In a continuing effort to raise awareness of pedestrian safety, units from the Mason Station were out in force on Little River Turnpike and Leesburg Pike during the evening rush hour last month. Locations for the operations were based on pedestrian enforcement crash data: pedestrians were struck and killed within the past several weeks on both roadways.
I rode along with Mason District Police Commander David Smith one evening, and observed many dangerous pedestrian, and driver, activities. One pedestrian was counseled in the middle of Leesburg Pike near Seven Corners. He had crossed two lanes of traffic and was walking east in the middle of the road, wearing dark clothes, apparently looking for a break in the traffic so he could cross the other two lanes. The cruiser’s flashing blue lights called attention to the pedestrian and other traffic as Captain Smith approached to counsel the man about safe crossings. Then, to ensure safety and avoid a crash, Captain Smith stopped traffic and escorted the man across the other two lanes. Hopefully, he got the message.
In Culmore, a mother with a baby stroller and two school-age children was trying to cross Glen Carlyn Drive about midway from the signal at Leesburg Pike. Again, Captain Smith stopped, with cruiser lights flashing, and encouraged the mother to walk another 60 feet or so to the signalized crosswalk. While we waited for the signal to change, she walked her children to the corner, crossed with the pedestrian light, and was last seen walking west on the sidewalk, safe and out of harm’s way. Captain Smith and I both remarked what a lesson that probably was to her children!
Among the worst offenses we saw were bus riders alighting from the bus and, instead of walking to a corner, trying to cross busy Leesburg Pike where the bus had stopped. Fortunately, several officers from the bike team were patrolling the area, and every bus rider walked away with a flyer about pedestrian safety, and a cautionary comment from the officers.
Exacerbating the problem was the fact that nearly every pedestrian was wearing dark clothing, head to toe, making them almost invisible to passersby, including the police. One of the helpful flyers reminds pedestrians and cyclists to BE VISIBLE. Wearing bright colored clothing, or reflective fabric, and using flashlights or bike lights helps you to see and be seen. Visibility = safety, notes Drive Smart Virginia. Similarly, use your headlights when driving. We saw a number of vehicles driving in the dark without headlights. Please, turn on your headlights when you get into the car in the evening. Make it automatic, and you won’t add to the danger. Let’s all be safe, and no more sad calls to notify next-of-kin in a pedestrian crash.
The 19th annual Mason District Holiday Town Gathering will be next Monday, December 8, beginning at 7 p.m., at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. We’ll have live musical entertainment, refreshments, door prize drawings, and a review of the past year in Mason District. The whole family is welcome!
Penny Gross is the Mason District Supervisor, in the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. She may be emailed at [email protected]