Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church


Fairfax County is blessed to be a very safe community, one of the safest of our size in the nation. Our low crime rates are envied by other jurisdictions, but two issues – traffic and parking – raise concerns in some neighborhoods. When motorists insist on travelling too fast for local speed limits, or don’t care where and how they park, neighbors rightly complain, to each other and to their local officials. The easy way, of course, is to slow down, stop at stop signs, park according to the law, and pay attention to your driving. Failing that, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) administer several programs designed to address such neighborhood issues.

The proliferation of speed humps in neighborhoods is emblematic of neighbors coming together to address the speed of traffic on their local streets via the Traffic Calming program. The process begins with a request to the District Supervisor from the civic or homeowner association. FCDOT then conducts traffic counts and a speed survey to determine if the road qualifies; if so, a conceptual traffic calming plan is prepared by FCDOT and presented to a neighborhood task force which, in turn, will conduct a community meeting to discuss the proposal. Affected residents, as determined by a map provided by FCDOT, are invited to vote by written ballot to approve, or deny, the proposed plan. If the vote is approval, the plan moves to the Board of Supervisors for ratification. Once ratified, FCDOT schedules the roadway for installation of traffic calming devices, often speed humps.

Speed humps are self-enforcing; motorists must slow down to avoid unwelcome jolts and possible damage to their vehicles. In England, speed humps also are called “sleeping policemen” and their efficacy is readily apparent. Speed humps are not designed to limit traffic, only the speeds at which traffic travels. The speed limit on most local neighborhood streets is 25 mph. The public roadway still is available to the traveling public, unless otherwise restricted because of size or weight.

In recent years, neighborhood streets are handling a larger number of parked vehicles. Today’s residents may have one car per person rather than one car per family, overflowing the shallow driveways in older neighborhoods. Generally, unless otherwise restricted by signage, weight, or distance from a fire hydrant, driveway, or intersection, any legally registered and licensed vehicle may park on the public right-of-way. To address consistent overparking by non-resident vehicles, neighbors may petition to create a Residential Permit Parking District (RPPD) in designated blocks. An RPPD request goes through a similar public process to gather community support before having a public hearing before the Board of Supervisors. If approved, “No Parking Except by Permit” signs will be installed, and residents must obtain a permit for each vehicle registered at their address.

More information about traffic or parking issues addressed by the Residential Traffic Administration Program is available online at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/FCDOT. You also may contact my office at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov, or call 703/256-7717.


 Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at mason@fairfaxcounty.gov.