The pedestrian crossing problem in Mount Vernon needs to be solved.
The other day I was travelling north on Route One near the old Mount Vernon Cinema when I almost hit a woman who ran right in front of my car. Out of nowhere, she just dashed across the road to get to the east side of the street. Totally ignored the crosswalk. She got across unscathed and as I looked in my rearview mirror, I noticed she had been running to catch the REX bus.
At that same location, it’s routine to see kids darting across as they come from the 7-11 to go over to the apartment complex. Sure, they could walk up about 20 yards to the crosswalk, wait for that extremely long light (which, by the way folks, does not respond when you constantly press those silly crosswalk buttons) and then walk across. But, no, for the most part they do what I would do and that is to make a bee line to my destination. I know it’s wrong and against the law, but it’s also human nature.
These scenarios play out constantly on Route One and I know there have been a number of proposals, plans, etc. that would theoretically make it safer to cross the street. But, let’s face it, any worthwhile solution will cost millions of dollars, which we don’t have, and it still might not be effective. It’s a sad fact of life, as we saw just last week when yet another person was hit crossing Route One at Lockheed Blvd. (he eventually died), but people are always gonna play chicken with the traffic. If anyone has a great idea, share it but I just am not convinced that government can totally stop the problem.
And, speaking of government, there are times when I cannot figure out what VDOT is doing about this problem. Take, for example, that big, obnoxious sign as you are driving north on Route One right in front of the Knights of Columbus Hall. This sign says “Watch for Pedestrians” and has two flashing lights. Pilots landing at Reagan airport tell me they can read the sign upon approach. And if you are traveling south, there is a similar sign in front of the Jiffy Lube, across the street from the new 24 Hour Laundromat that we’re so excited about.
The problem with these signs is that there is no crosswalk there so people aren’t supposed to cross there in the first place. But I guarantee you that someone —perhaps a person who does not read English and who interprets the sign to mean that the cars will stop for them — is gonna get killed late one as they come from the Sky View Apartments to do their laundry. Indeed, I remember when I was at Supervisor Hyland’s office, these two signs just went up with no warning and I wonder if our state representatives were told in advance as well? It’s as if VDOT is a country unto itself.
Anyway, I’m open to suggestions. No one wants to see anyone injured or killed. Sure, we could hope that people will just get smarter and take the safe route. But that ain’t gonna happen. And I don’t know if government has the answer. Indeed, the whole issue of crosswalks is generally rather confusing to many people and I’ll be you more than half of the drivers out there don’t know what the law is when they see those white markings going across the street.
There’s got to be a better way.