To the Editor:
While reading of Mr. Farooq's tale in the Gazette's "Safety at a Crossroads" article, I could not help but nod my head in assent every few lines. Living and working in the Mount Vernon community, the lack of sidewalks has always troubled me. Not only are the areas around Janna Lee Avenue and Ladson Lane extremely dangerous, but many wide swaths of the Richmond Highway corridor are lacking pedestrian paths (and no, eroded paths do not count).
While looking at the map of fatalities, it is not surprising to anyone with a modicum of intellectual honesty: yes, they are all concentrated in the poorer parts of the corridor. I will say, however, that the crosswalks that are in place are underutilized, and I lay some of the blame on the Mount Vernon district of the Fairfax County Police Department. If FCPD were properly ticketing jaywalkers with an increased foot patrol, it could greatly cut down on pedestrian accidents and fatalities (while simultaneously generating revenues, which we all know Fairfax County is always hungry for).
There is no excuse for pedestrians who choose to ignore traffic and safety laws, though: running across three to four lanes of traffic to catch a Fairfax Connector bus is not prudent in any estimation of mine, and this is a common, daily occurrence. Ms. Ford's apathy concerning both the legality of illegal crossings and other residents' safety ("I'm not going to go out of my way to go through the crosswalk. I'm going to cross … people die.") speaks volumes to the attitude adjustment that needs to take place in the community. Again, FCPD needs to do a better job deterring illegal and/or unsafe crossings; I have yet to see a ticket issued to anyone, and I walk to and from work many days during the week.
With the "economic revitalization" that is taking place in the area, hopefully this is a matter that can be remedied in the near future; I am not optimistic however, as the lack of community activism coupled with the economically disadvantaged's lack of political clout will make it difficult to get the message out.
In case anyone has forgotten the basics concerning crossing the street while maintaining their lives: look left, right, and left again before crossing. It could save your live, wallet, or both.