Health and Safety

Photo: pedestrian signalPersonal safety is often one of the greatest concerns for walkers. Although walking has great health benefits, some people will avoid walking out of fear that it is too dangerous. A close brush with a speeding auto or a slip on an icy sidewalk can ruin the sense of safety that pedestrians usually enjoy.

Walkers can play a role in their own safety and health by following these Tips for Safe Walking, advice on walking in all seasons, and suggestions for sharing Arlington's Multi-Use Trails with bicyclists and other users.

Whether sidewalks, trails, or crosswalks, the walking environment and infrastructure are also key ingredients for pedestrian safety.

Improving safety is a cornerstone of County pedestrian programs, from building wide, well-lit sidewalks that are free of tripping hazards and obstacles, to reducing the risks posed by automobiles through "traffic calming" and wayfinding signs, and ensuring that school children have safe, accessible routes to neighborhood schools.  Pedestrian safety also includes educational programs like Street Smart and local and regional law enforcement efforts.

Creating a Safe Environment for Walking

Neighborhood Traffic Calming

With traffic in the Washington, D.C. area among the worst in the nation, drivers may be tempted to circumvent backups on main arteries by speeding through Arlington's residential neighborhoods. The Neighborhood Traffic Calming Program relies on devices like traffic circles, raised crosswalks, speed humps, turning lanes, truck restrictions and "nubs" (curb extensions) to slow traffic and create an environment that's safe for pedestrians and bicyclists, as well as drivers.

Law Enforcement

The Arlington County Police Department enforces traffic laws to protect pedestrians. Many crosswalks around Arlington have been designated for higher fines (up to $500) when motorists fail to yield to a pedestrian. The Police Department focuses additional attention at those locations and at other crosswalks near schools and in commercial centers where there are large numbers of pedestrians.

Snow Removal

When snow falls in Arlington, citizens and businesses rush out to clear the sidewalks for their fellow pedestrians. At least, that is the vision! The County has numerous helpful resources for pedestrians, including a snow removal plan, inclement weather closing updates on the Arlington, Virginia website and the Arlington Virginia Network (AVN) cable television channels, and the Arlington Alert system. Following the winter of 2010, aka Snowpocalypse, the County Board also passed a Snow Removal Ordinance requiring business and property owners to clear sidewalks of snow and ice within a designated time period to ensure safe passage for pedestrians.

Safe Routes to Schools

Several Arlington County government agencies and Arlington Public Schools collaborate on an ongoing Safe Routes to Schools program. The program is designed to encourage more children to walk and bike to school, and to make it safe for them to do so.

Wayfinding Signs

Wayfinding, or directional, signs help cyclists and pedestrians more easily navigate Arlington's 100 miles of multi-use trails, on-street bike lines and designated bike routes, and its commercial districts.

Did You Know?

Higher levels of walkability are directly linked to higher home values.

CEOs for Cities, 2009

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