 2, 2011 3:04 pm • linkreport

Are you saying that a car must stop only when a pedestrian is in the crosswalk and already in the road, but cars must not stop for a pedestrian waiting at the edge of the road at a legal crosswalk? Or are you alleging that this pedestrian was attempting to cross GW Parkway at a location other than a marked crosswalk (and therefore the car should not have stopped and Park Police were correct in ticketing him)?

No, he goes further and argues that it's the pedestrian's sole responsibility to not enter the crosswalk "unless it is safe for oncoming cars to stop." Of course, that doesn't just apply to Driver A coming to a stop before hitting the pedestrian, the pedestrian must also take into account the possibility that Driver B might run into Driver A For example if there are a bunch of other drivers all exceeding the speed limit by 30-40%, and checking their GPS', or enjoying the scenic view across the river, 200, 300, 400 yards may not be "safe for oncoming cars to stop."

Ok, the bottom line is, drivers have no responsibility whatsoever to slow down, much less stop. In fact, the few who obey the law as written are really the dirtballs here.

Man, and I thought scofflaw cyclists were tenacious in their defense of their lawbreaking behavior.

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

@ charlie:The duty is to yield, not to stop. That's the way most rules of the road work.*

Never seen this sign?

STOP for pedestrians

http://www.flickr.com/photos/shyammenon/2551200694/>

And in both accidents here, the "one toe" rule wouldn't apply.

Well, because the pedestrian is not relevant. It's the rear-ending that's relevant.

And again, the pedestrian has a duty NOT to step into a crosswalk unless it is safe for the oncoming vehicle to stop.

I think the pedestrian can cross when it is safe *for the pedestrian* to cross, but correct me if I am wrong. Now, the pedestrians safety is related to the ability of the car to stop, or at least slow down. But I am not sure the pedestrian has to worry about the total safety of the car.

*imagine sudden braking for a squirrel. Who is to blame there?

The person rear-ending. You should always anticipate the person in front of you being an idiot. That's why tailgating is so dangerous. You're better at finding legal code, but here's the text from some lawyer's website.

http://www.assaadlaw.com/dc-injury-law-blog/2011/06/27/i%E2%80%99ve-been-rear-ended-%E2%80%93-is-the-other-driver-automatically-at-fault/

by Jasper on Aug 2, 2011 3:34 pm • linkreport

I lurve me some bike-ped posts. I think they generate the most comments that include "scofflaw."

by Words R Fun on Aug 2, 2011 3:36 pm • linkreport

@Jasper; the lawyers site you link drop actually supports my contention:

"A common example of when rear end collisions are not the fault of the rear driver occurs when there are multiple vehicles involved."

"Another type of situation in which the driver of the rear car may not be liable for a rear end collision occurs when the driver of the front vehicle was driving negligently and actually caused the collision"

I fully agree that a pedestrian, or driver, can't be expected to do complex legal calculus when crossing a street. You need some quick and dirty rules. Here's one: don't expect cars to stop when you stand at the edge of the street. Here's another: don't stop for pedestrians waiting on the side of the street.

@ ObliviousScout; in these cases on the Parkway, we are talking about marked crosswalks. In both accidents, pedestrians were standing (and waiting) and the driver stopped.

@Napes, thanks for the cites but both cases as a bit old and off point. The first involved a "safety zone" in the middle of the street and whether that was part of the sidewalk. Nothing about whether the crosswalk magically extends beyond the street. The second case is more about duty to control your vehicle, which always applies.

There was a death in the first case, so I'd expect some sort of settlement. Who is responsible. The biker, in that case, clearly not. Blame must be divided between the two drivers -- the one who stopped, and the second who then rear-ended the first.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 3:51 pm • linkreport

@charlie I don't know that your interpreting the link correctly, particularly for the first point. I read it that when there are multiple vehicals involved, the middle one would not likely be at fault (which is the rear vehicle relative to the leader), but rather the rear-most car. Quoting the second link implies that the driver was negligent.. this is what you'r arguing, but I don't think is the case. I don't think either of those citations support your contentions (though may not particularly discount them either).

From the perspective of the pedestrian, I think "don't expect cars to stop when you stand at the edge of the street" may be good advice for there safety. To me, thats only to the point where the pedestrian stands on the side, ignores the world, and then wanders in at the last minute because the 'car should have stopped'.

