The Alexandria city manager’s response to my letter of Oct. 27 regarding “traffic lawlessness” in Alexandria is with all due respect, beyond the pale. My fellow residents agree that Alexandria appears not to enforce or care about traffic laws. I find it amusing that the city manager or his staff continually cites education as a chief component of traffic safety. How much education does it take for knowing one should stop at a stop sign? This fact is covered in high school drivers ed class. The failure to stop has produced tragic results in some instances.
I recently sent a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the Alexandria government concerning the number of citations and warnings issued for stop sign violators in the last year, but these statistics are not readily available, and they would cost me $500 for a such a search. However, the Alexandria Fire Department study of April 2016 provides the number of pedestrian and bicycle crashes per annum. These statistics were based upon the dispatching of ambulances to an accident location. I regret to say that over the past eight years, there is a yearly average of 70 pedestrians struck by vehicles, and 65 bicycle crashes. These are not insignificant statistics.
Although Alexandria views itself as a dog-friendly city, a failure to stop at a stop sign recently took the life of a beloved dog of a former elected official. Moreover, bicycles whizzing by stop signs on Union Street are a constant danger to our leashed furry friends. A few years ago, while crossing Union Street at a crosswalk, the wife of a former Alexandria resident was rudely advised by a bicyclist to get out of the way, lest her dog get run over in the crosswalk. (What happened to stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalks?) It appears that we have little regard for life in all of its forms when the basic traffic rules are ignored.
All of the engineering solutions in the world pursued by the Police Department and the city staff do not replace cops on the streets who enforce basic traffic laws. I would recommend that the manager and the council members take some time to observe the traffic on our streets with new eyes. I am sure that if they do, that they will also conclude that there is little to no enforcement of the traffic laws.
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet