Monday, April 08, 2013

Rapid Flashing Beacons on the W&OD

Partnerships is the name of the game, particularly when your job includes a super popular 45 mile trail that goes through 3 Counties, 2 Towns, and 1 City. The trail is the W&OD Trail, which sees over 2 million uses a year.

Recently safety was just improved at Blemont Ridge Road in Ashburn. VDOT just installed a new technology to improve pedestrian safety that is called "Rectangular Rapid-Flashing Beacons." Below are some guidelines for both trail users and drivers as they approach these flashing beacons. We greatly appreciate the innovative approach VDOT has brought to this challenging intersection, and we also thank the Transportation Office of Loudoun County that has worked with VDOT and the Northern Virgina Regional Park Authority to implement these new beacons.

Trail users:

Press the push button to activate the flashing lights. Cyclists usually can press the buttons without dismounting, and they are within convenient reach of pedestrians as well. Studies from other areas have shown that drivers yield to trail users as much as four times as often when lights flash only “on demand”.

• Trail users should continue to wait for a safe gap in traffic before proceeding across the road. The flashing lights do not guarantee that motorists will stop.

For drivers:

• When the lights are flashing, drivers can be sure a trail user is nearby, and they should be prepared to yield or encounter stopped vehicles as they approach the crosswalk.

• Not all trail users will press the button to activate the flashers, so motorists should continue to be alert as they approach the crossing even when the lights are not flashing.

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