I simply don't agree with "don't stop for pedestrians waiting on the side of the street". I don't think that a strict don't is appropriate for the situation, much less what I think the situation should be. If the parkland exists with a crosswalk and a lovely path (which I think it should, and I'm glad it does), I don't think that advice directs us in the right direction.

by Ryan D on Aug 2, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

@charlie

There are three classic cases where the rear driver is not responsible.

1. Described in your post involves car B hitting car A from behind because they were pushed by car C.

2. Also desribed above, involves car A swerving in front of car B (in their 2-second space) and either stopping suddenly or going too slowly for car A to react.

3. Car A driving at night without taillights.

None of these are applicable.

And for the squirrel question, when I taught defensive driving so many years ago, we taught that you should not break for any animal smaller than a deer (sorry cat, dog and turtle lovers). But even if someone does, the person who rear-ends them is at fault.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 4:08 pm • linkreport

@RyanD; the point I was trying to make re: rear-end collisions and fault is it not a black/white rule. It is, like all rules of the road, based on the concept of yielding. And keeping control of your vehicle.

Now, in terms of your suggestions on what to do with GW parkway. People who followed your advice have resulted in two accidents -- one fatal and one nearly so. It is simply bad advice. Pedestrians have duties as well, and on that part of the parkway stopping for them isn't a good idea. There are times and places where it is appropriate, and times and places where it isn't.

by charlie on Aug 2, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

the reality is that the roads are built for the cars not bikers and pedestrians.

And that's the problem. It is after all a PARKway - as asuka points out.

by David C on Aug 2, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

Here's the DC law. Not too obvious if it applies here. There doesn't seem to be a whole lot of clarity in the DC code as to where a crosswalk starts and ends, but there also isn't any of the "you're free to drive right through as long as your whole body isn't in the road" language charlie alludes to.

-------------

Formerly cited as DC ST 1981 § 40-726
District of Columbia Official Code 2001
Division VIII. General Laws.
Title 50. Motor and Non-Motor Vehicles and Traffic. (Refs & Annos)
Subtitle VII. Traffic.
Chapter 22. Regulation of Traffic.
Subchapter I. General Provisions. (Refs & Annos)
Part B. Miscellaneous.
Current Section§ 50-2201.28. Right-of-way at crosswalks.

(a) When official traffic-control signals are not in place or not in operation, the driver of a vehicle shall stop and give the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within any marked crosswalk or unmarked crosswalk at an intersection.

by jyindc on Aug 2, 2011 4:41 pm • linkreport

"in these cases on the Parkway, we are talking about marked crosswalks. In both accidents, pedestrians were standing (and waiting) and the driver stopped." - charlie
Ah, thanks for clearing that up.

Your interpretation of the law here is incorrect. The links and citations from others in this series of posts (and I add my thanks to @napes for the case history) should be sufficient evidence.

But more importantly, your suggestion presents a dangerous catch-22 for the pedestrian (and frankly, a legal catch-22 for drivers). According to your logic, a pedestrian can only enter the crosswalk if it is "safe" to do so. You define "safe" to mean no cars are required to slow down or stop in order for the pedestrian to make it across the street.

So in your world, the crosswalk is basically meaningless, and you leave unresolved who has right-of-way and who must yield. On paper, the law says "cars must yield," but in practice you effectively say, "pedestrians must yield." Confusion like that will be the source of more accidents, not fewer.

So returning to the collision that started this whole discussion. Had the pedestrian been in the crosswalk, she likely would have also been seriously injured or killed, but at least she would have been following the law, according to you. Only then would you say the truck driver was at fault, right? Or would you still maintain that the driver who stopped (for a pedestrian legally in the crosswalk) was at fault? Or would you blame the pedestrian for attempting to cross when it was not "safe" to do so?

Finally, there have been a few comments along the lines of, "Don't blame Park Police for the bad policies of NPS." That's hogwash. Park Police are part of the NPS. They have a voice in both the policies that NPS eventually adopts and particularly the manner in which those policies are enforced. The crash was caused by a combination of excessive speed and negligent driving (as far as we know). Park Police should respond by enforcing laws that protect vulnerable road users. Instead, they seem to be responding by increasing the confusion and pulling over drivers who appear to be complying with the letter of the law.

