Be Safe, Be Seen, Be a PAL on Arlington Streets

Be a PAL on Arlington streetsAs more people go on Arlington’s Car-Free Diet, there are more cyclists and walkers sharing the street with drivers. Whether on two feet, two wheels or four wheels, everyone needs to be a PAL to share our streets safely.

Being a PAL means being:

  • Predictable – travel in a predictable way; don’t make sudden, unexpected moves
  • Alert – pay attention to your surroundings and to others around you
  • Lawful – obey the traffic laws, whether in a car, on a bike, or on foot 

Click to enlarge this street scene (PDF, 4.6 MB, Adobe Reader required). It illustrates some useful safety and courtesy tips for walking, cycling, and driving. Spanish version (PDF, 3.2 MB, Adobe Reader required).

Graphic: PAL street scene

When you’re walking, be a PAL and follow these tips:

Cross at crosswalks Graphic: Walking at night Graphic: Walk signal Graphic: Use pedestrian push button Graphic: look before crossing

  • Cross the street at marked crosswalks and intersections.
  • Before crossing, look left, right, then left again.
  • Stand on the sidewalk when waiting to cross the street.
  • Watch for turning vehicles.
  • Use pedestrian push buttons when available.  
  • Begin crossing the street on “WALK.” Do not begin to walk after the upraised hand signal appears. Many Arlington intersections also have countdown traffic signals that show how much time you have left to cross. 
  • When crossing at an unsignalized intersection, make your intentions clear to drivers through eye contact or hand signals showing that you plan to cross. Make sure drivers in all lanes can see you before starting to cross.
  • When sidewalks are not available, walk facing traffic.
  • Cross behind the bus in a crosswalk when possible. Watch out for trucks and buses backing out of parking spaces and driveways.
  • Remember that bike riding is allowed on the sidewalks in Arlington. Although cyclists must yield to pedestrians, try to make room for them to get by. Often there is room for all if everyone acts with consideration.
  •  Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with lights, light-colored clothing and reflective gear. 
  • The pedestrian safety tip icons used on this page are taken from the Street Smart 2011 Safety brochure (PDF, 532.79 KB, Adobe Reader required.)

Of course, walking is one of many transportation options in Arlington. Here are important safety tips for those times when you find yourself getting around by bike or car…

When you’re biking, be a PAL and follow these tips:

  • Understand that cyclists are safest when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles.
  • Use bike lanes, trails and on-street routes when possible. Ride on sidewalks ONLY when necessary. Always yield to pedestrians when riding on sidewalks.
  • Stay visible after dark and in bad weather with lights, light-colored clothing and reflective gear.
  • Wear a helmet. Helmets dramatically reduce the risk of head injuries in a crash.

When you’re driving, be a PAL and follow these tips:

  • Be careful when close to parked vehicles. Parked cars can obscure the presence of people about to enter the roadway.
  • Obey posted speed limits. When in doubt, Arlington’s default speed limit is 25 miles per hour in most neighborhoods.
  • Yield to pedestrians in crosswalks.
  • Watch for cyclists and walkers, especially at intersections, crosswalks and after dark.
  • Be especially attentive around schools and in neighborhoods where you are most likely to encounter cyclists and pedestrians.

Being a PAL and showing a little courtesy will help everyone reach their destination safely. For more information on the PAL program, visit

Did You Know?

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

CEOs for Cities, 2009


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Local News Headlines
Metrorail weekend service adjustments September 26-28

September 22, 2014, WMATA

Arlington leaders apologetic about sidewalks on Wilson Blvd.

September 22, 2014, Inside Nova

Pedestrians: Put the smartphones down and pay attention

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