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Watch for Pedestrians, Pets AND Bicycles at Trail Crossings

8 comments

Having run, biked and driven past the W&OD Trail crossing at Sterling Park Drive, Herndon bike injury lawyer has seen a number of "near misses" at this location. A Sterling Park Virginia bike accident results in the biker getting crushed and then getting a ticket, despite being waved on by at least one car driver. The local biker contacted Abrams Landau after being struck by a car in Sterling Virginia and being issued a Traffic Court Summons at the hospital. Member of the Landau Law Shop sports injury team had heard of other cyclists and pedestrians receiving their citations at the hospital, but it always strikes Herndon lawyer Doug landau as "adding insult to injury," especially where permanent injuries and disability are likely. In this case, as the local biker was headed West on the W&OD Trail from Herndon toward Sterling Virginia, he came to Sterling Virginia and then two lanes of motor vehicles heading South toward Route 28 (Sully Road) in Loudoun County.

There was no traffic in the first two lanes, so the cyclist crossed safely to he center grass and paved strip. the car in the first Southbound lane stopped and waved him and another cyclist to proceed. The other cyclist proceeded safely to get back on the W&OD Trail, however the local biker was struck broadside in the 4th lane by a car that never saw the athlete or his bicycle. The local cyclist was taken to the emergency room after this "T-bone" crash with fractures, lacerations and permanent injuries and scarring. However, the police officer charged the biker. Citing the lack of certain reflectors; lights during the evening ride and failure to wait for both lanes of Southbound traffic to stop and signal that it was safe to proceed, the Virginia law enforcement authorities charged the bike rider after the crash.

The lesson to be learned is that a cyclist should make sure that ALL lanes are clear before leaving the island or safety of the median strip. If you are not waived through and making eye contact, then think twice about cycling across the road. Just because you are following the W&OD Trail, it does NOT mean you have the right of way or superior rights when crossing the lanes of motorized traffic. Your bicycle commuting time, training ride or recreational spin make take longer, but your odds of returning safely should be your primary focus. Be alert, be smart and cycle safely.

8 Comments

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  1. Tom says:
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    Sterling Park Drive? I don’t believe there is a W&OD road crossing by that name. Do you mean S. Sterling Blvd?

  2. Bruce Wright says:
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    I believe the speed limit at this intersection is greater than 35mph which is likely a factor in the cyclist being cited. It is my understanding that if the speed limit were 35mph or less the motorist has an obligation to yield to the cyclist.

    My mantra when crossing this type of intersection is “one lane at a time.” Never enter a lane without knowing that oncoming motorists will stop.

  3. Allen Muchnick says:
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    This type of crosswalk crash is all too common. Those crossing the roadway can best prevent such crashes by not entering the roadway or leaving the median refuge until vehicles are clearly stopped in ALL relevant lanes.

    If the bicycle lacked the required white headlight and red rear reflector after dark, the bicyclist deserved to be cited for failing to meet that requirement. Otherwise, the motorist might have been charged with failure to yield to a visible person in a clearly marked crosswalk with plenty of warning signs and pavement markings, including the novel zig-zag lines.

  4. Doug Landau says:
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    Tom: You’re correct. My wife used to teach at “Capitol Courts,” before it became Phoenix Fitness and now World or Olympus Gym on Glenn Drive, and I mixed up the name o the road off Sully/Route 28 that we used to take to get there (& to the Friendly’s afterwards !). Thanks for the catch.

  5. Doug Landau says:
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    Bruce: Not to keep harping on my “better half,” but if memory serves, the speed limit changes on Sterling Blvd. & the police catch motorists who see the HIGHER number ahead but are still in the “Zone” with the lower allowable speed. She took her case from General District Court to the Circuit Court, where Judge Chamblin affirmed the lower court’s conviction !

  6. napes says:
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    I certainly hope the driver that hit the individual in a crosswalk was cited for reckless driving. Passing cars stopped for pedestrians at a crosswalk exactly matches an example of reckless driving in the Fairfax County Code, and surely appears to be “in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” http://leg1.state.va.us/000/cod/46.2-852.HTM

    This is one of a number of dangerous crossings on the WO&D, since fewer drivers seem yield to pedestrians at multi-lane crosswalks in the first place. Virginia legislators have not specifically include a prohibition on passing vehicles stopped for pedestrians at crosswalks, but maybe Virginia law needs to be changed to make the issue crystal clear state-wide. Several states have specific language in their law, for example this is from Florida, with additional commentary from the Florida Department of Transportation.

    “When a vehicle is stopped at a crosswalk to permit a pedestrian to cross the roadway, the driver of any other vehicle approaching from the rear shall not overtake and pass such stopped vehicle [§316.130(9)]. This is a critical provision for pedestrian safety. When one driver stops to let a pedestrian cross, the stopped vehicle may screen the pedestrian from the view of an approaching driver-and also screen the approaching vehicle from the pedestrian’s view. The law therefore requires a driver approaching a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk from the rear to assume that a pedestrian may be crossing, even when none can be seen at the moment. A violation of this rule can cause serious injury because the overtaking driver is traveling at speed. (To reduce this risk, seasoned pedestrians pause at the outside edge of any “screen”.)” (http://www.dot.state.fl.us/safety/ped_bike/handbooks_and_research/ped16_e.pdf)

    Virginia law does not specifically include a prohibition on passing vehicles in crosswalks, although counties may. Here for example are examples of reckless driving from Fairfax County Code, which specifically mentions not passing vehicles while pedestrians are passing in front.

    “Section 82-4-2. – Reckless driving; specific instances. . . .
    “5. Overtake or pass any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any steam, diesel or electric railway grade crossing or at any intersection of streets or highways unless such vehicles are being operated on a highway having two (2) or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or unless such intersection is designated and marked as a passing zone pursuant to the provisions of Code of Virginia, Section 46.2-830 and Section 46.2-803 or on a designated one-way street or highway, or while pedestrians are passing or about to pass in front of either of such vehicles, unless permitted so to do by a traffic light or police officers”

  7. Doug Landau says:
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    Dear NAPES,
    Excellent points. Frankly, there should be uniformity in the laws regarding overtaking a vehicle that has stopped for pedestrians, strollers, cyclists, motorized wheelchairs, etc. that are lawfully in the crosswalk. When the vehicle’s brake lights are “ON” and there is not an overhead traffic light (or other signal), trailing cars and trucks should not see this as an opportunity to “get the jump” on the other drivers. When they do, disaster in the form of injuries often results. In “Defensive Drivings” courses, in addition to “anticipating other drivers’ actions,” there should be greater emphasis on “sharing the road.”

  8. Laura says:
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    Part of the problem at that intersection is that vehicle traffic frequently stops despite the fact that there are no stop signs or traffic lights where the W&OD trail crosses the road. If I am not mistaken, I believe there are stop signs for the users of the trail; suggesting the cyclists remain where they are until there is no threat of motorists.

    Is there anything in the Virginia Code stating that vehicle traffic stop in the middle of a very busy road for the cyclists? I fear that one day a motorist will stop at the cross walk and the person behind will not be anticipating the stop, hitting the car, pushing it into the cyclist.

    My point is that there is not, nor has never been any indication for vehicle traffic to stop, dead in its tracks to allow people cross Sterling Blvd.
    Many a time, particularly in the summer when traffic on the Trail is heavy, cars are honking at each other for stopping. I have also been cursed by a biker for not stopping…