Local Commentary

Letters to the Editor: March 14 – 20, 2013

 To Make Broad Walkable, We Need a New Stop Light


Let me propose a critical next step in the ongoing effort to make Falls Church City’s downtown a genuinely pedestrian-friendly environment: we must demand a traffic light, and two wide, well-marked, pedestrian-friendly crosswalks, at the intersection of Broad St. and Pennsylvania Ave (next to the Panera).

Why is this so important? Let me reframe the question: why is this so necessary and so urgent? The current “block” is excessively long for pedestrians (around 1,600 ft per Google maps). This block is clearly designed for cars, not people. There is no light, and no opportunity to cross the intense traffic on Broad St, for the entire distance between Virginia Ave (at the Exxon station) and Lee St. (at the Burger King). That is a significant distance for a pedestrian, and it actively impedes the ability of those of us who live south of Broad to access Mad Fox and the rest of the great new shops in that center.

I walk that block daily, and daily struggle with the challenge of being a pedestrian in an environment designed for cars. But it’s more than encouraging pedestrian activity – in the current paradigm, it’s only a matter of time until this neglect of pedestrian needs results in more fatalities. Already one elderly man has been killed there while attempting to cross without the aid of a light. I have personally witnessed countless near misses, including two women pushing a baby in a stroller (last week), a man on a walker (this past fall), and countless other citizens who are trying bravely, and with inadequate support from the built environment, to do the most normal thing I can imagine – walk around our city.

A new traffic light at  Pennsylvania and Broad, creating a new block of about 1,200 ft., would give us pedestrians a fighting chance.

Diane Bartley

Falls Church


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