This is unacceptable.

by ObliviousScout on Aug 2, 2011 4:46 pm • linkreport

@ObliviousScout:

Thanks for the well reasoned, and well written comment. You win the thread. Quick David, now close down the comments before @asuka can respond.

:)

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 4:53 pm • linkreport

This is ridiculous. It was ridiculous the first time a whole thread got hijacked by Charlie's insane, illegal rambling.

A car stopping for a crosswalk is either a hazard or it is not, whether a pedestrian is crossing, waiting, or even present. There is no functional difference in the contributory action on the part of the car driver.

by CJ on Aug 2, 2011 4:53 pm • linkreport

@GGW,

I respectfully submit that comments should be disabled for threads that become troll feeding grounds.

by CJ on Aug 2, 2011 4:55 pm • linkreport

I think you'll want to get together and talk to TGEoA about "Project GGGW" (I.E. http://greatergreatergreaterwashington.org)

by oboe on Aug 2, 2011 5:00 pm • linkreport

@Oboe

The editors at GGGW wouldn't have their pants around their ankles over a traffic ticket.

by TGEoA on Aug 2, 2011 5:38 pm • linkreport

The solution is simple:
- Reduce the speed limit 50 feet in front of pedestrian intersetions to 15 MPH.
- Put one of those signs that flash your speed at the by the 15MPH sign.
- Place a speed camera that fires at 16 MPH next to pedestrian cross walk.

by Smoke_Jaguar4 on Aug 2, 2011 5:43 pm • linkreport

@ charlie: What ObliviousScout said. Case closed.

@ Smoke_Jaguar4:
- Reduce the speed limit 50 feet in front of pedestrian intersetions to 15 MPH.

The speed limit actually goes from 45 to 25 right there. Nobody follows that, despite the confusion car split and merge that precedes the intersection. Virtually nobody follows the 30 mph on the bridge. There are few spots where the speed limit on the GW Parkway is 50. Only on the northern end, I think. Most places it is between 35-45.

- Put one of those signs that flash your speed at the by the 15MPH sign.
- Place a speed camera that fires at 16 MPH next to pedestrian cross walk.

That would be logical, but the NPS would argue it is desecration vistas of the Cemetery. Or some bullshit like that. Honoring the dead can not be disturbed by keeping people alive.

By the way, the trail is as much as commuter way as the parkway is. It is odd that car drivers like to be angry at the people reducing the traffic they're in... And imagine the rage that car drivers would show if some of their precious gas tax money was used to make this intersection safer...

by Jasper on Aug 2, 2011 8:17 pm • linkreport

@Max It is illegal to stop on the parkway unless required to do so by yielding or in an emergency. The cop was just giving a friendly reminder, and should have done the same to the pedestrian. Learn the damn law.

So, are you saying that because this is a parkway, these crosswalks aren't like crosswalks on a city street. I.e. that they don't come with the 'pedestrian has the right of way' deal like a city crosswalk. It would make sense for that to be the case given that this parkway was built as a motorway, and the recreational trails were an afterthought coming some half century after the motorway's opening. But is that sensical application of the laws codifid somewhere. Is there a law or reg somewhere saying that these crosswalk don't carry a 'pedestrian has a right of way' aspect to them?

by Lance on Aug 2, 2011 10:02 pm • linkreport

Kind of unrelated ... But I don't remember GGW having these sort of 'over the top' 'yellow journalism' headings back when I first started reading it. If I had, I don't think I would have read it ... never mind posted to it. But then again that was back when it was only David blogging here ... I suspect there can be a real danger to 'playing to the band' ...

by Lance on Aug 2, 2011 10:06 pm • linkreport

I'm interested how the headline is over the top. It describes the situation exactly. The situation itself is over the top but the headline isn't.

by Canaan on Aug 2, 2011 11:12 pm • linkreport

Yeah, what Canaan said.

What's wrong with the headline?

  • Park Police - they were indeed the law enforcement organization involved
  • hassle - they stopped a driver and criticized him; seems like a correct verb
  • driver - the person was driving a car at the time
  • who stops - his car had ceased moving
  • at GW Parkway crossing - that's where it happened

by David Alpert on Aug 2, 2011 11:16 pm • linkreport

I think Lance would have preferred:

"Park Police saves millions of lives every day!"

by JJJJJ on Aug 2, 2011 11:36 pm • linkreport

Just asking... are drivers legally required to stop for people in crosswalks in Virginia and/or on the parkway?

