Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

prenny-fcnpParking and speeding on residential streets continue to vex neighbors in many parts of Mason District and Fairfax County, and my office works with many neighborhoods to address these problems via police enforcement and traffic calming programs. Most of us think of ourselves as good drivers and believe we observe all the rules of the road. But do we? Here is a short refresher about traffic and parking laws in Fairfax County.

First of all, whether posted or not, the speed on most residential streets is 25 mph. In some cases, especially where speed humps or speed tables are installed, the posted, and recommended, speed over the device is 15 mph. If you drive over one at a higher speed, you quickly will understand why. Speed limits on primary roads, such as Columbia Pike, and minor arterial roads, such as Sleepy Hollow Road, are a bit higher, but generally not more than 45 mph. Improperly passing a vehicle on the right is subject to a fine, processing fee, and points on your driving record. Failure to stop and yield when approaching an intersection controlled by a stop sign will get you four points on your driving record, and a similar fine and processing fee. When I learned to drive, the rule was that all forward motion of the vehicle had to cease to be considered a full stop. I’ve lost track of the times drivers behind me have sounded their horn because I came to a full stop, but that doesn’t deter me from applying the lessons I learned long ago. Running a stop sign may not be as deadly as running a red light, but it’s all illegal!

Parking rules haven’t changed much over the years. It still is illegal to park too close to a driveway (even your own), a stop sign, fire hydrant, or crosswalk. Driveway restrictions are 10 feet on each side of the driveway; 30 feet from a stop sign; 20 feet from an intersection; 15 feet from a fire hydrant, and 20 feet from a crosswalk. These are common sense rules that improve sight lines for drivers and pedestrians alike.

Parking on the “wrong” side of the street also is illegal, subject to ticketing and that pesky processing fee. Vehicles must park facing the direction of the travel lane, right wheels (passenger side) to the curb. On a one-way street, however, vehicles may park on either side in the proper travel direction, unless otherwise prohibited. Parking on the “wrong” side of the street has become endemic in some neighborhoods, but the rationale for the law makes perfect sense: parking illegally forces the driver to cross against traffic to get to the correct travel lane, like driving the wrong way on a one-way street. Please don’t do it. Everyone benefits when we all pay a little more attention to our own driving habits.

If you noticed last weekend that your American flag was a little weather-worn, you can dispose of it correctly by dropping it off at the Mason District Governmental Center or American Legion Post 1976 in Annandale. Volunteers will arrange for proper disposal in a dignified manner recommended by Congress.


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


  • Penny Gross

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