There are two opportunities this week to speak in favor of positive moves by VDOT and Fairfax County that will make walking and biking safer and more convenient.
Last week I joined the Gum Springs community demanding a safer Richmond Highway. The coffin included in the protest is dramatic, but captures just how dangerous our roads are. Fairfax County continues to experience high rates of pedestrian and bicyclist fatalities and serious injuries with 10 people killed already this year.
Higher speeds and wide roads that prioritize cars over people have led to rising pedestrian crashes and fatalities. Four people have been struck and killed along the Richmond Highway corridor already in 2020, the latest just a couple weeks ago.
Thanks to advocacy by CSG and local partners, VDOT is considering reducing the speed limit but we need your help to make sure it happens. Reducing the speed limit 10 mph increases the chances of surviving a crash by 40%. Would you take a moment to send an email to VDOT and Fairfax County showing support for lowering the speed limit to 35mph and redesigning the road to make it safer for people to walk, bike, and take transit?
Pedestrian deaths increased by 10% in Virginia from 2018 to 2019 alone, many of them on wide high-speed arterials like Richmond Highway. Smart Growth America’s report Dangerous by Design finds that older adults and people of color are disproportionately represented among pedestrian deaths, primarily because of the high-speed arterials that divide communities like those along Richmond Highway.
VDOT’s own 2018 Pedestrian Safety Action Plan identified Richmond Highway in Fairfax as one of the state’s priority crash corridors and proposed safety improvements. Between 2011-2016, the crash rate along Richmond Highway was 60% higher than the state average. We can’t wait any longer!
Tell VDOT and Fairfax County to:
- Lower the speed limit to a safer 35 mph ASAP
- Provide immediate safety improvements along the corridor
- Reconsider the widening plans to physically design the road for 35 mph
Physically designing the roadway for 35 mph by narrowing travel lanes would help reduce speeding, allow for smaller buffers within the right of way, and minimize the crossing distances for pedestrians.
And there are other benefits: A 35 mph speed limit potentially eliminates the need for sound walls, further reducing the extent of the widening and getting rid of physical barriers that cut off neighborhoods. Money saved by buying less right-of-way and not building sound walls could go toward the cost of undergrounding unsightly overhead power lines, which also helps make room for bigger shade trees.
A safer roadway will not only reduce the tragic deaths and serious injuries to residents, it will ensure Fairfax achieves the vibrant, transit-oriented economic development the county and community desire for the corridor.