While the locations in question here are in DC, I just found something interesting. I'm looking at the new 2011 Virginia Supplement to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It specifically prohibits the use of the "Stop Here for Pedestrians" and "State Law Stop Here for Pedestrians" signs on the basis that Virginia law DOES NOT require a driver to stop. The federal standard allows the use of the "Stop Here for Pedestrians" signs (R1-5b and R1-5c signs) only if state law explicitly requires the driver to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk.

That surprised me, so I looked up the cited section of the Code of Virginia (46.2-924), which is linked at the end of this post. Interestingly, the Manual is correct: Virginia law requires a driver to "YIELD" the right-of-way to a pedestrian, which means you have to stop if necessary (but, for example, if the pedestrian is partway across the road but has not reached your side, you can keep going, or if you can change lanes and pass behind the pedestrian you can do that as well).

Certainly there are some crosswalks on large roads, especially roads where there is a median, where it's unreasonable to demand that motorized traffic stop for someone in the crosswalk on the far side (like on the other side of the median; I'm picturing a road like the Fairfax County Parkway). But at the crosswalks on the GW Parkway being discussed here--which I know perfectly well are not in Virginia, but they're a good example--not stopping seems foolish.

Here's the statute. The section title about "Drivers to stop" has no force of law--only the statute's text does.

http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504.exe?000+cod+46.2-924

by Rich on Aug 3, 2011 7:55 am • linkreport

Is this the same incident? Driver writes in about the experience:

http://bikearlingtonforum.com/showthread.php?1032-Crosswalks-on-the-GW-Parkway

by JDAntos on Aug 3, 2011 8:19 am • linkreport

@Rich: Yes, in Virginia your only obligation regarding pedestrians is to not hit them. Arlington's delegation to Richmond has tried to get this changed to a stop for pedestrians in crosswalks for roads with speed limits below a certain threshold, but it has been rejected numerous times.

Dillon rule state.

by Michael Perkins on Aug 3, 2011 8:43 am • linkreport

Interesting .... in the link above to the Arlington biking site, the cyclist admits that they're a journalist. AND that the plan us to write an article on this. Do I smell a set up? Is GGW taking its cues from Murdoch's tactics?

by Lance on Aug 3, 2011 9:08 am • linkreport

Holy crap, Lance!!! David identifies Andrew Beujon as a TBD reporter in the second paragraph. Of course you smell a set up. You always smell a set up. I have yet to see one of them pan out.

I'd say the comparison to Murdoch's tactics is out of line, but sadly it isn't even as bad as when you blamed a mother for the death of her child for the horrible sin of not owning a car.

by Tim Krepp on Aug 3, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

David, A couple years ago your heading for this story would have been more along the lines of:

"Who Actually Has the Right of Way at Pedestrian Crossings on the Parkway?"

i.e., It would have been more along the lines of something that would engender an honest discussion where participants with views on all sides could believe that the blogger was really interested in 'getting to the truth' of the matter ... and not out to just 'sell an agenda' as happens when the title clearly shows you already have a foregone conclusion. And the use of the word 'Hassle' is key in showing that you're not open minded about this situation ... or many others nowadays. I know it's hard to keep your own ideas and be open to those of others when you're surrounded by 'the choir' as was not the case a few years ago, but the value of GGW is in providing a forum where at least some degree of objectivity can be expected by the host, you the blogger. Headlines like this aren't the problem in and of themselves, but indicative of the underlying problem.

by Lance on Aug 3, 2011 9:24 am • linkreport

Aw Shucks ... poor Tim ... So, you don't like it when I use GGW's tactics on GGW? If imitation is considered the best flattery, then please consider my 9:24 post flattery.

by Lance on Aug 3, 2011 9:27 am • linkreport

Yes it is a set up just like how all of us who write or comment in favor of a particular building are actually in the employ of developers trying to get approval.

by Canaan on Aug 3, 2011 9:29 am • linkreport

@readers of GGW: I apologize. I know better than to feed the trolls. This is my fault.

by Tim Krepp on Aug 3, 2011 9:33 am • linkreport

@Lance

Actually, I believe it's BS question mark headlines like the one you posted that are the REAL Murdoch tactics. Post some question that has a really obvious answer, just to make people "think" about the issue.

If you want to comment on the actual issue at hand, you're free to do so, but a lot of us are sick and tired of you and others coming in here and condescendingly (I know it's hard...) lecturing about the fact that this blog has a point of view when that's the entire point. It's tiring.

by MLD on Aug 3, 2011 9:37 am • linkreport

You can argue if the policeman was "hassling" the driver. Because even the driver and the policeman would probably disagree about who was hassled. But then thats stupid because the only "neutral headline you could come up with would be "police stop driver on parkway for stopping on parkway". I still think most of most of us would still come up with the same conclusion. So the headline isn't indicative of any editorial slide if the conclusions stay the same. Clearly the law can be argued either way whether the driver was justified in stopping. Thats not the issue. The issue is whether drivers should be punished (and that includes being pulled over even w/o a ticket) for stopping because he wanted to make sure that someone can cross.

by Canaan on Aug 3, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Has anyone realized that Park Police were probably instructed to issue these warnings by their superiors? It's not like they don't know this intersection is problematic. One would assume they would look at code in consultation with their counsel and develop an enforcement plan.

However this enforcement is still a band aid solution at best. A HAWK study for this spot should be started ASAP.

by TGEOA on Aug 3, 2011 10:11 am • linkreport

I didn't know Park Police had such a reputation, but it makes sense. My car broke down on the Parkway last month and a Park Police officer pulled over to "help." He gave me a hard time and basically treated it like a traffic stop! He made a stressful situation even worse.

by LW on Aug 3, 2011 10:53 am • linkreport

@Lance wrote:

So, are you saying that because this is a parkway, these crosswalks aren't like crosswalks on a city street. I.e. that they don't come with the 'pedestrian has the right of way' deal like a city crosswalk. It would make sense for that to be the case given that this parkway was built as a motorway, and the recreational trails were an afterthought coming some half century after the motorway's opening.

THIS!

Frankly, I'm not surprised that it's taken Lance to really put his finger on the pulse of the crux of the matter. The situation is completely analogous to the way that horse, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic is privileged over motor vehicle traffic in historic urban centers like DC, NYC, or Boston.

We have a long tradition in this country of letting those who were "here first" dictate terms. Why should the Parkways be any different? If you Johnny-come-lately's want to cross the street, you'll just have to wait your turn--and by that I mean wait until the demise of the motor vehicle!

Potato Salad!

by Off Base Observations Elucidated on Aug 3, 2011 11:24 am • linkreport

@ Rich:Virginia law requires a driver to "YIELD" the right-of-way to a pedestrian, which means you have to stop if necessary (but, for example, if the pedestrian is partway across the road but has not reached your side, you can keep going, or if you can change lanes and pass behind the pedestrian you can do that as well).
@ Michael Perkins:Arlington's delegation to Richmond has tried to get this changed to a stop for pedestrians in crosswalks for roads with speed limits below a certain threshold, but it has been rejected numerous times.

Arlington is right to try and get this changed. It is incredibly unsafe that cars are allowed to hurl around you on multilane roads. Just try and cross US-29 or the GW Parkway in Rosslyn during rush hour. Those hurling cars swerving to miss you, but maintain speed are anything but a safe situation. Especially, since as a biker or pedestrian, you're never sure if they've seen you.

by Jasper on Aug 3, 2011 12:18 pm • linkreport

@Jasper,

Nonsense! This is perfectly safe. And, of course, by "perfectly safe" I'm using the US standard of "poses little threat to drivers."

(Which is also how we arrive at maximum safe speeds.)

:)

by oboe on Aug 3, 2011 12:22 pm • linkreport

The bill was introduced in 2010: http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2010/sb228/

Legislative history shows it passed the Senate but was killed in subcommittee. Since Virginia does not require recorded votes in subcommittee we do not know who is responsible.

Additional bill regarding unmarked crosswalks here:
http://www.richmondsunlight.com/bill/2010/hb459/fulltext/
This originated in the house and died there, also in unrecorded subcommittee vote.

by Michael Perkins on Aug 3, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

Isn't this why they built a tunnel under the parkway when they did all the work on the Humpback Bridge?

by jd on Aug 3, 2011 12:49 pm • linkreport

I'm curious to know how many motorists have been warned/ticketed by the Park Police for failure to stop when a pedestrian has a toe or a cyclist has a wheel in the crosswalk. It would surprise me if any motorist was ever stopped unless the pedestrian/cyclist was run over. I'd rather see the police enforce the speed limit and the yield-to-crosswalk-users law than encourage motorists to continue to disregard the crosswalks.

by GreyBear on Aug 3, 2011 4:04 pm • linkreport

Pedestrian/bicycle bridges and tunnels over and under the roadway would solve the problem nicely.

