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Richmond Highway Still Unsafe To Cross

Pedestrian killed while crossing Route 1.

Another pedestrian hit and killed. The 37th traffic fatality in Fairfax County.

These statistics have focused efforts to incorporate safer crossings for pedestrians. Those efforts haven’t come quickly enough for Marcus Bigsby, a 25-year-old man of Eaton Woods Place in the Lorton area, who was struck and fatally injured while crossing Richmond Highway near the Lorton Library.

According to police reports, he was running across the southbound lanes of Richmond Highway near Fernedge Lane on Monday, Aug. 30, around 8:30 p.m. As he approached the middle of the road, Bigsby was struck by a 1992 Toyota 4-Runner, which was southbound in the left lane of Richmond Highway. The Toyota was operated by Marlon Sanchez, of the 3400 block of Carlyn Hill Drive in the Baileys Crossroads area. Bigsby was knocked into the left northbound lane of Richmond Highway.

While lying on the ground, Bigsby was struck twice by vehicles traveling north in the left lane. The first vehicle was a 2000 Ford Contour operated by Mozelle Henry of the 6000 block of River Road in the Lorton area. The second vehicle was a 2004 Suzuki Forensa, operated by Randy Bare of the 9500 block of Farrell Road in Fort Belvoir. Bigsby was medevaced to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he later died.

The police report stated that alcohol and speed do not appear to be a factor in the crash. No charges have been made at this time, but the investigation continues.

Lee District Supervisor Dana Kauffman said, “It’s a tragedy. We’ve seen a lessening of pedestrian fatalities, but any fatality is too many.”

Kauffman said that this particular area was between two signalized intersections, so the person did have a chance to get to a crosswalk.

“We try to locate signals where people cross,” Kauffman said, although most of the foot traffic that they had seen had been confined within the complex of Fernedge Lane and Hagel Circle both located on the same side of Route 1; he is not sure if this crossing of Route 1 is an aberration.

Kauffman believes that the Sept. 26 roll-out of the Express Bus Service will help since it recognizes that “passengers are pedestrians,” and will include improved walkways, shelters and improved crossings.

BOB BRUBAKER, director of Metroped, an organization devoted to "addressing public policy impediments to pedestrian fitness and transit in metropolitan areas," did not have enough information to comment specifically on this latest death. He did, however, say that since they held the Walkable Community Workshop in the spring, that “things are starting — they’ve just been moving very slow.”

The workshop talked about all the things to look for in pedestrian safety. “All the right people were there, and since that time, Earl Flanagan and others have taken the information and pitched it at other county functions,” said Brubaker, who is pushing for more medians as a short-term solution.

“Studies have found that more accidents occur in four-lane areas with no median than in six-lane roads with a median,” Brubaker said.

The area where Bigsby was killed was four lanes. A crosswalk was a short distance away, at the intersection of Armistead and Richmond Highway, where the Lorton Library is located. Brubaker said that crosswalks are not necessarily safer, because drivers are distracted by cell phones and other things. Brubaker said that walkers sometimes choose to cross where there is a better line of sight — this did not appear to be the case in the area where Bigsby crossed.

ONE OF THE PROJECTS encompassed by Metroped is “Safe Crossing,” a Pedestrian Advocacy Group located in Fairfax County. Dave Lyons, a retired firefighter with Fairfax County Fire & Rescue Department, spearheaded the group whose goal was to “provide assistance to citizens who need help petitioning their legislators for improvements to roads that are unsafe for pedestrians and bicyclists to walk along, to ride on, and to cross.”

Their first assistance project was the stretch of Richmond Highway (U.S. Route 1), that bisects the Mount Vernon and Lee District and runs between Alexandria and the Fairfax Annex in Fort Belvoir. It was as a result of Metroped/Safecrossings-based testimony at Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) that the subject segment of U.S. Route 1 was considered as a candidate location for the Walkable Communities Workshops.

Brubaker said that Metroped continues to work on implementing pedestrian safety and encourages people to visit their Web site, www.metroped.org.