The average rate of injuries to Alexandria’s pedestrians (which is currently at 75 hit by automobiles and 70 hit by cyclists) is starting to grow at an alarming rate. As a recent example, near the Whole Foods store on upper Duke Street, my business partner was hit by a car while traversing the crosswalk, all the while having the right to cross signal. This injury resulted in three cracked ribs and other assorted bruises. The responsible party was an Uber driver who was subsequently cited by the police. Ironically, the next day, I was in the Pitt at King crosswalk (with a green light), when a car to my right that had been stopped at the red light decided to go ahead, missing me by only a few feet.
Between the large number of errant automobile drivers, and the large cadre of arrogant and defiant bicyclists, it is becoming increasingly hazardous to drive, walk or cycle on any of our streets, especially in the already congested Old and Historic District. It is mystifying to me why Alexandria is persisting in the construction of two high speed bicycle “racetracks” for Cameron and Prince streets in this district.
Maybe it is time for the city staff to spend some time walking around and riding throughout the historic district to visualize the situation. Also, until this week, I seldom noted a police presence in the areas where I live and work. However, the new Chief of Police has apparently grabbed the bull by the horns, and has directed his officers to be more vigilant about ticketing those individuals who violate traffic laws. Hopefully, these actions will help to reduce some of the casualties to pedestrians on our streets.
Although the enhanced police presence is indeed most welcome news, I would also suggest that our 25 mile per hour (mph) speed limit in the Old and Historic District be reduced to 15 mph, and that the 35 mph speed limits on Route 1 and Washington Street also be reduced to 25 mph. These changes will give automobile drivers and cyclists some time to react to changing and unforeseen circumstances, and for pedestrians to get out of the way if they do not. We definitely need some emphasis on our traffic problems, or the next unfortunate victim could be you.
Townsend A. “Van” Van Fleet