As it is, we have a road originally intended, designed, and built as a scenic drive/boulevard that has morphed into a de-facto freeway for a number of reasons, not the least of which is there's no where else for the freeway traffic to go. The fact that this "freeway" is ajecent to trails and parkland and crossable by walkers and bikers is a dangerous mix to say the least. It's a miracle lots pedestrians and bikers haven't been killed.

Seperate the cars from the walkers and bikers. Sure, some might say that's only giving in to "drivers who want to speed" and it very well might be, but it's the common-sense thing to do.

by ceefer66 on Aug 3, 2011 6:30 pm • linkreport

@ ceefer66:Sure, some might say that's only giving in to "drivers who want to speed" and it very well might be, but it's the common-sense thing to do.

It is not common-sense to give in to speeders. Speeders kill people.

by Jasper on Aug 3, 2011 8:25 pm • linkreport

If you notice on all NPS trails, there is a stop sign at the intersection of a roadway. It is for bicyclists.

TITLE 36--PARKS, FORESTS, AND PUBLIC PROPERTY
CHAPTER I--NATIONAL PARK SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
PART 4_VEHICLES AND TRAFFIC SAFETY--Table of Contents
Authority: 16 U.S.C. 1, 3, 9a, 462(k).

Sec. 4.1 Applicability and scope.

The applicability of the regulations in this part is described in Sec. 1.2 of this chapter. The regulations in this part also apply, regardless of land ownership, on all roadways and parking areas within a park area that are open to public traffic and that are under the legislative jurisdiction of the United States.

Sec. 4.2 State law applicable.
(a) Unless specifically addressed by regulations in this chapter, traffic and the use of vehicles within a park area are governed by State law. State law that is now or may later be in effect is adopted and made a part of the regulations in this part.
(b) Violating a provision of State law is prohibited.

Sec. 4.20 Right of way.
An operator of a motor vehicle shall yield the right of way to pedestrians, saddle and pack animals and vehicles drawn by animals. Failure to yield the right of way is prohibited.

Sec. 4.30 Bicycles.
...
(c) A person operating a bicycle is subject to all sections of this
part that apply to an operator of a motor vehicle, except Sec. Sec.
4.4, 4.10, 4.11 and 4.14.

by Sivad on Aug 4, 2011 12:07 am • linkreport

Well, if I am driving on GW Parkway, or RCP, or other roads, and I see a pedestrian, I am going to STOP. If the cop wants to lecture me, I will tell him to either charge me or let me go. I will happily see him in court to defend his ridiculous charge.

by SJE on Aug 4, 2011 8:34 am • linkreport

"Well, if I am driving on GW Parkway, or RCP, or other roads, and I see a pedestrian, I am going to STOP. If the cop wants to lecture me, I will tell him to either charge me or let me go. I will happily see him in court to defend his ridiculous charge."

If you think that's safe, I think that's great. However, there has already been one accident because of a motorist stopping for a pedestrian, and as David wrote, "this stems from the basic design of the area, which is optimized for high-speed traffic flow instead of to accommodate both drivers and people crossing alike." Risking an accident because you're trying to prove a point to the Park Police seems counterproductive. I likely will not stop unless there's very little or no other traffic. I am not confident that other drivers are going to be expecting a stop, and I'm unwilling to risk an accident. I realize that I'll be perpetuating bad driver behavior (although I will make a conscious effort to slow down) but that's as far as I'm willing to go until other drivers slow down as well.

by dcd on Aug 4, 2011 9:38 am • linkreport

@ dcd:I realize that I'll be perpetuating bad driver behavior

You will be. Worse, you will be breaking the law.

by Jasper on Aug 4, 2011 9:43 am • linkreport

@dcd: How about anticipating the crosswalk and slowing down enough that you, and the people behind you, could safely stop?

by David R. on Aug 4, 2011 9:53 am • linkreport

"You will be. Worse, you will be breaking the law."

