Local Commentary

A Penny for Your Thoughts: News of Greater Falls Church

Pedestrians and vehicles don’t mix — especially at night. That is the lesson repeated at least twice in the past week, when a 93-year-old pedestrian, Pericles Apostolou, was struck and killed by a hit and run driver on Arlington Boulevard. Just days later, 53-year-old Josef Holzer, walking along Seminary Road in the city of Alexandria, was struck and killed by a driver who remained on the scene. Both incidents happened on busy roadways, after dark, but investigations as to specific causes still are underway, and families and friends of the victims are grief-stricken.

These tragedies remind us once again of the fragility of life, and the need to be vigilant, both as pedestrians and drivers, to our surroundings at all times. Darkness comes early in the winter, affecting visibility, even with headlights on. Drivers must pay special attention to their speeds, and pedestrians must remember that, just because you can see headlights coming, it doesn’t mean that the driver can see you. Winter clothing often is dark-colored, so wearing something light-colored or reflective when you are walking can help you be seen more clearly by passing traffic.

Quite often, vehicle-pedestrian crashes happen when the pedestrian is not using a marked crosswalk, or is crossing against the light. But a simple error should not cost one’s life. Not all intersections in Fairfax County are marked for safe pedestrian crossings, but, gradually, more improvements are being installed with funding from transportation bond referenda, and more are planned. The lessons we learned as children — wear white at night, use marked crosswalks and cross only with the light, not against it — still are relevant. If there is no sidewalk or trail, walk facing traffic. A neighbor always carries a flashlight when he walks his dogs after dark. It’s just a small light, but enough to catch a driver’s eye and give him a wide berth. In our hustle-bustle world, it is up to each one of us to pay attention to what we are doing, whether walking or driving. Death notifications are among the hardest tasks that police officers have to undertake. No more pedestrian deaths is a good start.

A 50+ Community Survey for Fairfax County and the cities of Fairfax and Falls Church will launch in February. The random scientific survey will assess the local lifestyles, community perceptions, and access that people 50 and older have to the things they need to age the way they want to age. (Better pedestrian connections, maybe?) If you receive a paper questionnaire in the mail, please complete the survey and pop it back into the mail. Or use the website that will be included in the survey packet. The survey is anonymous, and the findings will be released to the public in the spring.

The rescheduled public information meeting about unmanned aircraft (drones) use in Fairfax County will be held on Monday, Feb. 4, at the Mason District Governmental Center, 6507 Columbia Pike in Annandale. The meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m., with a display of drones, followed by a presentation outlining the program, and a question and answer session with county public safety representatives.


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