Yes, I get that. But we routinely hear cyclist after cyclist assert that cyclists break laws because the existing laws don't make any sense, and it's actually less less safe to adhere to the letter of the law (e.g., Idaho stops, etc.) I don't mean that in a negative way - I completely agree, and let that theory govern my actions when I ride - safety is the paramount concern. How is this any different?

"How about anticipating the crosswalk and slowing down enough that you, and the people behind you, could safely stop?"

I thought that's what I said, but reading back I didn;t make myself clear. I will slow down, and if I feel like it's safe to stop, I will. If I don't feel it's safe, however, I don't think it's unreasonable to fail to stop.

by dcd on Aug 4, 2011 10:12 am • linkreport

we routinely hear cyclist after cyclist assert that cyclists break laws because the existing laws don't make any sense, and it's actually less less safe to adhere to the letter of the law (e.g., Idaho stops, etc.) I don't mean that in a negative way - I completely agree, and let that theory govern my actions when I ride - safety is the paramount concern. How is this any different?

It's different because you're transferring risk from the least vulnerable road user (i.e. the driver) to the most vulnerable road user (i.e. the pedestrian). You can pretend that speeding through crosswalks, and forcing pedestrians to play "Frogger" has no effect on pedestrian safety, but you'll probably want to make an argument to that effect, but then you'll have to explain why there are crosswalks in the first place.

That, to me at least, is violating the cardinal rule of both bicycling or just plain living. Very different. It's the equivalent of riding on the sidewalk at speed in congested areas because riding in the road is more dangerous. You're unfairly transferring risk to others--and breaking the law. Not cool.

by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

@ Oboe: Sorry, I have to disagree. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’re saying that if I’m driving on that stretch of road, where most cars routinely speed and rarely yield to pedestrians or cyclists in the crosswalk, I have an absolute obligation to stop, and should not exercise any discretion – at all – based on the volume and speed of traffic around me.

And let me be clear – I’m only talking about these few specific crosswalks on the GW Parkway, not the vast majority of them in the city and surrounding areas. I’ve changed my thinking and driving habits (on the rare occasions I do drive) a great deal since I started riding – when I first started reading GGW, I was very much of the “hey you kids, get off my lawn, and keep your toys in the yard” mindset. I’ve done a complete 180, and I like to think that my driving reflects that.

Someone with whom I generally agree once wrote on this blog:
“Cyclists--in general--don't break the law to piss off drivers (though auto driver vitriol is a mystery, other than perhaps free-floating anger at the commuting life), just as pedestrians don't break the law to piss of drivers--they break the law primarily to increase their own safety, and because of the distortions of auto-centric traffic design.”

In these very limited circumstances – auto-centric design of the Parkway, speeding cars, lack of expectation on the part of other drivers that a car will stop – I think the same rationale applies. There should be increased enforcement of speed limits, and a redesign of these intersections – and the Park Police should get their collective heads out of their collective asses. But expecting individual motorists to take the lead, buck the tide and start stopping against the expectations of other drivers when that creates a risk of a rear-end collision (which wouldn’t do the crossing pedestrian or cyclist any favors) seems to be asking a bit much.

(BTW, any guesses as to whom that quote should be attributed? :) )

by dcd on Aug 4, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

@dcd:

No fair!

[I]t seems like you’re saying that if I’m driving on that stretch of road, where most cars routinely speed and rarely yield to pedestrians or cyclists in the crosswalk, I have an absolute obligation to stop, and should not exercise any discretion – at all – based on the volume and speed of traffic around me.

No, fair enough. It seems like a classic collective action problem--one that needs to start with enforcement. Very frustrating, though.

by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 11:47 am • linkreport

@ dcd:But expecting individual motorists to take the lead, buck the tide and start stopping against the expectations of other drivers when that creates a risk of a rear-end collision (which wouldn’t do the crossing pedestrian or cyclist any favors) seems to be asking a bit much.

Why? Collective action has to start somewhere. You can start by not speeding yourself. I've stopped speeding (except on empty rural highways on trips longer than 2-3 hours). It's a delight. Yes, you piss of some drivers. F them. But on the whole, driving is much more relaxed. And I believe safer too. I end up in less difficult situations, because I have more time to react.

Just try it for once. Put your cruise control at the speed limit and let it go. And feel free to curse as hard at those speeders on your bumper as you used to curse at those slow drivers. Same aggression outlet.

The risks of speeding are just not worth the 2-3 minutes you arrive earlier.

Let me note that the speed limit on the GW parkway is not limited by the road design. I am pretty sure that it's pretty safe to go about 55 along all of the parkway - if it were empty. However, the speed limit is limited by the complexity of the parkway. The many on- and off ramps. The uneven terrain. And the many at grade pedestrian crossings.

by Jasper on Aug 4, 2011 12:15 pm • linkreport

@dcd I'd agree - drivers do need discretion about whether they can safely stop, though that discretion comes with a responsibility to slow down when a stop might be necessary.

@Jasper - I've taken to treating the speed limit as a hard limit within cities. The main effect's been that I spend less time waiting at lights and burn less gas when accelerating. And yes, it makes driving far more relaxing. People don't actually tailgate, for some reason.

by David R. on Aug 4, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

dcd: the choice is not just driving through a crosswalk versus a potential rear ending by the jerk behind me, it is a bent car versus a dead pedestrian. Sorry, but the life of the pedestrian counts.

by SJE on Aug 4, 2011 1:18 pm • linkreport

"dcd: the choice is not just driving through a crosswalk versus a potential rear ending by the jerk behind me, it is a bent car versus a dead pedestrian. Sorry, but the life of the pedestrian counts."

I thought it was understood that I (and any motorist who isn't, you know, insane) would take whatever measures necessary to avoid hitting a pedestrian, up to and including driving off the damn road. Do I really have to explicitly write it out?

OK, then: Of course, it goes without saying (or at least it should) that drivers should avoid hitting pedestrians at all costs. Feel better? Good grief.

(Although if you could point out where I gave even a hint that I'd choose running someone over as a viable option, I'd appreciate it.)

by dcd on Aug 4, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport

@Jasper

It is not common-sense to give in to speeders. Speeders kill people.
------------------

Especially when they are sharing a high-speed road with the occasional pedestrian or bike-rider who tries to cross the road. Big fun, especially at dawn or dusk; better yet in the dark.

So go ahead. Make a point. "It is not common-sense to give in to speeders", so leave things as they are. When someone is maimed or killed (God forbid), we can take comfort that we didn't "give in to speeders".

Whoo FNP!

by ceefer66 on Aug 4, 2011 2:32 pm • linkreport

So go ahead. Make a point. "It is not common-sense to give in to speeders", so leave things as they are. When someone is maimed or killed (God forbid), we can take comfort that we didn't "give in to speeders".

The big problem here is that drivers have no skin in the game. I'll trot out what I call the "cinder-block" solution to this problem:

Put a few day glo-orange cinder blocks on the side of the road here. We'll use reflective paint as well, because safety is paramount here.

When a pedestrian arrives at the crossing, they pick up the cinder block, look to make sure there are no cars withing, say, 100 yards of the intersection, then immediately proceed across the crosswalk.

If it looks like a driver is going to run them over--violating their ROW--the pedestrian should immediately drop their day glo orange cinder block in the middle of the roadway and scurry out of the way to safety.

This seems to me a pretty simple and effective solution to the problem.

by oboe on Aug 4, 2011 3:15 pm • linkreport

dcd: "I thought it was understood that I (and any motorist who isn't, you know, insane) would take whatever measures necessary to avoid hitting a pedestrian"

Everyone who isn't insane says that. But my point is directed to actual behavior. If your default is to continue as if there was no pedestrian, you will not have enough time to react if the pedestrian does cross as he has the legal right to do. When that happens, you place the pedestrian and you at risk trying to do a sudden high speed manouver or stop. That is a lot worse than slowing down and letting him cross.

by SJE on Aug 4, 2011 3:28 pm • linkreport

@oboe,

I just might try the cinderblock trick.

You outdid yourself with that one.

LMAO!

by ceefer66 on Aug 4, 2011 6:09 pm • linkreport

To follow up on my earlier comment: if you assume that you are going to blow through the cross walk, you have already made a decision that, if wrong, can only end in harm to the pedestrian.

by SJE on Aug 4, 2011 8:13 pm • linkreport

LOL
LOL
LOL
Love that cinder block idea...a true 'citizen solution'.

by Pelham1861 on Aug 5, 2011 1:11 pm • linkreport

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